Accommodation has, naturally enough, assumed a fairly central place in our thinking of late.
We had a run of good fortune combined with decent planing. Singapore was excellent. Beijing was great, and it compensated in style for what it lacked in comfort. Our couple of nights in a Munich hotel worked out well. And Ruhpolding was stunning – a really nice apartment that completely undersold itself in its advertising (they neglected to mention an entire bedroom) and cost very little. And then we come to our latest spot in Munich.
We always knew Munich was an issue. We had real trouble finding anything at all available at this time of year and nothing seemed to sit happily within our budget. We’ve ended up in a flat out in the suburbs. It’s in a nondescript 1970s block, nestled cosily amongst many other 1970s nondescript blocks of flats. While in Ruhpolding we lived in a valley towered over by mountains; here we’re towered over by, well, towers belching steam or smoke. Ultimately the flat is fine, but it’s just not ideal.
Now, what you are asking yourself has that got to do with the TVs in the title? Well that comes down to the psychology of choosing these places. When you go on to the web and start looking for holiday houses in major places, the problem is there are generally too many to choose from. They all generally describe themselves in glowing terms and use very careful photographs.
We do have a budget to work from as a starting point, of course. But Jennifer will almost always use the budget as a number to come in under; while I almost always use it as a rough indication of a starting point to go upwards from. So it’s a dangerous thing to use after the rough cull – too much room for disagreement based on a fundamentally different view of the world.
Using Tripadvisor reviews has proven a great way to separate the sheep from the goats, but for holiday homes there’s not that many places with reviews to work from. We do feel we’ve become quite adept at interpreting Tripadvisor reviews though. The level of expectation that is background to the review given by a bride on her honeymoon, or a mid-Western businessman on his first overseas trip, has to be taken into account in interpreting what people say.
Anyway, that brings us to our rule of thumb: does the place have a flat-screen TV. Not a big one or anything, just a modern, current-looking TV. The advantage of this approach is that even if it’s not mentioned specifically, it is often available to be spotted in the pictures. Of course, the issue isn’t the TV in itself – it’s what it represents about the way the flat is presented and looked after.
We haven’t stayed in enough places this trip to truly validate the FSTV theory. But this place we’re in now has a huge, old-fashioned TV that the agent actually apologised for when showing us round the flat…
[Insert advertisement for major TV manufacturer here.]