guide to self catering

James Villas

A Travel Blogger’s Guide To Self-Catering


My family and I are travellers at heart. Our annual holiday is an opportunity to visit new places away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We’ve been lucky enough to see some beautiful parts of the world and experience new cultures and cuisines. I find self-catering a practical way of helping us do just that! It’s not just the freedom the lack of a meal schedule gives us, some of my fondest memories have come from stepping away from hotel resorts, having a wider pick of accommodation in more traditional areas and getting out to explore.

Still, some people might be nervous about self-catering if they haven’t done it before. Perhaps they think holidays aren’t about having to cook! The truth is, self-catering doesn’t mean spending a week slaving over a hot stove; it’s actually a pleasure in itself…

Live like a local

live like a local

Don’t be afraid to embrace the local culture when you’re on holiday! Join in a salsa dance if you’re eating at a traditional Spanish bar, or order a grilled sardine dish in an Algarve restaurant. Immersing yourself in your destination is one of the best ways to enjoy a self-catered holiday.

Visiting markets also gives you a great snapshot of everyday life. There are lots of amazing things to buy; shiny olives, creamy mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and cured meats were crowd pleasers among my family, plus it was so cost effective.

In fact, food shopping in general can be great fun. Bakeries, butchers – lots of European towns still favour the small, local shop. You can pick up amazing cakes, quality cuts of meat and fabulous local wines or beer. Even supermarkets provide a window into the country you’re visiting. Get the whole family involved in picking out food. Kids in particular, are fascinated by anything different and they’ll love paying in the local currency and using the pleasantries of the language.

Self-catering isn’t just about food though, the locals’ dining customs are part of the appeal. Embrace them! If you’re in Spain, take a siesta, sustain yourself with some bites of tapas and step out for your evening meal late. Don’t rush, savour the food and the conversation. A stroll to walk off dessert is all part of the fun.

Serve up some fun

guide to self catering

Whether you want to eat out, have a late breakfast barbecue, take a picnic to the beach or just nibble beyond 10pm, with self-catering you can. Go where the wind takes you and break out of your usual routine.

Why not pick up some fresh fish from the harbour one night and have a barbecue at your villa? Getting the kids to choose their own dinner and mixing up who prepares and cooks the food adds variety, while teaching some handy new skills.

My daughter was so excited to pick out her meal. We had delicious food and a beautiful terrace next to the pool to enjoy. It was the perfect space for a fabulous night in. For me, a night filled with laughter, lovely memories and a yummy dinner is exactly what holidays are about.

The Practicalities

villa holiday kitchen

With a well-equipped kitchen at your villa and lots of dining options, self-catering practicalities can be a breeze. When you go out shopping for the first time, make it part of the fun. Stop at a café for little then head to the shops you find on the way back. There you can stock up on essentials – ice creams, drinks, breakfast bits, nibbles – then just see what takes your fancy on the shelves. Don’t get bogged down with what you’re going to cook and when. Self-catering lets you be spontaneous; enjoy that feeling.

Also, don’t feel you have to cook up a storm to have a wonderful meal. Sometimes the simple things are the most delicious! A lightly seasoned steak on the barbecue with crusty bread and fresh salad is prepped and made with little fuss. When you’re done? Simply stack the dishwasher and relax.

Written by Lifestyle Blogger, Angela Milnes from The Inspiration Edit

Top tips to make the most of your self-catering holiday.

  • For at least one evening, get the whole family engaged with an al fresco barbecue.
  • Spend a morning exploring the local markets, picking up delicious delicacies that would be perfect for a pre-siesta bite!
  • Spend at least one day exploring the unknown. Have a loose idea of where you want to go, pack a picnic and off you go.
  • Finally, make sure you enjoy the holiday fun with the family as much as possible! After all, it only comes around once a year.

If Angela has convinced you that self-catering is actually a fun idea for all of the family, why not take a look at our villa collections and see which one would be ideal for you?

guide to self catering

Marianne Weekes

Marianne Weekes is a Social Media Executive at James Villa Holidays.

Official family holiday planner and expert map reader, I have guided our family up and...

See all articles by Marianne Weekes

See all articles by Marianne Weekes

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