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!