Every considered an apartment as an alternative to the usual hostel or hotel?
Here’s how to find the property of your dreams!
Sourcing the apartment:
the Internet is the only way to go here. Apartments and villas booked through travel agents and tour companies are significantly more expensive than those you can source directly via the Net.
Holiday rental websites basically fall into two categories: those that act as a site for independent owners to aggregate – you book and deal directly with the property owners and the website acts as a giant real estate catalogue, and those that act like a real estate agent – they advertise the properties and manage all the booking and payment arrangements.
Having used both there is not necessarily a lot of difference between the two, although those that manage the bookings and payments directly often have more sophisticated operations, with more payment options (such as credit card) and will have local managers in the town or city. They tend to be location specific (in Paris, I can recommend www.vacationinparis.com
We all want a property overlooking the Eiffel Tower, Waikiki Beach or Central Park. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of those types of properties, and even fewer that are available for short term holiday rentals. Therefore prices are astronomical.
If you’ve got your heart set on one of these iconic views unless you are prepared to really blow the budget or make some serious compromises on the size and standard of accommodation you book. In fact my advice is you may be better off in a hotel – it’s likely to be a better deal on the price/size equation.
Do your research and find an area with the types of services you would like – restaurants, shops, public transport, cinemas etc as well as located conveniently for the places you want to visit. You need to approach the “area search” much as you would looking for somewhere to live at home – this is your home (albeit temporary) after all!
Once you’ve settled on a location, it’s time to seriously start looking, and your approach needs to be become a bit more detail focussed.
Firstly, look at the accommodation on offer – most rentals will say how many they people they sleep – but how many bedrooms is that in? Is the bulk of the accommodation in the lounge room? (I have seen 1 bedroom apartments that apparently sleep 6…….) What level of comfort and privacy do you really need?
How many photos are included on the website? There should be a photo of the living, kitchen and bathroom areas as a minimum to give you a really clear view of the property. Remember the property should have been photographed to look its absolute best – if it looks a bit ordinary in the photos, assume it will be. Similarly, if it looks cluttered in the photos, it definitely will be when you get there!
Next, a scan of the other facilities on offer: is there wifi/phone available (and most importantly, is it free?), does the kitchen have both a cooktop and an oven (if cooking amazing meals is part of your plan). In European cities apartments often only have a 2 burner cooktop in a tiny, tiny kitchen. Are linen and towels included? If not, can they be purchased and what does this add to the total property cost/day? (important for when you are comparing properties to make sure you compare like with like). Does the bathroom have a bath, shower or both, and are there laundry facilities in the property (really important if you’re travelling with children or you are on a long trip!)
Finally, check the location of the property in the building. What floor of the building is it on and is there an elevator (lift)? Assume in Europe and in older buildings anywhere, that unless it is specified in the features of the property you need to use the stairs!
There is lots of fun to be had in a rental property for your next trip, so search out the perfect one for you!