For many years, I have avoided Hotels and opted to rent Apartments in Europe for vacation. Here’s why. Have you ever felt that you are spending an arm and a leg for a hotel room for your Europe vacation? Crammed into your room like a sardine, you struggle to find a space for your suitcase (or two), your laptops and other electronic devices. Not to mention the one or two (or ten) purchases you make while on vacation? I feel ya! My solution? Rent an apartment! There are many excellent Vacation Rental Sites for Vacation Rental in Europe. I’ll show you how!
Apartments in Europe
My first experience in renting an apartment was in 2009 in Rome. I had never stayed anywhere but in a hotel, and I was a little nervous to try out this new landscape. But after many weeks of research, I discovered that I could actually save a little money, and be in the exact neighborhood I wanted. Bonus, I could have more room and amenities! Win/win! Fast forward to 2019, and I would never go back to a hotel stay in Europe again!
If you are interested in listening to my Podcast on this topic, simply click on the player below!
Vacation Rental Sites
Today, there are hundreds of online Vacation Rental sites to help you find Apartments in Europe. Armed with the following tips, you can search the Internet with confidence! Let’s dive in!
Tip #1: Communication
- There’s so many vacation rental sites offering amazing apartments in Europe for rent. My personal experience is with VRBO, and I have never been disappointed! Similar rental sites include Air B&B and One Fine Stay.
- Communicate closely and clearly with whomever the point of contact is! You could be communicating with an owner or an employee at a management office. Regardless, ask as many questions as you need to before you make your deposit!
Tip #2: Location
- Do your research!!!! Identify a neighborhood that interests you, and then look at a couple of sites that offer rentals in that neighborhood. You will learn a lot about important aspects of that neighborhood, like proximity to subway stops, how noisy is the area at night due to restaurants or clubs, and general safety.
- Comments made by others who have rented the same apartment are GOLD! Take the time to read all of them!!!! If a past renter says the apartment was dirty…I’d take that into consideration. If a past renter says that “bedroom #3” is actually an office with a blow up mattress and no door, that might matter to you!!! Is there wifi? Is there AC, and if so, in which rooms??
- Location, location, location. Probably the most important decision! In my opinion, close proximity to the majority of the sites you want to see is the absolutely most important factor. I’d sacrifice a gorgeous view from atop a hill for close proximity to major museums every day of the week.
Tip #3: The Devil is in the Details
- My husband and I look for two bathroom apartments for this simple reason….nine times out of ten, European bathrooms are much smaller than what we are used to in the U.S. Not a big deal, but cramming two people and all their stuff into one tiny bathroom can be challenging, and maybe even frustrating. Are the bathrooms en suite, meaning attached to your bedroom, or across the hall? Might make a big difference to you! For us, having two bathrooms is worth the extra dollars we will spend.
- Pay attention to the details! For example: Americans are used to air-conditioning. You want to make sure that the bedrooms have AC at a minimum, if not the entire apartment, especially in the summer months.
- What floor is the apartment on? And how will you reach the apartment? An elevator….stairs? A combo of both? Make sure you know this information before you make your choice. Five flights of stairs at the end of a long day of touring might be slightly challenging!!!
- Can king beds be divided into 2 twins? Good question! Wifi? Cable TV? All important details to know before you book!
Tip #4: The advantages of your own kitchen
- Let’s talk about the convenience of having access to your own kitchen!!!! I’m the kind of person who has to have caffeine about ten seconds after I get out of bed. Seriously. So, having an apartment means that I can shuffle into my own personal kitchen, and make myself a cup, without having to get fully dressed and get coffee in the expensive hotel restaurant, or wait for room service to deliver my overpriced coffee.
- Why else is having your own kitchen wonderful? I’m not cooking any meals, I can assure you. But…how about having a little yogurt, fresh pastries and fruit every morning…in your jammies! Maybe contemplate your plan for the day? Check your email? YES!
- Or how about enjoying a glass of wine and some local cheese and bread around cocktail hour, while you rest your weary feet, check your emails for the day, and gear up for a fabulous dinner out somewhere? Again…YES!
