How To Pick a Great Vacation Apartment Rental

If I’ve done my job right, you guys already know that a vacation apartment rental is a great travel option.

In fact, I’ve kind of turned into an evangelist on the subject. You’ve most likely already heard me go on about how apartment rentals save you money, let you pretend to live like a local, and offer more comfort than a hostel and more utility than a hotel.

Mike and I have rented apartments using a variety of different websites, everywhere from Rome to Buenos Aires, Berlin to New York City. We’ve also worked with Flipkey on several Bloghouse projects involving absolutely enormous house rentals in Toronto and Chicago. Recently we used Flipkey again to stay in Wicker Park in Chicago for a full week. We are even staying in a vacation apartment rental for two weeks while we look for a permanent place in Seattle. I think it’s fair to say we really like vacation apartment rentals.

Overall I have had fantastic experiences renting apartments around the world, and I’ve learned a few things too (I say me, and not we, because you KNOW I am the one combing the listings and picking the perfect pad for us). Not all apartments are created equal, and you need to be selective to pick an apartment that’s going to enhance, not ruin, your travel experience.

So here are my top tips for picking a great vacation apartment rental:

Location is Everything

How to Pick a Great Vacation Apartment Rental - Location is Everything
Wicker Park Neighborhood

When looking for a vacation apartment rental, location is the first, and biggest factor I consider. When I travel I want to be as close to the action as possible. I want to be in a good neighborhood, with lots of restaurants, markets and access to public transportation. Convenience is important to me, probably more important than a big bed or fancy fireplaces or any other extra flourishes.

Don’t just rely on the owner’s description of the location, most rental websites have a map feature that will tell you exactly where the apartment is in relation to everything else. When in doubt, googlemap it yourself. While you’re at it, check out the street-view for an idea of the neighborhood.

Important Amenities

Important Amenities in a Vacation Apartment Rental
Berlin Apartment Rental

Second on the list, but equally important, are the qualities of the apartment itself. This may vary a bit depending on your needs, but I typically look for a functional kitchen, a comfy looking area to work, and of course, the non-negotiable: wifi. Laundry facilities are also a huge money-saving plus.

I also use the pictures to scope out the vacation apartment rental itself: does it look clean? Comfortable? I find checking out pictures of the kitchen will give you a solid idea how clean and modern the place is, or isn’t.


Check the Reviews of Your Vacation Apartment Rental
Cozy in Santiago

Not every apartment has reviews available, but if they do, read them carefully. I particularly look for the experiences visitors have had dealing with the owners. Usually, owner’s can be really helpful (I’ve had landlords offer us private tours and more), but sometimes they can be a pain in the neck. It’s always good to have an attentive landlord on hand who can help you with tricky wifi or a busted heater.

Read the Fine Print

Booking a vacation apartment rental? Read the fine print

Once you find a vacation apartment rental that looks promising, make sure you are well-versed in the fine print. Every apartment owner gets to set their own rules, so don’t assume anything. Is there an extra person fee? A cleaning fee or a security deposit?

It sounds like a lot of work, but a few minutes vetting your vacation apartment rental beforehand is so worth it once you arrive. Then it’s all about relaxing in your new “home.”

This post was written by me, brought to you by Flipkey.



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How to Pick the Perfect Vacation Apartment Rental

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15 thoughts on “How To Pick a Great Vacation Apartment Rental”

  1. We’re doing the same for six months this winter in the UK and Europe, Steph. Booking an apartment for the week rather than stay in a hotel allows us to travel within budget, prepare our own meals, relax ‘at home’ after a day’s sightseeing, and yes, like you, we pretend we’re locals!

  2. I agree with you that location is the biggest factor for the stay. I think you should choose the accommodation which can have nearby markets, railway station, airport, to be in a good neighborhood, with lots of restaurants and access to public transportation.

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