Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Where to stay?

My kind of Paris apartment!
As has become our own lovely little tradition, Dr. H and I are currently planning an overseas adventure in celebration of our wedding anniversary. This year we're treating ourselves to a "cycling holiday in the Loire" (oui oui!) followed by two nights in Paris (ooh la la!) Ever the adventurers, we are presently debating whether to stay in a Paris hotel, or to rent a small apartment for an authentic Parisian experience.

Have you ever rented a home or apartment instead of staying in a hotel? Lately tons of trustworthy and user friendly home rental sites have popped up (airbnb and homeaway seem the most popular) and it's easy to see the appeal of living among the locals in your own private residence instead of in a single room, one tourist of many in a hotel. I've personally had some amazing home rental experiences in places like Maine and Vermont, but I did once end up in an errr, "rustic" beach house with axes on the wall for decor. You win some, you lose some!! For those of you up for a different kind of adventure, here are some Merry Meri and Dr. H guidelines for renting vs. checking into a hotel:

* You don't want to feel like a squatter in a complete stranger's home. The property should be be sufficiently de-personalized, tidy and clean. Though some don't mind, I prefer an apartment or house that's set up for renters without too much of the owner's stuff everywhere.
* Renting an apartment can be a great way to experience a city's most expensive neighborhoods at a fraction of the cost of a hotel, BUT look closely at what's included in the per night cost. Linens, towels and cleaning fees may be extra and those costs may eliminate the savings you thought you were getting.
* Take time to read the reviews! Dr. H and I are brave, but not brave enough to be the first guests at a rental property. See what previous guests have to say about their stay and make sure the reviews are fairly recent. Some sites also have property owner "responsiveness" ratings which are very helpful. You don't want to rent from someone who is slow to respond and will make you worried a few days out as to whether your booking is good to go.
* Think about the type of trip you want to have. If it's appealing to wander through neighborhoods or head to a market and prepare your own breakfast (baguette and cheese anyone!?), an apartment might be perfect for you. But, if you're looking to be waited on and pampered (who doesn't love housekeeping's daily visit!?), a hotel may be a better fit.

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