Everything You Need to Know About Choosing Accommodations For Your Next Adventure
For weeks you’ve been contemplating your next travel destination. Tickets are bought, or at the least, the hunt and hope for cheaper tickets to decided destination began. The question begs: ‘where should I stay?’ No two cities are alike. Each has distinct neighborhoods and places of interest, so how do you determine where you will sleep to make the most of when you’re awake?
It’s a formula of how many days do I have in the destination divided by the places I’m most keen to see based on my research and hearsay to the exponential of my budget and lifestyle preferences while away.
Days ÷ Attractions = Budget^Lifestyle
Okay, so it does not actually require math, but here is look at some of the options based on my own experience to help you find your home away from home, whether on a tight budget, for a short or long stay, or on golden nugget days when you are going all out in city centers and hideaways deep in the country.
Stay in an apartment
Airbnb is swiftly becoming my all time favorite way to walk the walk of a local in a new city. If you plan to stay in the same place for a few days, this is a fabulous way to take in all the sights and scenes you can fill your time with and still enjoy an apéro or even a home-cooked meal in your temporary abode. Not only does this allow for some downtime, it’s also a great money saver. Eat dinner in and grab drinks out; or make breakfast at home and pack a lunch for the day’s adventure. It’s certainly cheaper, and a nice way to have control over what you eat, than eating out every meal of the day.
With Airbnb, you have a few options, whether renting an entire home, a shared room, or a room in a house.
Rent the Entire Home
Renting the entire home allows you to enjoy full privacy, and the comforts of getting to play house somewhere else.
I have done exactly this in big cities and small towns, from Reykjavik, to Galway, Asheville to Kingston, and many a small cabin upstate New York.
In nearly every instance, fortunately, I have been pleased with the cleanliness, likability of my hosts—as meeting them is generally part of the process (i.e., key exchange). And we’ve been delighted by some very homey and charming places to put our feet up!
In New York, there has been a lot of back and forth about the legality of Airbnb (although that has not stopped many of my friends from experimenting as landlords). It creates a great financial opportunity for someone while they’re on the road and all the while allowing someone to share in a more authentic New York experience with visitors from around the globe.
Rent a Room
If you asked me one year ago, I would have told you this option is not for me — I hadn’t actually tried it, I was just unsure of the idea. As my fiancé and I have thus made a year-long voyage including a road trip across America for half of it, we opted for this more budgeted option and gave it my first go in Nashville.
A friend familiar with the city recommended us th 12th South neighborhood and we were lucky to find a beautiful room in a brand new house of newlyweds who were not yet using their upstairs. They were warm hosts and provided a ton of knowledge about the area and the city, making our week there all the more enjoyable. Later on in our trip to Portland, we again found a room in a lovely couple’s house with amazing style and we even shared a meal together. Later, we received an incredibly sweet postcard from our hosts in Portland that they were inspired to take their own work on the road.
Share a Room
The third way to rent on Airbnb is to share a room, however, as a couple, this option doesn’t terribly suit us. I haven’t tried this solo, and while I’m sure there are great experiences to be had, I think I would sooner stay in a hostel where there is a precedent for young strangers gathering and a bit more regulated oversight.
How do you know you’re selecting a good host (or tenant for that matter)? Airbnb relies heavily on feedback from the community of renters and landlords alike, and it’s a good idea to read the reviews closely and look for compliments or complaints. If you’ve never rented someone’s home before it’s still pretty simple: be a good guest, because (a) that’s the right thing to do and (b) good reviews are important on Airbnb. Clean up after yourself and try not to break anything. While staying in an Airbnb in London’s Wapping neighborhood in a pristinely white apartment, we realized on our third morning that chocolates had been placed under the pillows. Needless to say, we didn’t see them and felt terrible for the melted chocolate stain but our host took it with good humor.
By the way, if you are traveling to Turkey…
try The House. Unique to travel in Turkey, The House Café and Apart is part café — offering delectable modern Turkish fare with fabulous ambiance — and part private-residence / hotel. Throughout several neighborhoods in Istanbul and in cities around the country, travelers have the opportunity to stay in sleekly designed apartments with all the perks of a hotel.
On my first trip to Istanbul, I stayed in a House Apart and had a private balcony with rooftop views, enjoying meals and libations on more than one occasion at the hip café/bar associated with it.
Get a hotel room
Sometimes you just need a place to stay. You’re arriving at a place too late to coordinate an Airbnb. You’re only in town for a single night and don’t want to nor have the time to organize your stuff in the morning and appreciate a hotel and it’s conveniences. Also, sometimes we simply want to excitement and amenities that go with staying at a hotel!
Priceline has truly gotten us out of many a pinch and I highly recommend their Express Deals. Essentially, you select a star rating and a neighborhood, and while the hotel is not revealed to you until you have booked the room, you’re guaranteed your chosen level of accommodation, desired area, and you receive a huge discount on the going rate of the same hotel if you were to have booked it deliberately.
Airbnb, Expedia (unmentioned above), and Priceline are my go-to’s when I travel. The reason is that they’re reliable, easy to use, and offer a wide range of price points and options.
That said, I’m open to trying new resources if it means saving time, money or both.
Have you given any of these a try?
- Behomm [Focus on creatives and design lovers, according to site]
- Flip Key
- Home Exchange
- Late Rooms [Popular in the UK]
- Luxury Retreats
- Stayful [Focus on boutique hotels]
- Venuelust [Focus on event spaces]
- We Need A Vacation [Focus on Nantucket, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard]
What are your favorites?