Travel trend for 2011: Choose to rent a house or apartment over a hotel stay

Fifty Euros a night for a bijou apartment in the Montmartre district of Paris? No way! Travellers often assume that renting a private house or apartment requires a long commitment and lots of cash.  But you can rent a flat in London, a centrally-located apartment in Florence, a converted stable in an English village or a former pool house in Cyprus, even if you’re short on time and money.

It is the most pronounced trend in travel and many companies are flourishing because of the skyrocketing opportunity of such alternative accommodations . I have only rented when I travel enjoying a fabulous Florence apartment in the square directly across from Mercato Centrale , a bijou flat in the Montmarte area of Paris for a brief but memorable 3 nights at a fraction of the cost of a hotel and so much more enjoyable.  I have reaped the rewards of someone else’s clever renos and refurbishments in a tiny converted pool house in Cyprus, a renovated stable in Norfolk, England, a unique former police station in England, a 200 year old cottage in a small village in Cornwall, and a five floor walk up in London , England.

Why choose a rental over a hotel or guest house? Live and feel like a local, even for three nights; shop at markets and cook your own meals. You’ll meet friendly neighbours who are the best resource for places to go and sights to see, and overall  improve the quality of the holiday immeasurably.  As you are renting from owners, it is surprising what they will include. When we rented a 200 year old cottage in a small village in Cornwall, they let us use their sports car for the month for no extra charge.  As an added bonus, we took care of their massive vegetable gardens, sprinkled throughout the village and a greenhouse, so we were inundated with fresh veggies at every meal.

Accommodations can include apartments, cottages, trailers, shared houses, B&Bs and house-sitting arrangements.

Websites have filters allowing you to search by price. Print and online newspapers often list properties for rent, most of them privately owned. Usually, the cost depends on the time of the year—the weather is beautiful in Florence in October, but the tourists are gone and prices are down. A property might be listed for only one time period, but if you are interested in going earlier or later, contact the owners and ask anyway. Lower prices require some flexibility: for example, at that pool house in Cyprus, you’ll hear someone cleaning right outside your windows very early, every morning. Find out if linens and towels are included. You may need to bring shampoo and soap, as well as large bags for market shopping.

Start your search here:

sabbaticalhomes.com

Private homes in many countries available for rent, exchange or house-sitting.

holiday-rentals.co.uk & vacationrentals.com

For holiday rentals, prices vary, but there are a few deals. Read the details closely. If a car is required, this means the property is secluded.

laclisse.com

Privately-owned cottages on the southwest coast of France.

florenceapartmentscentral.com

San Lorenzo Apartments offers family-owned apartments in the Old Town Centre of

Florence, accommodating two to six people.

caretaker.org

House-sitting and caretaking opportunities around the world, mostly rent-free.

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About The blog of travel & lifestyle journalist Melody Wren

Melody is a freelance writer because she believes that work and fun should not be mutually exclusive. She writes about travel, food, lifestyle and green living. Melody loves staying in a place long enough to get acquainted. Local customs, markets and traditional cultures are magnets for this writer. When not writing she’s either on the road, in the air, or savoring something tasty. Most of her travels feature outdoor adventures of some sort, although she typically avoids sleeping on the ground. She is an ordinary person that enjoys challenging and pushing herself, facing fears with an eye on experiential travel. She needs to do it, feel it and see it so she can write about it. Her hope is that her stories encourage readers to get out there and do the same.
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