Monday, May 17, 2010
How’s your French coming along? Have you been stuffing more cash into that Europe envelope each week? Here we are at week three, in the frugal way to Hop the Pond. If you’re just joining us, here’s what we’ve got going on.
Week 1 was an overview of “crossing the pond”. Many people have a false notion that travel to Europe is crazy expensive and unattainable – not true!
Week 2 covered booking your flights the cheap-o way.
Week 3 covers fabulous yet frugal lodging in Europe. (that’s today!)
Week 4 will chat about Eating your way through Europe on just a few euros a day…don’t read this one on an empty stomach.
Week 5 will cover Shopping (the best for last!) and a little snippet of traveling with monkeys (aka children).
So, onto this week! Today’s info gets a bit wordy, so I’ve included several pictures of some of the apartments that we have stayed in, to add a bit of splash between the paragraphs!
Okay, so your plane has landed, you have your luggage (prayerfully) and you’re ready to find a place to rest your tired little noggin. Forget those dingy European hotels – stay in an apartment! Our family finally caught on to the blessing of renting apartments all over Europe and I sure wish we had known more about them on our honeymoon….that’s another blog all in itself!
Here’s why you’ll be glad you booked an Apartment:
1) The difference in price compared to a tiny European hotel room is staggering,
2) you have all the amenities of home and,
3) you get the experience of living like a local – that in itself is priceless!
Our family has used these two companies for finding apartments and we have never had a problem, mishap, or the dreaded…scam.
For Paris Apartments only, Centre Paris is our choice.
For Apartments throughout Europe, we choose Homelidays.
Look how cozy this one was. One of our favorites!
Finding the Right Apartment
Location, location, location…First you’ll want to figure out what area of the city will be best for your stay. Paris is the easiest place to book, as the entire city is mapped out by numbered districts.
If your stay includes major metropolitan areas (ie. Paris, Rome, Berlin, etc), make sure that it is near a Metro/Train station – if it is, they will definitely have this in the description.
After you have a good location in mind, play online and look through the apartments for location, size, pricing, etc. Don’t forget to check their availability calendar!
This was the first apartment we booked.
As you can see, it was kid-friendly!
This was the bakery that was directly across the street. I was there, um, several times during our short trip!
Booking Your Apartment
Once you find a few that suit your needs, pick out your most favorite one and contact the owner/property manager (each website has instructions on how to contact the owner or property manager). Typically they are very quick in responding and most of the time, their English is fluent enough to communicate all the details.
Here’s an example of an email we received from booking one of our apartments:
“The place is available.
This large family flat is located in the heart of Paris. The rooms are large, very well decorated and the flat is very bright. The flat is very comfortable, located on the 5th floor with a lift, it is very quiet .
There are many shops and stores for food around the flat and the open air market located rue Montorgueil is just 15 minutes by walk from your flat. There are plenty of food stores, and restaurants immediately around the flat.
This brand new flat is located in the heart of Paris. In less than 15 minutes you can walk to Opéra, 20 minutes to Louvre Museum. It has direct connections with the major tourists attractions such as Opéra Garnier, Champs Elysées and mains streets for shopping (10 minutes). The largest European pedestrian area “Rue Montorgueil” is located less than 15 minutes by walk. This area is full of restaurants, food shops. It can be reach easily by every airports and train stations.
Walking distances from the apartment are: 2 minutes for the nearest metro station and bus.
The area is safe and quiet. There is a supermarket just in your street .
For several days or more, benefit from the large space of the apartment with a living room, 3 bedrooms, a separate kitchen, a bathroom, a toilet.
Make yourself at home, cook for you, your family or friend. For leisure and for business, enjoy this fully equipped, brand new and ready-to-live-in flat. The flat has been renovated in 2004, equipment is brand new. A wooden floor is covering the floor.”
This email from the property management actually went on to tell us about check-in, deposits, etc., so you can see that you typically receive very detailed information prior to booking.
Here is an apartment we booked in Rome.
It had not been updated in quite a while, but you could tell that it had been an amazing home in the art deco era. Very fun!
I can almost assure you that there will most definitely be a deposit required (in Euros, no credit cards), that you leave with the property management upon picking up the keys. Some of these deposits are hefty, but we have always received ours back in full. Details on your deposit will be in the information you receive from the owner/property management. If they don’t mention a deposit, be sure to ask – you don’t want to be caught off-guard on this one!
So, that’s about it. You find an apartment, you book it, then you get to look really cool amongst your peers when you say, “I have the greatest apartment in Paris that I could recommend to you for your upcoming trip”. I promise that it's actually a very easy process and you will be so happy that you stepped out and did something different from the hotel route.
That’s it for now.
(Angela, I know you’re reading this, so if I've left out any details, gimme a shout! ) I’m off to do the more glamorous duties of my life, such as laundry, potty training and cooking. Ciao for now!
This week I'm joining Twee Poppets for their Tuesday Tag-Along. Join us!
And, the Smart & Trendy Mom's for their Wednesday Social Parade.