Have you ever envied people who live in Paris, Istanbul, or Rio? Do you travel to immerse yourself in a place – experience it firsthand and not be a tourist?
Are you curious what it would be like to become a “temporary local,” strolling to the neighborhood pub or market?
If the answer to these questions is an emphatic YES!, then why not rent an apartment in your favorite destination for a week, month … or longer?
We discovered this tactic many years ago and it transformed us from “tourists” into “travelers.” Maybe it’s right for you too! So the next time you travel, here are 7 great reasons to rent an apartment instead of booking a hotel.
1. Live Like a Local. If you want to know what it’s like to live in San Francisco, then pick a neighborhood, rent a short-term apartment, and embrace the life. As in all big cities, each neighborhood comes with its own brand of charm – pretty or gritty, spendy or trendy – it’s your choice. Renting will let you be a local – walk the city, hit the street fairs, take public transit, and go to parts of town not seen by most tourists. When you’re craving authenticity and insight, skip the hotel.
2. Cook Your Own Meals. If you’re a wiz in the kitchen (or even if you’re a total klutz), the best way to save serious money is to prepare some of your own meals. Take a local cooking class, then replicate the recipes in your “home away from home.” Shopping in local markets is the epitome of town life. When you have a kitchen, you have a choice – eat in or eat out!
While living in Athens we learned how to whip up Taramosalata and Tzatziki like pros. We mastered a delicious Spanakopita and Greek Salad, so now we can surprise our friends with an authentic Greek meal – all thanks to cooking in our great little kitchen. The money we saved on eating out enabled us to stay in Greece an extra week – that’s how we got to see Santorini.
3. Luxuriate in More Space. One of the first complaints mentioned on many TripAdvisor Hotel Reviews is how tiny a hotel room is. “Not enough room to swing a Manx cat!” as my London co-worker was fond of saying.
Unlike hotel rooms, apartments are usually described in square feet (or meters), and often include a floor plan. You can compare that number to a familiar space to get a good idea of the total size. Bang for the buck, you’ll get more space and comfort in an apartment.
4. Enjoy More Privacy. I don’t know about you, but in a hotel I seem to have an unfailing talent for getting in the shower just as the maid decides to enter the room. It’s always awkward … and those little “Do Not Disturb” signs never seem to work.
When we rent an apartment, we become our own housekeepers – by choice. We keep things tidy, but it’s also nice to know that we can leave things where we want them (just like home). Nobody will rearrange them while we’re out. And when we sit down to dinner there will be no interruptions for “turn down service.”
5. Stay in a Place with Character. After you’ve endured what seems like a million sterile, boxy hotel rooms, you may be ready to stay someplace with character. Lots of character. For instance, we hit the “architectural jackpot” with exposed bricks walls in our great apartment in Vilnius, Lithuania.
This apartment offered an incredible view from its Grecian terrace.
The gleaming hardwood floors and soaring ceilings sold us on our New Orleans pied-à-terre.
Renting an apartment is the perfect solution for banishing the hotel room blahs. For us, renting also means we can score some outdoor space. We look for a charming terrace, gorgeous balcony, or lovely garden for relaxing.
6. Avoid Paying for Services You’re Not Using. When you stay at a hotel, do you use all the services that are available to you – concierge, front desk staff, pool, spa, fitness facility, or disco? If not, then you’re overpaying – because you are paying for them indirectly in your bill at checkout. When you select an apartment to rent, overhead is reduced considerably.
7. Save Money So You Can Travel Longer. The most enticing reason to rent an apartment on your next trip is that it can be cheaper – way cheaper than a hotel! Our Athens apartment cost only 1/3 of what we would have paid for a hotel in a similar neighborhood. Renting an apartment is easy on the budget, and for us that translates into being able to travel longer.
Sometimes, Renting an Apartment is Not for Everyone
• If you’re staying just a few days, then it’s probably not cost effective to rent, and you may not meet their minimum-stay requirements.
• Or if you rely on a concierge to plan your activities, you’ll miss that service. On the other hand, landlords are a marvelous source of local information … and they don’t expect a tip.
• Finally, if you plan to eat all your meals out, then you won’t benefit from the cost savings of preparing some of your own food.
So if these reasons aren’t deal breakers, then what’s stopping you?
Next week we’ll give you “10 Tips for Renting the Ideal Apartment While Traveling.” Whether you like modern or Mediterranean, bare-bones or luxurious, you can find what you want.
No matter how you look at it, renting an apartment when you travel is your passport to being at home on the globe.
This is the first installment in our 3-part series: “Rent a Short-Term Apartment When You Travel.” If you want to see parts 2 and 3, check out“10 Tips for Finding the Ideal Apartment While Traveling” and “25 Tips to Make Your Short-Term Apartment a Reality.”
1. By Cezary via Wikimedia Commons
3,5,7,9. Courtesy Homz Short Term Rentals