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Do's and Don'ts When Renting a Condo in Europe
Here's what you should know before renting a condo on your next vacation across the pond.
Searching for agencies with dedicated teams that can help you identify the right accommodations for your needs and assist if something goes awry is key for ensuring a smooth, stress-free experience.(Getty Images)
Renting a condo for your European getaway can be a smart and practical decision. After all, instead of packing your family into a single hotel room or renting several rooms, you can book a condo with separate living and sleeping areas, a designated kitchen and all the amenities and creature comforts of home. But booking vacation rentals in another country can be tricky. Between picking the right accommodations, navigating the language barrier, dealing with elusive property listings and understanding complicated booking processes, you may be tempted to forgo renting altogether. But take heart: A little legwork and pro pointers can go a long way in taking the guesswork out of renting abroad, so you know what to expect once you arrive.
With that in mind, here are some clever practices to help ensure your European getaway goes off without a hitch, from start to finish.
Do: Consider Renting from an Agency
While renting a condo from Airbnb or directly from an owner is all the rage these days, you shouldn't discount the benefits of renting a condo from an agency. In Paris, for example, you can rent a condo from a company like ParisPerfect.com and get the benefits of Airbnb without having to deal with an individual owner. Plus, you won't have to worry about setting up a meeting time for arrival at your new condo. What's more, booking with a rental agency gives you have access to a dedicated team whose sole job is getting you into your condo and making sure the process is smooth and seamless.
By renting through an agency, "you also know exactly what to expect," says Madelyn Byrne, founder and owner of ParisPerfect.com. "The same cannot be said for a company like Airbnb where nothing is standardized across their massive database of apartments," she says.
Do: Take Stock of Included Amenities
Renting a condo in Europe can be especially difficult because you never know what is – and isn't – included unless you read the fine print. It's fairly common for condo rentals to come without air conditioning or charge extra for electricity or a midweek change of towels or sheets. In many European cities, you'll also need to pay a city tax upon arrival. Brushing up on the terms and conditions to know what's included and what you'll need to pay extra for is the best way to plan ahead and avoid sticker shock.
Do: Book a Condo in the Thick of the Action
If you're renting a condo in a big European city or in the countryside, make sure you research neighborhoods and the general area ahead of time. You'll want to make sure you're close to public transportation and attractions you want to spend time exploring. If you look for a condo in Rome, for example, ensure you're not booking a condo on the outskirts of the city that's not close to any top attractions. If you want to be close to a specific neighborhood a train station, make sure you search for condos nearby where you want to be located.
Do: Protect Yourself by Paying with the Right Credit Card
When you're renting a condo, it's crucial to pay with a credit card instead of debit or a check. By paying with the right credit card, you can ensure you're covered if your condo rental falls through or you fall victim to a scam. If you have any problem with your condo rental or it doesn't pan out as you think, you can call your credit card company and dispute the charge, and let them handle it. If you pay with debit or cash, you're pretty much on your own.
Don't: Forget to Ask about Parking
If you have a rental car, don't forget to inquire about parking. Many European cities don't have ample parking and your rental condo may not have parking at all. Make sure to ask ahead of time and explore parking options and costs, if applicable.
Don't: Overthink the Details
Remember that booking a condo in Europe isn't the same as renting a condo in the states. You may not have all the kitchen appliances you have at home, for example. The air conditioning might not be quite as brisk, and the beds and rooms may be smaller. Rather than expecting a standardized stay, embrace cultural traditions (and alternative amenities) and stay flexibility rather than sweating the details for a more satisfactory stay.
Don't: Book with a Suspect Company or Individual
Aside from considering rental agencies outside of Airbnb and other major peer-to-peer booking sites, look for other agencies that are reputable. To ensure a quality stay, make sure to look out for any red flags. Vet potential outfitters by reading plenty of recent reviews. Also, keep in mind reputable agencies will also have a helpful and transparent website, and they should be willing answer your phone calls and emails.
Don't: Forget to Take Advantage of Amenities
Renting a condo can be more advantageous than renting a hotel since you have more room to spread out as well as a kitchen to cook in. Don't forget to take advantage of these amenities, Byrne says. That way, you'll have an authentic vacation experience. Renting a condo also gives you "the opportunity to save money on meals, having a full kitchen at your disposal," Byrne explains. "Guests can truly feel as though they are living as a Parisian [by] getting a baguette and croissants each morning at the local boulangerie, buying produce from the open-air markets or putting together your own wine and cheese tasting in your apartment."
While conducting your search, keep in mind that a brand-backed hotel can offer a standard level of service, but renting condo can let you live like a local. And if you're traveling to Europe – especially for the first time – that could be the most rewarding experience of all.
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About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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