Tip #5: Check in Date and Time
- I have learned this lesson the hard way. MOST flights from the US land in Europe in the morning. Once you claim your bags and clear customs, and make your way into the city center to your apartment, it will still probably still be before noon. What do you do if the check-in time is not until 3:00 or later? In a hotel, you can leave your bags with the concierge. But an apartment….you might be standing on the street for a while, which is horrible, and I have done that. Ick. So, here’s a couple of suggestions:
- First, communicate with the rental representative about an early check-in. If that is not possible, ask about a secure place to store your bags until the apartment is ready….unlikely, but it never hurts to ask. During high seasons, there’s usually one guest checking out, and another checking in the same day, and the apartment has to be cleaned and linens washed, etc..
- So what do I do to ensure that I can check into the apartment when I am ready? We rent the apartment for one day earlier. 100% worth the cost, because the moment we arrive, the apartment is ours. Unpack, take a shower….BRUSH YOUR TEETH. Worth every single penny.
Tip #6: Advice from the Locals
- When you arrive, you will be met by either the owner of the apartment, or a representative of the rental company. They give you the keys, let you into the apartment, show you around, answer questions, etc. One important question to ask: where is the closest market/grocery store! Get them to walk you there!!!! This is so important because this is where you will stock up on the aforementioned yogurt and coffee…or where you will buy more paper towels or toilet paper if you need it.
- Lots of times, the apartments have GREAT literature on nearby restaurants that are good, or closest markets or grocery stores. Take the time to ask questions and read whatever information is provided to you!!!!
Tip #7: The Joys of Errands
- About those fresh food markets….sometimes they close after mid-day, so if your first activity of the day is to source fresh berries and olives….how fun is that? It’s the closest you will get to feeling like a real local, so enjoy the “errand.”
- Also, look around your neighborhood for wine shops, cheese shops, and bakeries. There will be many, and all will be open all day long, so again…don’t look at it like an “errand.” Experience shopping and eating like a local…even if it’s just for breakfast food…fresh and made daily by local artisans is bound to be yummy!
- Unless you are from NYC, or some other urban city, you might not be used to this….but look for a grocery dolly…or some kind of rolling cart that will make it easier for you to lug back several bags of groceries more easily. The store might be a few blocks away, and that first grocery store run might be a big one, so try to make it easier on yourself.
As a final helpful hint, I have prepared a Shopping Check-List for Apartments in Europe. This list will help you determine what has been provided for you in the pantry and the bathrooms, usually not a lot, and what you need to stock up on for your stay. You will be jet-lagged, and on relatively unfamiliar soil, so be sure and print out this Check List before you leave and take it with you!!! Click here to get your printable checklist.
Now that you know the secrets for renting Apartments in Europe, would it be weird if I invited myself to come along? I’m super fun, I promise!
Tags: Air B&B | Europe | Overseas Travel | Podcast | Vacation Apartment | Vacation Rental | VRBO
Such great tips Mary! We used One Fine Stay in Paris, France and it was excellent!
xoxo- Tanya 🙂
Thank you!!!! I remember you said One Fine Stay was great! Will for sure check them out!!! Thank you for sharing!
There’s no comparison to staying in an apartment, its such a wonderful way to enjoy Europe!!!
Could not agree more! WE have found some amazing places over the years!!!
We used Ivy Lettings in London and had a great experience. SO much better than a hotel room or two for our family of four!!
LOVE that tip! Thank you for sharing Katherine!!!
Mary – The apartment blog was genius! I love the idea of renting the apt for the day before your arrival – Thinking outside the box! xoxo
Awwww….thank you! I learned that lesson the hard way…standing on a sidewalk with all your luggage waiting on an apartment to be made ready is NEVER a good way to start a vacation! HA!
Fantastic post, Mary! I couldn’t agree with you more. Great tips that are all so important to follow! I just returned from the most fabulous Scotland/England trip, and every apartment and house we stayed in was incredible. I mean stunning! And of course, for a fraction of what we would have paid if we’d had the same space and luxury in a hotel….we needed three bedrooms. I can’t even begin to imagine what we would have spent had we gone the hotel route with three bedrooms! As always, thanks for an entertaining post!
Lisa, I SO enjoyed following your trip on Facebook, and made LOTS of notes about where you were staying, etc. AMAZING trip! And thank you for your kind words!!!!