November 29, 2009
The living room of the Penthievre apartment
With hotel rates on the rise, more and more travelers are learning that short-term apartment rentals are an ideal way to enjoy a foreign location. For those who seek the true insider travel experience, there is no better way to feel like a local than to rent an apartment where you can cook, entertain, and truly settle into the neighborhood. The benefits of renting an apartment are many, but for those who are not used to vacationing this way, the decision to rent an apartment can be daunting. It doesn’t have to be if you keep a few simple rules in mind.
The elegant dining room and kitchen at Roi Doré.
- Where to begin? A quick Google search will reveal numerous websites where you can browse properties that are being rented directly by owners or by real estate rental agents. The variety of options is enough to make your head spin, but we recommend you start out with haveninparis.com (for obvious reasons) and VRBO.com.
- Prioritize. Once you’ve gotten a feel for the properties that are available to you, make a list of your priorities. Different travelers have different needs, and being clear about your expectations will help you to have the best possible experience. So, what’s most important: Location? Price? Amenities? Extra services? A view?
- Contrast and compare. Once you’ve determined what your travel priorities are and what you’re looking for, take the time to contrast and compare different properties. If a given rental price seems wildly high or low, take note. If it seems too good to be true, it just might be. And if the price of a property seems too high, there may be room for negotiation (especially during low-season).
The Living Room at Rue du Four.
- Clearly communicate your needs. Once you have begun contacting owners and agents, be very clear about your travel expectations and needs. Make sure to note if you have a maximum budget, if your dates are flexible, how many people you are traveling with (and their ages), whether you need an elevator, a parking space, an extra bed, etc. Making sure your needs are known early on will help to ensure that you end up with a rental that best meets your expectations.
- Establish the level of customer service you seek. Some companies, like Haven in Paris, offer a level of customer service comparable to high-end hotels; others do not. Some travelers are happy to arrive, pick up a key, and then be left completely on their own. Others prefer to have a local contact and staff to count on if they have any questions or problems during their stay. Make sure you know what you’re getting before you commit to a rental.
The bedroom at Rameau.
- Ask for reviews or references. Before signing a rental agreement, you are well within your rights to ask for reviews or references from clients who have previously stayed in the property. Talking to them is often the best way to establish whether this property will be right for you.
- Check for legitimacy. Apartment rentals are quickly becoming an accepted and widely used way to travel, but not all rentals are created equal. Before you make any payments, make sure that the person or company you are renting from is legitimate. Beware of scammers if you are searching on sites like Craigslist.
Beyond that, pack your bags and get ready for a memorable vacation! Renting an apartment is a great way to travel and, the more you do it, the more comfortable you will become. Some people establish a relationship with a property and its owner and return again and again, while others like to try out new properties and locales for each trip. Whatever your style, you are in for a wonderful “insider” experience. Bon voyage!
The living room at Michel le Comte.
Written by Tory Hoen
After attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of Gradspot.com's Guide To Life After College.
Website: Tory Hoen