|A corner of the kitchen in our Paris apartment.|
David and I are planning a five-week trip to Italy, Spain, and (maybe) Morocco for $85 a day per person based on shared accommodations. This is the second in a series of articles telling you how to travel as cheaply--and comfortably--as we do.
Expedia.com, Trip Advisor.com, Hotels.com and Booking.com list the IQ Hotel among their top five, one of the best hotels in Rome.
And it does sound lovely. The hotel, located close to Termini Train Station near central Rome, boasts a 15-meter double room with a king size bed, wi-fi, satellite TV, a mini-fridge, desk, telephone and in-room safe. There's a large communal terrace available day or night where you can get a snack or simply relax with a drink from the self-service bar. Should it be too chilly to sit on the terrace, the bar in the lobby, which overlooks the square of the Opera House, is staffed at all times. If you have any energy left after a day of sightseeing, there's a gym and sauna available free for your use. Sounds great, doesn't it? What more could you want?
But, as good as it sounds, David and I won't be staying there.
We found a place five times the size for less than half the price!
Instead of paying 227.99 euros per night at the IQ, we have rented a penthouse apartment, with elevator, for 100 euros per night. We will have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, a washing machine, cable/satellite TV, and wi-fi. There's a fireplace when we want romantic ambience, a balcony for evening sunsets, and a little studio with a desk where I can work on blog posts so you can come along with us on the trip. The location is not central Rome, as we're closer to Trastevere, but the tram that will whisk us downtown in minutes is literally right in front of the apartment doors. We think we found one of the best deals in town because our week in Rome, in accommodations that are far more luxurious than the hotel touted by the travel sites, will cost us only 700 E instead of 1,595.93 E. Regardless of IQ, anyone can tell that's a bargain!
You might be wondering if the Rome apartment was a fluke, but I'm delighted to tell you that we have found similar apartments to rent in every place we're staying on this five-week trip. In Florence we'll have a charming one-bedroom apartment with full kitchen, wi-fi, washing machine, and windows overlooking the square, that is just a five-minute walk from the Duomo. It's 500 E per week plus a 40 E cleaning fee. In the heart of Sorrento, we've arranged for a two bedroom apartment with complete kitchen, living room, and a balcony overlooking the rooftops to the sea for 100 E a night. Our cheapest apartment is in Torremolinos, Spain, where it must be off-season. Our apartment there, a one bedroom with two bathrooms, full kitchen, living room, washing machine, satellite TV with British stations, and a glass-window enclosed balcony located in the middle of this vibrant town is just 48.54 E per night!
In all of the places we'll tour, we have found well-located apartments with kitchens, living rooms, one or two bedrooms (It's nice to have an extra room even if it's not used!), wi-fi, satellite or cable TV, and washing machines. Each and every apartment has more amenities than any five-star hotel for about one-half to one-third the price of a hotel room!
We won't have a maid or concierge, of course, but those are services we don't mind doing without. Actually, we usually find that the owner of the apartment does an excellent job identifying the best restaurants in the area, as well as transportation routes and tourist tips by providing a notebook with his recommendations along with lots of brochures.
We'll also have to make our own bed in the morning, but we will feel more than compensated for this little task by having a washing machine. Having once dragged my laundry down the cobblestone streets of Arles, France, where I spent several hours and paid roughly 22 E in a laundromat, I much prefer this trade-off.
Another concern I always hear is worry about what to do in case something goes wrong in the apartment. In a hotel, only a phone call is necessary, say the skeptics, but what happens with an apartment? Actually, we have had minor problems in the past and the solution is the same as it would be in a hotel--call the contact person. The owner has a vested interest in maintaining the apartment along with your goodwill (He assumes you will be posting reviews on the Internet.) if he hopes to earn a significant rental income. Because he knows it's in his best interest to deal with any problem, major or minor, in a timely fashion, you can depend on his cooperation.
So, what are you waiting for? An apartment rental costs far less than a hotel and oftentimes the same as a dorm room (And less than a private room!) in a hostel and boasts far more amenities. In the next post, I'll tell you how to find the perfect place for your next vacation.