Apartment rental sites allow locals to rent out an individual room, shared space (such as a couch in a living room), or entire home/apartment. The host lists their place online, posts photos, writes a description, hit publish, and, presto, they can start to make extra money with the unused space.
The booking process is like booking any other type of accommodation online. You search the database, find a place you like, create an account, and request a booking. When the owner accepts, you are sent a confirmation.
Additionally, many websites allow owners to list their place with an instant booking option, which means you don’t even have to wait for the owner to reply. You’re instantly booked in your accommodation (similar to when you book a hotel).
You’ll also be able to read reviews about the host and the apartment and see exactly what amenities are included. For example, you can see if there is a kitchen (so you can cook your own meals to save money) or if there are restrictions on noise, smoking, and pets. Maybe you need access to a washer and dryer or fast Wi-Fi. You can find all of that out in the host’s profile (or in the reviews).
Most accommodation rental sites also include a map so you can see where you’ll be located. That way, you can pick an apartment close to the attractions you want to visit, or, choose one further afield so you can have a quieter stay and get a feel for local life beyond the tourist crowds.
Apartment rentals represent the space between hostels and hotels. If you are traveling on business and want the comforts of home, you probably aren’t going to stay in a hostel. But hotels may be too expensive or too impersonal for you. A rented apartment is a perfect compromise.
Or maybe, like me, you love the hostel scene but occasionally need more space and privacy. An apartment rental will be a lot quieter and more relaxing than a hostel since you won’t need to be around as many people (or as much noise). You’ll also be able to cook your own food, helping keep costs down on your trip.
Traveling with friends or a big group? This is definitely the option for you. Squeezing a bunch of people into a rental home/apartment will be much cheaper per person than a room in a hostel or hotel. Plus, you get space to spread out and relax. Dorm rooms and cramped hotels don’t give you a lot of “me” time.
Additionally, if you choose a “shared accommodation” option (which usually means sleeping in someone’s living room or other semi-private space), you can often find prices for even less than a hostel. While you won’t have much privacy, this is a good budget-friendly choice for travelers who just need a cheap place to crash.
You’ll also get to interact with your host, who can provide lots of insider tips and insight to your destination.
Unfortunately, as accommodation rentals have exploded into the mainstream, it’s become harder and harder to find great hosts. A lot of hosts now own multiple properties and live elsewhere. That means you often deal with property managers and never get to interact with the actual owner.
Additionally, a lot of apartments aren’t quite as nice in reality as they appear in the photos
Here is what to keep in mind when looking for a host:
Do they have positive reviews? – If other people stayed there, had a good time, and found the apartment as advertised, you probably will too.
Do they have multiple listings?
Do they have accurate photos?
Do they have verified photographs?
Are they an active user or Superhost?
Is their calendar updated?
Do they reply often?
Are they verified?
Have they been someone else’s guest before?
These nine rules are helpful guidelines, but at the end of the day, you have to go with your gut.
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