Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Staying In An Apartment Vs. A Hotel When Traveling

What kind of accommodations do you prefer when traveling? A swank boutique hotel, a large and grand hotel, a resort or perhaps a Bed & Breakfast or even a home? My main priorities are location, cleanliness and safety balanced by the need to stay within a realistic budget for the area. In Paris this can be a high order to meet, especially given that hotel rooms in this city tend on the minuscule; a challenge when traveling with a family.


When making arrangements for our trip, a hotel with a swimming pool was booked for the first two nights. We didn't know how tired the kids might be after traveling and thought this type of setting would be a nice way to start our stay in Paris. Our choice? The Renaissance Paris Vendome: swank and sweet, but tiny and extremely pricey. (Thank goodness for points.) And, I couldn't have imagined staying there for the entire trip, we would have gotten tired of tromping on one another. Even though we had a suite, it was definitely a suite of Paris standards!


For the rest of the trip we wanted more room, with a kitchen should we get tired of eating out. With a 10 night stay, even the best of things can get old. So we turned to Airbnb.com to find an apartment to rent.

At first I was quite leery to go this route, but after some research I came up with a few guidelines to ensure we made a smart choice. To begin, the search was narrowed to the Latin Quarter, a neighborhood I'm familiar with, set a price cap, entered our dates and looked for the "Airbnb.com Verified Photo" watermark on a listing's photos. If I didn't see them, I moved on. And probably the most important criteria was to find an apartment rented out solely as a vacation home, as opposed to a personal home that is rented out by the person who otherwise resides in the space. (That just didn't feel right to me!) Filtering the options down to two apartments based on the above criteria, I read through all the reviews and decided to contact one to confirm the apartment availability, see how prompt they were in their responses and basically get a sense of who they were. What would they be like dealing with once arriving and staying in their property?


We ended up selecting the apartment owned by a wonderful couple, Pascal and Christine, and these photos from the airbnb listing represent the home perfectly. We got exactly what we thought we were going to get - and more, really.





This route typically is less expensive and allows a small glimpse into what it would be like to actually live in the city, something harder to experience when staying in a hotel.





Not fancy, but charming, clean (very important), comfortable beds, great light, quiet (with the exception of occasional noise from a neighbor upstairs not quite on the same schedule, but then I chalked that up to apartment living), safe (though I did put a chair up to the door at night, as you just gotta wonder, who else has keys to this apartment?), and convenient with a metro stop just a block down the street. 


Pascal was very helpful with any questions we had, even arranging for our cab on the day we left and helping take down our luggage. Christine baked us this delicious cake the day of our arrival, and it was sitting warm on the table when we settled in and later brought over cookies on our last night. Listing here.

So, on a future trip, I'll definitely consider looking for a place to call home temporarily at Airbnb! 

25 comments :

  1. Thank you for sharing ... we have been considering this route and I have been very hesitant to do this on line. We will try Airbnb! What a lovely place you stayed in!

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  2. I Love Airbnb.com! we've used it for Asheville, Paris, Norway... and it's never failed us. It's so worth having your own kitchen. And, like you said, a glimpse of a life there.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  3. We always rent apartments in Paris... yes, it is the only way to go. While we have rented through several groups, I would recommend Adrian Leeds as the very best. Adrian herself is wonderful and makes sure the apartments are immaculate. Her entire staff is great. There is a huge selection! Just for future info.......http://adrianleeds.com/parler-paris-apartments

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  4. Thanks for this information, Janell! We are big fans of VRBO here in the states, but it's nice to have a resource for overseas travel. Maybe someday! :) Your trip looks fabulous, thanks for sharing with us!

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  5. What a beautiful place to stay! Thanks for the great notes on how to find suitable lodging.

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  6. I agree staying in an apartment or home is the way to go if you're going to be somewhere more than a couple of days. Love the Paris trip pics!

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  7. It looks gorgeous! I'm glad it worked out well for you.

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  8. We've rented apartments all over the place, including in Mauritius, and we've always been very happy with what we've gotten. It can definitely be way cheaper (we got a huge villa on the Mediterranean in Turkey for $120/night in the shoulder season!) It has never occured to me to be worried about people letting themselves in, though! We also use homelidays.com and have been happy with that site.

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  9. I think this is a great idea for traveling with a family! We rented an apartment in Paris a couple of summers ago, when our boys were quite young, in St Germain. It was definitely the way to go.

    So happy to know of another source...your apartment looks like the perfect place to rest in between the Louvre and Eiffel Tower!!

    xoxo Elizabeth

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  10. What a beautiful place! Great tips too! We spent half of our trip to southern Spain in hotels and the other half in an apartment. I loved having both experiences but if I could only pick one I'd go for the apartment.

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  11. Thank you Janell. We are actually planning a trip this summer & we were wondering about airbnb. It's helpful to have your input.

    Warmly, Michelle
    Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust

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  12. This is really great info. After reading your posts and listening to a friend talk about his recent European trip with two toddlers, I'm starting to seriously consider a trip this summer. We've had so much going on in the past few years that we haven't been able to go anywhere. I'll have to look into this airbnb.

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  13. I'm doing that next time! so special. Hope youre getting back to normal well. Thanks for sharing such a candid and love journal of your trip.
    xo Nancy
    Powellbrowerhome.com

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  14. Thanks so much for the great info ! Your holiday looks like it was lovely, and I definitely agree a homestay is the way to go. I have used VRBO.com and Homeaway.com (same company I believe) MANY times with great success every time. I had not heard of Airbnb, but you can bet I'm going to check it out right now !! Thanks.....

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  15. All the rooms are beautiful and nice place to live. When i have visited Paris mostly i staying in an apartment because its less expenses and has good living room furniture and other stuff etc

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