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Should I Consider Staying in a Vacation Rental When Travelling?

The pursuit of finding an ‘authentic’ experience when travelling is often hard to find when surrounded by doormen wanting to help you with your bags and receptionists that greet you by name upon walking in the door.
Hotels or even luxury hostels are nice to stay in – I won’t deny that – but in the pursuit of seeking authenticity hotels and hostels often don’t check that box.

With the rise of vacation rental websites, like FlipKey, I was keen to try but nervous at the same time until I finally took a chance when I realised that hotel accommodation in central Paris was a little out of my reach.
So many questions filled my mind – would I be able to understand the house owners? Would they be nice? Would they rip me off? Would the apartment meet my expectations of ‘clean’ and ‘operational’? Would I find the authentic Parisian experience that I craved, an experience that would help me build my French skills without having receptionists, bellmen and concierge speak to me in English and instead have to do my own planning – often in French – stumbling over my limited vocabulary.

I needed not have worried when the door was answered by a cheery gentleman, his accent thick and insisting on helping carry my bag up the eight flights of stairs.
The apartment was clean, if not a little smaller than I imagined, and while not a hotel room I was so accustomed to it was quaint, quirky and I had my own kitchen.
The apartment owner had taken the time to put together a small document for me to use with emergency numbers, maps to must visit sites and need to know information about the property and surrounding area.
It was a perfect introduction to vacation rentals and a place I’ve recommended a number of times to friends and colleagues visiting Paris.

Since then I’ve used various companies properties in Barcelona, Pamplona, Florence and most recently, Reykjavik.
Why? It’s simple really – vacation rentals offer me a more authentic experience.
It forces me to get out of my hotel room bubble and try new foods or attempt to navigate a local market or store, explore the city from a locals point of view – including using public transportation and walking more than when at a hotel where taxi’s are easy to find – and even try harder to use a new language where I only know one or two words.ย It’s a challenge and sometimes exhausting but it gives yourself a deep sense of pride when you get something write, no matter how small.

Sure, there’s no one you can complain to when the pictures and expectations don’t meet reality and the landlords or property managers can sometimes be scary – as proven in Pamplona – but the companies are on hand to ensure your stay goes smoothly, including helping you find a new property should everything turn sour.

Now it’s over to you:
Have you stayed in a vacation rental?
Where has been your favourite ‘authentic’ stay?
Would you consider staying in a vacation rental?

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My accommodation in Reykjavik was supported byย FlipKey.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Brian
    January 15, 2014 at 2:07 am

    We’ve never used Flipkey but have used services like AirBnB. Back in the day when these sites were relatively new and unknown we found great deals. Now we use them less because we’ve had a harder time finding deals (it seems apartment owners have quickly discovered what the their places are worth.)

    On our last trip to New York City, for example, we found a hotel room for about the same price as a shared space on AirBnB, VRBO, and the like. And for our money, we really do think a significant discount relative to hotel prices is warranted given the uncertainty inherently involved in booking with amateur hoteliers.

    Having said that, we’re big fans of the concept and always use these Vacation Rental listings to compare against hotels and hostels. Occasionally we find a place that offers good value and when that happens, we’ve been very happy with the bookings we’ve made.

  • Reply
    Marie-Eve | EuroTripTips
    January 15, 2014 at 4:17 am

    I, for one, love rentals. While I do love quirky boutique hotels, sometimes rentals provide a better value and a more local experience. I actually plan on renting an apartment for my three days in Reykjavik in June.

  • Reply
    Should I Consider Staying in a Vacation Rental When Travelling? | fast horses
    January 16, 2014 at 4:37 am

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  • Reply
    Lauren @BonVoyageLauren
    January 16, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Never heard of Flipkey but I’m definitely interested. I’ve used websites like Airbnb before and have always had a pleasant experience. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Hogga
    January 21, 2014 at 7:45 am

    that rooms is just begging for stains

  • Reply
    Pedro @ Travel with Pedro
    January 21, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Hi Nicole! I stayed in a few rented apartments in Paris (a lovely studio), Istanbul and Tbilisi and I agree with you. You really feel like a local, having to go to the market, check supermarkets, discovering the local cafe. I think it definitely beats hotels, where many times service and price don’t match.

  • Reply
    Heather Bayer
    January 22, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I’m staying in a vacation rental in the island of Exuma in the Bahamas at the moment and it is wonderful. I’m biased because I also own two cottages in Ontario, Canada that I rent out, and run a rental agency. Renting is the best because its easier to live like a local and get a real flavour of the place. Flipkey is a great site – they are the rental arm of Trip Advisor so get ‘warts and all’ reviews. Also try Homeaway.com or vacationhomerentals,com

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