It happened that I have been traveling a lot during the past three years, often staying for weeks in just one city. At some point I have realized I’m concisely willing to spend some time looking for an apartment to rent, rather then just hoping on Booking.com and choosing a room (unless I’m in the city for 1-2 days or going somewhere far, where’s renting out online hasn’t yet become a thing). Here’s why renting out my personal space seems more appealing to me.
1. Renting is often cheaper
Let’s talk Paris - the notoriously expensive city everyone wants to visit. I’m a bit horrified each time I look at the cheapest hostel price with dorms starting from 25 euro for a bunk with 6 other mates in the rooms. Private rooms start from 60 euro min. Cheapest hotels also start from 55-60 euro if you get lucky and book a few month advance.
To compare, the cheapest room (or even a 12 meter studio) via Airbnb could be rented for 30 euro per night.
Here’s also a cool comparison chart for major US cities.
Again, apartment rentals won in terms of price.
So when is it clearly cheaper to rent an apartment rather than stay in a hotel?
- when you plan to stay for 7+ days. Most apartment rental sites will give you 15-20% lower price if you book for at least a week. Monthly rent is usually 40 to 60% lower compared to the per night rate.
- when you travel solo (and when you don’t want to stay in a dorm). Single rooms are just too overpriced at most hotels around the world!
- when you travel with company 3+ people. Sharing apartment rental costs is always cheaper than booking two separate hotel rooms.
- when you’d like to splurge on luxury, but not 5 star hotel type of luxury. Premium rentals (or close to those) are still much cheaper than a room in Hilton. For instance, you can rent a modern penthouse in central Cambridge via Signet Apartments starting from £195 per night or pay £349 for a double room in DoubleTree by Hilton. The apartment fits four people in case you are wondering.
2. You have more personal space
Most hotel rooms (I can afford) make me feel trapped. They are tiny, cramped and full of things I don’t need - a TV, but lacking important things - a normal work desk. I don’t feel comfortable spending much time there and prefer to work in a nearby cafe when I need to. Most hotel rooms are mainly designed to sleep and have a shower.
Your own (temporary place) gives you a bit of a homelike impression. You can have your coffee without getting dressed, choose a working spot, have a normal meal at a normal-sized table and talking of food...
3. You can have meals at home
I don’t even mean cooking in the first place, but, you know, grabbing some veggies, cheese and wine at the local market and enjoying it in a private atmosphere of your home.
Eating your own food in a hotel room and actually enjoying it get’s hard at times as:
- you may not have a balcony with a view (or any balcony at all) to chill there
- you don’t have a normal table and/or comfy chairs
- you have a mini fridge where it’s impossible to fit anything or you just don’t have one at all
- you don’t have plates and glasses to make the meal look fancy
Cooking: occasionally I do cook while traveling, especially if I’m in a rather expensive place. I know that I could buy foods for 10 euro in France (+ a bottle of wine) and cook a fantastic meal, instead of splurging for a 35+ euro dinner.
4. The social factor
A lot of homeowners sub-rent a room, not the entire flat and high chances are your host would be a really amiable fellow, who’d be happy to tell you about the best hole-in-the-wall bars in town, good places to eat and some off the beaten track attractions to check-out. They’ll be happy to consult you on prices, transportation and basically any other thing that comes to you mind.
While renting rooms (apartments) I was invited for a family dinner in Nicosia, a play in the theater in Skopje (had to politely refuse as I don’t understand the language well, but invited my hostess for drinks instead), day trips and so on.
A had a chance to peek in the local way of life and community, plus meet some really nice people who are friendly and polite because you are their guest, not just for the money (a feeling haunting me in hotels).
5. The extra perks
- You can do your laundry without paying extra (essential when you are traveling with a carry-on for weeks).
- You can live in some mind-boggling places in terms of design, location or atmosphere. I once rented an apartment in Marseille and my neighbor was John R.R. Tolkien grandson! The other time I was living in a flat inside 18th century mansion (formerly owned by one family). The place had 3 real fireplaces, huge ceilings and a hidden inner yard. Paid peanuts for that stay.
- You can choose to live in a cool neighborhood. Hotels/hostels are typically concentrated in a few super touristy areas that lack authenticity, are often overpriced, crowded and loud day and night. When renting there are more chances to score a place in a residential area where the locals live, shop and eat.
Where to look for apartments rentals?
- Airbnb - the biggest, baddest site out there with accommodation of all size, shape and budget.
- Flipkey by TripAdvisor - more suitable for long-term rentals at popular vacation spots.
- Wimdu - Airbnb biggest competitor in Europe.
- Roomorama - perfect for short-term rentals
- Homeaway - home vacation rentals around the world for short to medium term renting.
- Only Apartments - the name says for itself. Good for short-term rentals.
- Way to Stay - more of a high-end apartment rentals, mainly in Europe.
- City specific short term apartment rental agencies. Google will bring you hundreds of results. Make sure you check the reviews and talk to the agency before giving out your money.