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This web site (there is very possibly more like it) is my new way of hunting for holiday accommodation. It is international accommodation to suit almost any budget (apart from dorm room budgets) but at the moment Europe seems to be where most of the accommodation is advertised.
The basic idea Private house owners that want to rent their properties to tourists set up an account and can advertise as many properties as they like. So how does this benefit the tourist? Well my girlfriend and I have just got back from over a month traveling through Spain. We did a lot of research on accommodation for rooms with a double bed and a private bathroom (we're a little old to be sleeping in dorm beds now). What surprised us about this form of accommodation is that it can actually work out cheaper than a room in a hostel and you get all the comforts of home. I'm talking about a washing machine, microwave and oven, dish washer and TV and DVD. If you have a family or traveling as a group then there is no doubt in my mind that this is the way to go. The money you save by self catering alone is huge never mind things like having a fridge and washing machine.
The actual website It's easy to use, free and has several features I appreciated and you only need to register once you've found something you're interested in and want to contact the owner. To start with when you begin your search of a country it tells you how many places are available in that country so you know straight from the outset whether you are wasting your time or not. Secondly once you have a list of accommodation in the area you are looking for each accommodation advert has photos, an availability chart, reviews from previous tenants and a link to a map so you can see where in town the apartment/house is located. This is really important if you have limited transport and intend to do a bit of sightseeing. Thirdly once you choose to try and book an apartment the owners contact details are displayed along with any other notes the owner might want potential visitors to know. As well as this it tells you what languages the owner speaks which as handy if (like me) all you've got is English.
The down sides Because they are private apartments and therefore private adverts, not all of the information may be up to date (such as the availability chart). Some of the photos are poor quality and therefore don't really give you a decent of idea of what your looking at. Booking the accommodation is between you and the property owner. The sight only provides you with the owners contact details and from there on in it's between you and the owner. I would have preferred not to have to rely entirely on the owner to get back to your emails and returns your calls.
Conclusion Going on the 3 apartments we rented out of the 12 or so places of accommodation we stayed in, this is really worth a look. Our experience showed us that the owners were polite, honest and actually really eager to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. Because this is private rentals you can negotiate price or airport/train station transfers and as long as it is not high season the owners are more than willing to consider offers. The longer you plan on staying in a place the more leverage you have for negotiating.
As a holiday home owner I found this review very informative. It's great to see such things from the guests' viewpoint. And the reviewer has covered most if not all of the info prospective users of the site might need.
Btw, as a holiday home owner I like the fact that I can communicate directly with an enquirer rather than depend on a third party and I make every effort to reply as soon as I can. I WANT the business so surely it is in my best interests to respond quickly? And a quick response must be reassuring to potential guests too.
Coloneljohn 06.11.2006 11:44
Nice one. I could have made great use of this when I was younger. Good infromation. John