Mon, August 1st, 2011 - By

Is self catering a cheap option?

In these days of tightening our financial belts, a self catering holiday may look like a cheap option. However, I do wonder if it is actually cheaper to go self catering, if you look at the total cost of buying groceries and having some meals out? Never mind the fact that you may have to do quite a bit of shopping, cooking and washing up?

Salad buffet at Soreda Hotel in Qawra, Malta

I think if you find a good deal on a half board holiday it could be cheaper than self catering. Our most recent holiday was to Malta in May 2011. I found a half board deal with at the Soreda Hotel in Qawra which cost £18 per person per night on half board, i.e. a total of £252 for two guests for a 7 night stay.  A self catering studio at the Soreda cost around £35 less and I’m positive that we couldn’t have bought food for breakfast and dinner for £35 for the seven days.

Soreda Hotel Maltese Night menu

We did do some food shopping in Malta and paid around 7 Euro to buy a litre of milk, some bread, cheese and a few tomatoes and mandarins. Now that was at local corner shops in Qawra, I assume it would be cheaper at a big supermarket. Eating out in Malta seems a better deal than buying and cooking your own food. I had a very tasty huge burger served with chips and salad for 4 Euro, in a very characterful restaurant in Valletta.

Interior of La Valette Bar & Restaurant in Malta's capital Valletta

The cheapest meals we saw were in the village of Marsaxlokk on the south coast of the island, where three course set menus including a glass of wine cost 6.5 Euro. If you didn’t want such a big lunch, you could have mixed grilled fish with chips, salad and a drink for 3.5 Euro.

Cafe de Paris in Marsaxlokk, Malta

The last self catering holiday I had was in September 2010 in an apartment in Malaga, Spain. There were several small supermarkets within walking distance of the apartment, but I found food there to be slightly more expensive than in the UK. I also did some shopping at the market.

Malaga market

Again I found it better value to eat out on the set menu where you could have a good three course meal for around 7 Euro (excluding drink).

Cafe alley in Malaga, Spain

What’s your experience, have you found it better value to go half board or self catering?

Photo credits: John Haslam, europealacarte

Karen Bryan

Karen Bryan is the founding editor of the UK based, multi author Europe a la Carte Blog which features Europe travel tips about the best places to visit in Europe.

Posted : Monday, August 1st, 2011 at 11:00
Category : Holiday Tips
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