One of my biggest goals in travel is to see how the locals live. I want to stay where they live, eat in their favorite restaurants and generally live the life of a local – I definitely want a slice of the real life, rather than just what the tourists will see. One of the best ways to do this is to stay outside of the “hotel center” of the city. If you research and use some care, you could even save some money!
While I was researching our trip to Rome two years ago, I discovered that all of the hotels that were near to the ancient city center (Near the Colliseum and the area) were ridiculously expensive. It was important to me to be in that area, I didn’t want to waste a lot of precious time commuting from our hotel to the areas we were visiting. So I went onto Craigslist to see if there were other options. I found lots of flats for rent daily, and a lot of them referenced being a member of Trip Advisor. Hmm, I wondered…what was this mysterious Trip Advisor?
If you’ve never been online there, I advise you to check it out. There are thousands of reviews of attractions, hotels, apartment rentals, you name it! I was able to find a very highly reviewed apartment in the middle of the ancient section of Rome for less than $100US a day. I was absolutely ecstatic!
We got a one bedroom flat with a pullout couch, separate entrance, kitchen with full sized fridge and oven, a big bathroom, and a courtyard that was all ours. The hotel room I was looking at was less than 150 sq feet and would have been twice the price with none of the amenities. Plus, we got the experience of waking up with the locals, going down to the produce market and picking up some fruits, cheese, and salumi to keep in the fridge at home so that we didn’t have to hit a restaurant after a long day of sightseeing if we didn’t want to. It made the trip so much nicer, and we consciously called it “going home” instead of “going to the hotel” when we headed back at night. Ah, bliss!
Trip Advisor is also a good resource to find out how to get places, what restaurants are great, and which to avoid, really for anything that you could think to ask about the spot you’re visiting. There are a few other flat rental services that have been making the news, particularly ones like Air B&B, but I stand firmly behind Trip Advisor. Go and really read the reviews. You’ll be aware of the good and the bad, and better able to decide what works for you and your family. There are flat rentals to suit anyone. And while it’s not a really traditional “hotel” experience, I find that I like it this way better. No one to change the sheets or do the dishes, but a lot more room and amenities that you could never find in a European hotel. That fits the bill for me any day!
What do you think, friends? Have you done a flat rental in place of a hotel? How did you like it? I’m considering one for Reykjavik in January 2016, I’ll let you know how that goes as it unfolds. Until next time, friends, Travel Joyful!