Short-term apartment rentals

Has anyone done short term (2-3 nights) apartment rentals around Europe? I was poking around www.homeaway.com today (guess their Super Bowl ads worked!). Using Slazburg as an example, I found a decent apartment right along the river on the old side of town for almost 20 euros/night cheaper than the cheapest available hotel for our stay. Even factoring in the cost of breakfast, it's still cheaper.

Anyone used one of these? Any pros/cons with going this route vs a hotel recommended in Steves' books? It's two of us and only 2-3 nights in each location, which is why we originally ruled out apartment renting.

Posted by Ron
Carbondale, IL, USA
1201 posts

We always enjoy staying at apartments while in Italy. It usually gives us more room to roam around in.

You may or may not find them to be cheaper than the inexpensive hotels for just one hotel room. We usually need two rooms when my dad travels with us and can find some savings with apartments.

We have generally used agencies not VRBO.com.

things to look out for that you won't have seen if used to hotels.

There is almost always a final cleaning fee, most sites give you the cost upfront.

there may also be fees for utilities like heating or AC or phone on top of the rental fee. Although these days most places wrap those into the rental fee.

You'll also need a security deposit to cover damages at most rentals.

there are a few spots that only rent weekly and then only a Saturday to Saturday stay. A lot of places will now go with a two or three night minimum.

Make sure you know where the rental is located. Use google maps to verify.

www.slowtrav.com has a number of apartment reviews for researching rentals

IF you find what you think is a perfect spot and it only has one week minimums, you might want e-mail them your dates anyway. Sometimes they will be looking to fill in shorter gaps between their longer rentals and you'll luck out.

Most rentals will require a deposit up front. Sometimes it can be significant, like half the fee. Some places want the whole thing beforehand. Make sure you are aware of the cancelation policy. Some won't refund at all if you cancel and they can't re-rent your slot.

Having said all that, we like rentals a lot more than hotel stays.

Posted by Heidi
Walpole, NH
19 posts

We rented apartments in London, Paris through vrbo.com. Both were excellent. We also rented a houseboat in Amsterdam through houseboathotel.nl. Loved it.

We loved being "locals" and cooking/shopping in the area we stayed in. Would definitely recommend it.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4766 posts

I rented an apt. in Berlin for only 2 nights and it was far cheaper than a hotel room. Very clean, had our own key and entrance, and we didn't have to pay a deposit or a clean-up fee.

Many of the websites that offer apts. will have different rules, so just read them carefully. There are plenty of choices.

Posted by Maureen
Atlanta
1357 posts

From what I've found, different countries operate in different ways. In the German speaking countries, I've found it easy to rent apartments by the day instead of doing it by the week. In other countries, most that I've found want you to rent by the week, Saturday-Saturday.

VRBO has been hit or miss for me. I've found great deals in some places, others have been really expensive. I've found better deals by going through the city or region's tourism websites or doing a Google search for "holiday apartments (name of town)".

Posted by Chris
Puyallup, WA, USA
881 posts

We've used em, and loved em. We even found one on Craiglist that was one of the highlights of our stays.

The sites recommended are great - just use common sense and trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel 'right', move on.

The only cons to me were no wake up calls and cleaning up after yourself - but the pros (full kitchen, privacy, etc, etc) Totally outweighed them.

Posted by Darrell
Victoria, BC, Canada
42 posts

Hi, the other Darrell here :)

I've only rented an apartment in Paris but had fantastic experience with an agency called VacationinParis(.com). They were really great, excellent communication, nice properties and decent price (in US $ too!). I think for shorter stays you have to pay a bit extra (an extra cleaning fee) but they have some very affordable places in fantastic locations (Last year, I spent a week in a small but really nice studio right around the corner from Place St. Michel in the Latin Quarter. It cost me $140 US per night (in peak season!) and had a washer/dryer unit (which is a must imo if you're packing light and yet don't want to dress like you're going on an African Safari--I really hate those quick-dry thin nylon travel clothes, unless I'm going on a dig or something).

Posted by Kira
Calgary, Canada
78 posts

I have had some good success finding short term apartments but usually they are only in the bigger cities if they are for less than a week in high season. I love Home Away and have used them a lot but they tend to only have full week (Sat - Sat) rentals in the summertime. Last summer we stayed in Amsterdam in a fabulous apt for 5 nights and also in Paris for 3 nights. We are going to Spain this summer and I easily found apartments in both Barcelona and Madrid for 3 night stays. I do find though that it's almost impossible to find one for less than 3 nights - guess it's too much hassle for them which is kind of understandable.

Try typing 'short term vacation rental ____" with the city you want and see what you get. If you want specifics about any of the cities I mentioned let me know, I'd be happy to share!

Apartments are so much more enjoyable than hotels in my opinion and make you feel a little like a local instead of a tourist.

Posted by Jeff
Seattle
44 posts

We rented apartments in Bruges, Paris, Rome and Venice during our 5 week trip last summer. We were travelling as a family of four and found the apartments much more affordable and easy to book for our larger group. Like the other posters, we enjoyed the other perks including more room to move; a kitchen for cooking in occasionaly; and a washing machine. We stayed 3 to 6 days in each location.

However a big downside of the apartment rentals was the added hassle of coordinating check in and check out logistics with the apartment owners/managers. It was our first trip to Europe, and it definately added significant stress arriving in each city by train or plane and needing to find our apartment within the window of time we agreed to meet the owner/manager for apartment access.

We will travelling through France and Spain this summer for four weeks, but only one of our children will be with us. This time around we will be booking more hotels than apartments to avoid the coordination hassles; since a triple reservation at a hotel is far easier than quad bookings.

I'll be better prepared to compare the two strategies after our coming summer trip.

Posted by Elena
Larmor, France
12 posts

I have used flipkey.com (it's a trusted, TripAdvisor-owned source)

Posted by mary
san francisco
41 posts

We will be renting 2 apartments on our upcoming trip: one in Paris through VacationInParis.com, and one in Rome, idealrome.com. VacationInParis has been great to deal with, and has good reviews from what I can find. Also a very decent price compared to hotels. IdealRome is through the owner (Guido). It looks gorgeous, and again has wonderful reviews from what I can find. And Guido has been just great. Every single question I have emailed him has been answered quickly and thoroughly. He has even made numerous suggestions to us for our anniversary diinner, and reserved a private car to pick up from the airport. He is great.

I will post a review of them in a few months when we return :)

Posted by Sarah
Cupertino, CA, USA
12 posts

Hi, Vacationinparis.com also gets my vote. We rented through them and it was extremely professional and very good customer service. We also have rented through Spain Select, and that was a safe option too, although I would say that the maintenance of the apartment we stayed in left a bit to be desired. Still, all in all it was very worth our while and MUCH cheaper (and we had a washing machine + plenty of room) than hotels in Paris or Madrid.
Have fun!