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Forget the Hotel!: Short-Term Apartment Renting while Travelling

July 23, 2009

Apartment DesignLast summer when I was headed to Paris on a solo research trip, I dreaded the thought of staying in a hotel for an entire month.  Hotels can be expensive and extremely limiting, with their largely tourist clientele, 24 hour room service, and all-knowing concierge.  I know, I say limiting and you say paradise.  But the truth is these things, while sometimes luxurious and definitely easier than going it alone, don’t offer a true perspective of a place and the people who live there.   Nothing can acquaint you more intimately with a city than living in it, even temporarily, like a local.

To this end, I say forget the hotel and experience the local lifestyle by renting an apartment at your next destination.

Here were my favorite things when I rented for a month in Paris: 1. It was cheaper than staying in a hotel for 28 days, 2. I could cook for myself, 3. I didn’t feel bad spending time there (whereas in a hotel, I may have felt like I was missing something if I didn’t go out), 4. It was quieter (varies I’m sure), 5. Meeting the neighbors, 6. Looking like a local, 7. Creating a home away from home.

Are you converted yet?

So, how to go about renting an apartment that is safe, clean, and reasonably priced?  There are tons of sites out there devoted to matching rentals with short-term renters.  The key is to find a service that is reputable.  I recommend looking at reviews from previous clients or asking for references.  I got lucky in that the service I used, Paris Address, was recommended to me by a then-professor who had used it several times. 

Below are three short-term apartment rental services in Paris that will hopefully give you a good idea of what to look for in a service no matter where you are travelling.

1. Paris Address

My Apartment

My apartment in Paris, St. Germain de Pres, 76 euros/night

My quick review: This was the service I used, and they were superb!  Someone met me at the apartment to let me in shortly after my plane landed.  They showed me around the apartment: garbage, recycling, appliances.  Two weeks into my trip they replenished my already large stack of fluffy towels and changed my bedding.  The place was clean and had all the necessary furniture, kitchen wares, and even some left-over ingredients from previous tenants.  The great thing about the apartments with Paris Address is that they are real Parisiens’ apartments who are away traveling for extended periods and have decided to sublet their place.  For this reason, you will may find books, artwork, and other personalized knick-nacks in the place.  Feels much more like a home  than any hotel!

The site: Paris Address offers almost 300 rentals spread throughout every neighborhood in the city!  The site is easy to navigate in that you can search by arrondissement or by rental number. Also, they provide a short description of each apartment, loads of photographs of inside and out (my favorite thing), and a list of included amenities (i.e. washer, AC, cable, oven, elevator etc).

Also, without submitting a formal request, you can check availability and the cost per night (lowers the longer you stay) of each place.

Also, you can rent by day, as opposed to week or month.  There is no minimum stay period.  Tip: Book well in advance because the good ones go fast!

These are true Parisien apartments available through a service run by Parisiens.

2. Paris Ambiance

Chic style: Le Marais with Paris Ambiance

Chic style: Le Marais with Paris Ambiance

The site: This service has over 30 apartments listed, most all of which are in the more fashionable arrondissements in the center of Paris (1-8).  Apartments can be searched by neighborhood or number of rooms.  Prices are listed as one-week, two-week, and monthly rentals, and apartments range from around 750 euros to almost 4,000 euros a week.  Additionally, some rentals have different high and low season costs.  Paris Ambiance’s site provides a brief description, lovely photographs, availabilty, and prices for each place.  The website also features a concierge, e-guidebook for purchase, and blog.  Paris Ambiance offers fewer rentals and much less diversity than Paris Address; however, they compensate with the classic elegance of their apartments.

Paris Ambiance is headed by three Americans and is based out of Austin, TX.

You can follow Paris Ambiance on Twitter @parisambiance for frequent updates about available rentals.

3. Haven in Paris

Charming apt in Latin Quarter through Haven in Paris

Charming apt in Latin Quarter through Haven in Paris

The site: Haven in Paris is for those looking for something a little more luxurious!  The site allows you to view its nearly 30 available properties by number of rooms, number of sleepers, neighborhood, and price. By week, they range from 500 to almost 7,000 euros.  Ultra chic rentals are available in the 1st-8th arrondissements and in the 17th and 18th.  All of the spaces are beautifully designed and decorated, and this fits well with the entire “experience” Haven in Paris seeks to promote.  The site gives a description of each rental, gorgeous photos of the spaces, lists of amenities included and area attractions, and an availability calendar.  Most notably, unlike the two previous services, they list client reviews of each apartment on their website.  Rentals come with wine and flowers upon arrival, and Haven in Paris works exclusively with a private concierge (charge may apply).  Whether you want to partake in a wine tasting or a in-home massage in your home away from home, they can take care of the details!

Follow them @HaveninParis.

So, the next time you vacation, consider experiencing the city through the eyes of a local by renting your own apartment!  However, don’t forget to ask these ten important questions!

Questions to Ask Before Renting

1. Is there a minimum stay period?

2. Can I book by day or only by week? (Important for those 10 day vacations)

3. Is it fully-furnished?

4. Is it stocked with towels, sheets, and other necessities?

5. Is electricity/gas/trash included?

6. Is any maid/housekeeping service provided?

7. Is Internet included?

8. Is phone service included?

9. Is the apartment air conditioned? (not a necessity, but you should know what you are getting into)

10. Is there a local contact person who can help with any problems?

Do you have a favorite service that can connect travellers with short-term rentals or an experience to share?  Please post in the comments below!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2009 4:37 pm

    This is great information! I’ve stayed in one of Haven in Paris’ apartments several times now, and I can (and do) recommend this service. The apartments are great, they’re in great locations (my personal favorite is the Houdon apartment) and the greeters are wonderful! I’ve shared meals and glasses of wine with a few of them.

    • Ashley Bruckbauer permalink
      July 23, 2009 7:17 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Linda! Especially happy to hear about your positive experience with Haven in Paris and am sure it will help other readers looking for a superb short-term rental service.

  2. July 23, 2009 6:01 pm

    Hi Ashley!

    Thanks so much for the writeup! Where can we reach you by email? Would love to chat a bit. Great blog! You can reach us at info@haveninparis.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  3. July 23, 2009 9:35 pm

    It looks like I have to go to Haven In Paris apartments, look at the feedback’s.

    • Ashley Bruckbauer permalink
      July 24, 2009 9:58 am

      So glad you found the post helpful! Yes, Haven In Paris’ feedback from past clients seems to be their strongest asset. The beautiful apartments aren’t bad either. 😉

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