A short city break is the perfect way to soak up the cosmopolitan glamour and culture of a new destination without using up precious annual leave. And with a self-catering stay, you can get to the heart of city life in a way that would never be possible with a hotel stay, visiting local shops and markets for groceries, or trying out the owner’s favourite restaurants.

But can you live like a local in a way that doesn’t break the bank? Quite simply, yes! Here’s a selection of our cheap and chic city apartments – see the full list here.

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Antwerp Boutique Apartments & Suites, Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp is a super-cool city with fantastic shopping and an array of cultural delights. Right in the middle, these apartments & suites are a perfect base for exploring. They overlook the famous Vrijdagmarkt flea market, and the Fashion District is a quick walk away. Once a classic Belgian townhouse, the apartments have been lovingly converted in a cool, retro style with fun details – a record player here, a kitsch print there – which creates a home-from-home that feels full of life. The apartments sleeps 2-4, and have a full kitchen for self-catering. The suites sleep 2 and don’t have a kitchen.

i-escape blog / Budget city-break apartments / Antwerp Boutique Apartments & Suites

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Baixa HouseLisbon, Portugal

This stunning 18th-century apartment building is right in the centre of Lisbon; Baixa means ‘downtown’. Its grand staircase is lined with traditional Portuguese tiles and the apartments are cool, white havens. Original features have been meticulously restored and high-ceilinged rooms are flooded with light and beautifully, quirkily decorated, with vintage wares. Best of all, when you stay here, you get a wonderfully personalised service. Breakfast, a homemade cake and daily cleaning are included in the price, and fresh bread is delivered to your door every morning. Each sleeps 1-7, and has a full kitchen.

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Amoret Apartments, DubrovnikCroatia

Dubrovnik is one of the world’s most magnificent fortified cities. The UNESCO-listed Old Town sits snugly within medieval walls and presides over the deep blue waters of the Adriatic. These super-central apartments occupy an elegant 16th-century stone building near the Jesuit monastery. An ‘old family house’ atmosphere prevails thanks to the homely traditional décor of carved wooden beds, herringbone parquet floors and paintings inspired by the city. Reception staff are really welcoming and a shared terrace is a lovely spot to enjoy a lunch you’ve whipped up in your kitchen, or a sundowner drink. Most of the apartments sleep 2; a couple have an extra small single room for families.

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Boutique Apartments Barcelona, BarcelonaSpain

Barcelona is one of the world’s most fun cities – and what better way to explore than from the comfort and space of your own apartment? With Boutique Apartments Barcelona you get a choice of location; either the ancient alleyways of El Born (full of cool bars, restaurants and boutiques) or in the more residential Sants district (close to the railway station, minutes from the Picasso Museum, and perfect for families). Wherever you stay, you’ll be in a converted 18th- or 19th-century building. Granite bathrooms, stone walls, slate or wood floors, funky lighting and, in most, little balconies, give the feeling of open-plan contemporary living. Each sleeps 2-5 and has a full kitchen.

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Palacina Berlin, Berlin, Germany

The Schöneberg district of southwest Berlin has had its fair share of famous residents (Albert Einstein and David Bowie to name a couple). Nowadays it’s home to well-heeled young families and is centre of Berlin’s gay scene. It’s also just a couple of U-Bahn stops from the shopping boulevard Kurfürstendamm, and an easy link from the airport. The elegant Palacina apartments offer a home from home as well as the feel of a luxury hotel. Marble-clad bathrooms, heavy silver chandeliers and plush soft furnishings ooze opulence, while the small communal roof terrace is perfect for aperitifs before visiting local restaurants. Ideal for short or long stays, each sleeps 2-5 and has a well-equipped kitchen, a washing machine/dryer, and plenty of storage space.

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View all of our boutique hotels and hip hideaways

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