Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Ever Stay at a Hotel

So, I ate for cheap, drank for next to nothing, and entertained myself for free in the Cinque Terre.  But where did I stay?

See that window that's wide open?  It’s ours.
Right above a delicious deli!
We rented an apartment for a week in Riomaggiore.  Here’s me enjoying our view:

It's hard to enjoy beautiful scenery without a glass of wine in your hand.
Inside, the studio was clean, nice, and way bigger than any hotel room.

Several amenities, the most important being the bidet... those Italians know how to use the loo in style!

And less than a 1/6 of a mile away, we found this:

If you think this picture is awesome, I guarantee the view was
100 times better in person!

I found the studio on Home Away.  Click here to find the exact property.

We paid €430 (about $527) for one week.  Comparatively, I paid $589 for a clean, but not impressive hotel in Rome for just FOUR nights.  And it's not just an awesome savings for the actual apartment.  Living like a local means cooking like a local.
While dining at home, Frank tried to light a gas stove that does not require lighting, so we are lucky these pictures do not feature any explosions.
Even though staying in a hotel has perks (i.e. continental breakfast), getting a vacation rental allows you to cook some of your own meals. I love tasting the cuisine of the region, but if you want to be economical, you've got to spend carefully. Cooking in our apartment just a few times allowed us to have some really nice dinners out.  And even though we cooked at home, we weren't exactly making mac and cheese.

Our appetizer course: proscuitto, anchovies, and caprese tomatoes.
All of this cost about €5.
This is the third time I’ve successfully used a home rental service.  The first was in Paris, also using Home Away. 
The bed and couch were one in the same
A little more compact, but with a view just as great!
And most importantly, also an awesome location, in the 4th Arrondisement, around the corner from Place des Vosges and not very far from Notre Dame.

Victor Hugo lived in Place Des Vosges.  You know, the guy who
wrote Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Find the ad by clicking here.

As in Italy, we were not disappointed, and the price was only $775 for a week.

While seems pretty successful for European destinations, I have also used (Vacation Rentals By Owner) for travel within the states.  Six of my friends and I rented a place on Sanibel Island in Southwest Florida.
The view from our two bedroom apartment... can't you tell I
took this through the screen?
The location was great, the cost was great, the owner was not that great about communicating, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Total Cost: A beautiful place in Italy €430/week, about $75 per night

Best Deal: Buying pasta, pesto, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, anchovies and wine at the local deli for about €20 for TWO dinners

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