1. Please tell us about your apartment, the location, when and how long you rented it for?
We rented a one-bedroom apartment in a palazzo near the Campo San Polo in
Venice, Italy for 10 weeks during the winter of 2011. (We'd stayed in another
apartment for three months the previous winter, but it wasn't available during
our 2011 visit.)
2. How did you find your apartment rental?
We used HomeAway, as we'd done the previous winter. We wanted to be on the
San Polo side of the Grand Canal, we needed high-speed Internet access, and we
needed an apartment where dogs were welcome. We found several possibilities
among HomeAway's listings, and we were able to get our first choice.
3. How much did you pay and did you negotiate (price or terms)? What are your negotiating strategies when renting short-term apartments?
We paid 60 euros a night, for a total of 4,200 euros, which is a decent rate
for Venice. The price was a substantial discount from a short-term rental or a
stay during the high season, so we didn't quibble about price. We dislike
haggling, so our strategy is to look for an apartment in our ballpark price
range, request a quote for a specific period, and say "yes" or "no" depending on
the landlord's price.
4. Did you try any strategies for finding a rental that didn’t work?
Not this time. On other occasions, when we've needed an apartment on shorter
notice or during high season, we'd had to spend more time researching places to
stay. But in the off-season (especially in the dead of winter), rentals are
fairly easy to come by.
5. Did you experience any unanticipated problems, either with your rental or the location?
No, we didn't have any problems at all. In the evening, we often heard the
voices of our landlord's children coming from the family's apartment next door,
but that was fine with us.
6. Now that you’ve done your rental, what would you do differently? What would you do the same? Would you recommend where you went as a
good place to spend a month?
We'd do pretty much the same thing. We've rented quite a few apartments and
cottages in Europe via the Internet or (back in the day) by fax or snail mail.
So far, we haven't had a bad experience. Our luck with apartments has been at
least as good as our luck with hotels.
7. What advice would you give to other travelers looking for a reasonably priced apartment in the same location?
I'd suggest starting with a site like HomeAway or VRBO, or possibly with a
specialist agency like Mitwohnzentrale in Venice or–in Paris–Glenn Cooper's
Rentals in Paris or Michele Vannoni's Paris Rental Connections. Another option,
if you're flexible and want the best possible rate, is to check with local
real-estate or apartment agencies after you arrive.
8. Other than the rental we’ve focused on, if you’ve done apartment rentals in other places, what were some of the best ones?
We recently stayed in a delightful–and affordable–studio apartment in Paris
that we found on the Web. Not too long before that, we rented a one-bedroom apartment
in central Rome that had a private patio and opened onto a palazzo's courtyard.
(I think we found that apartment on VRBO.) And in Northern Europe, we've booked
apartments and cottages through local tourist offices.
We've been arranging short-term rentals from afar since the 1970s, and we haven't been fleeced or disappointed yet!
About the interviewee.
Durant and Cheryl Imboden publish Europe for Visitors, a Forbes and Washington Post Best of the Web editorial travel-planning site that dates back to 1997. In the last half-dozen years alone, the site has attracted nearly 20 million visits and more than 72 million pageviews. They also publish a Venice-specific blog http://veniceforvisitors.com .
From the Editors – 3 Quick Tips for Things to Do in Venice
1. Eat vegan gelato at Gelateria Il Doge, 49 Campo Santa Margherita. They have rice milk and soy milk options, and flavors include the most delicious of all gelato flavors – Hazelnut. There are lots of people who have dairy allergies/intolerance in Italy so you can find some dairy-free gelato options.
2. Go to Carnevale di Venezia – a pre-lent festival. 2014 dates are Feb 22 to March 4 (plan well ahead if you want to find an apartment for this time. Venice’s carnival gets 3 million visitors).
3. Take a Venice Gondola Ride.