Alternative Accommodations: 2011
House swapping, convents and monasteries, college dorms... when it comes to beds, the less you spend, the more of Europe you experience. Others swear by renting a "flat" (apartment) or "villa" and becoming a temporary local. Any tips about fun, unique, or unusual accommodations?
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
It was a bit nerve wrecking to stay in a stranger's home but it was the best decision I made. I stayed in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, just 9 min. from the Cathedral with a wonderful host who opens his home to travelers willing to share their adventures, experiences, philosophies etc. Just use common sense and search carefuly like anything else. My daughter has been traveling throughout Europe with Couch Surfing and introduced me to this great way of meeting new friends.
Tustin, CA USA Fri 12/16/2011
London Hotel Construction Noise
London - The Premier Inn Kensington is a great place due to its proximity to the Museum of Natural History, the Science Museum, V&A, Harrods, etc. and value for families. However, they are currently renovating, so if you have issues with construction noise between 8 am to 5 pm, stay elsewhere until they can confirm that their renovations are completed.
We chose to use the construction noise as our reminder to get started for the day. (Was there the week of Nov. 17, 2011)
San Francisco, CA USA Thu 12/01/2011
Villa In Panzanno, Italy
Our villa, Piccola Torre 3, in Panzanno, Italy, was second to none in location, friendly and welcoming staff, and picture-perfect view and facility." We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Tuscany and particularly liked the location, views, nearby vineyards, and outstanding wine.
Rochester, Mn USA Thu 12/01/2011
Lucca was the perfect place to base out of due to all the public transportation available and accessable. We stayed in an apartment in the anfiteatro and loved the charm and old European life style. We cooked 80% of our dinners in because we love to cook and it was fun shopping for the ingrediants with the local merchants. We would highly reccommend learning some Italian before departure as we did not run into lots of english speaking people in Lucca. We loved Venice! Watch out for Coperta charges..if you sit at a table, even to rest your feet, there is a charge. Other day trips took us to Cinque Terra, Pisa, Veraggio and a hidden gem. Montecatini Alto. The apartment was equipped enough to get by...we even had a dryer that consisted of a rack and fan..We found that charming for the month we were there. Fabulous trip and a fullfilled dream of a life time.
Seattle, wa USA Tue 11/29/2011
Girardi Villa in Tuscany
The Villa "Girardi" that I found on Rentvillas.com was beyond my expectations. When I found it on their website I knew it was was the one I wanted to rent and just booked it without looking at any others. It was clean, comfortable and the family upstairs was as charming as the villa. They went out of their way to make us comfortable. The grounds were stunning as were the views. Cortona was so charming and a great location to get to other cities. Florence, Sienna, Rome just to mention a few of the many we were able to see. We rented a car, and driving was much easier than I would have thought. Many thanks to Ivan ( the son of the family upstairs) for making us laugh, telling us stories.. and picking us up at the train station! It is a trip I will never forget!
Westerville, OH USA Mon 11/28/2011
Villa in Tuscany
I stayed at the Villa Sella for one week in Tuscany this past October (2011) which I rented through rentvillas.com it was a wonderful experience and the accommodations were perfect. Each bedroom has it's own bathroom which was great with two couples and one single person. The view from the verandah was like a painting of Tuscany. We ate our meals by candle light each night. Also, it was still warm enough to use the pool which was a delight. I highly recommend this venue!
Denver, CO USA Mon 11/21/2011
Renting a villa thru Rentavilla!
We went to Tuscany and stayed at LaCorte 3 Villa in Orentano. The villa was beautiful and a wonderful base to travel to the beautiful towns and cities. Buses were easy to travel on and the train was great!! Lucca was only 10 miles away and lovely. If you are traveling and have a chance to rent a villa, do it. It was one of the best decisions we made!
Jenkintown, PA USA Sun 11/20/2011
Affordable lodging in Siena
I have a tip for a place in Siena that I think you could call a rooming house or pensione. There is one caveat, however, which I'll get to in a second. The place is called Xenia. It's very basic, and thus very affordable. Old, but they keep it very clean and the rooms have everything you need, very affordable, in the center of everything, pretty much. They have one or two private bathrooms, but mostly it's shared bathroom and kitchen and laundry facilities on each floor. You do get your own frig and cabinets for food. It's in Contrada dell'Oca, near the sanctuary of St Catherine and Fontebranda, on a quite steep street.
The caveat is this: only stay here is it's short term, or if you know that you won't want to be at home much at all. This is true at least in the summer, when I was there for the month of August. The reason for this is that they rent rooms to many music students from Chigiana Academy. They are excellent, world class musicians, but unfortunately, many of them choose to practice at home rather than at the school. Now, I love music, but I don't want to hear it all the time, or when I'm trying to work or study, which I was. Also, it's not so great to listen to when it's practicing scales and such.
So, in summary, good place to stay, if you plan to be out most of the day sightseeing.
Also, I'm not sure if this is true year-round, as I don't know what kind of activity there is at Chigiana academy apart from the summer workshop season.
I will say that the owner and managers were very helpful and welcoming, very nice people.
NYC, NY USA Wed 11/16/2011
Fattoria Varramista 56020 Montopoli Val d'Arno, Italy
Villa, fabulous. Staff kind and well informed on history of Fattoria Varramista.Montopoli Val d' Arno Italy Tuscany Region Funamenal in beauty and take away memories !
Waterloo, Iowa USA Fri 11/11/2011
Villa rentals in Tuscany
We recently used "Rentvillas.com" to book a villa in Certaldo, Italy. It was, by far, the way to go. We loved being out of a big city but close enough to all the roads that led to treasured Tuscan destinations like Montelcino, Montepulciano, Volterra, etc. The villa we rented was spectacular, modern and easily met our needs. We made it our "own" as soon as we settled in. The agency is especially good at communicating with its customers and relayed such great "pre-trip" tips that we felt as if we had a private guide.
Davidson, NC USA Tue 11/08/2011
Nice rental near Lucca
We found a nice villa rental near Lucca, via RentVillas.com (La Corte property). It was in Orentano, near Altopasco, right off the autostrada, but very secluded and quiet. We had very easy access to Lucca, Carrera, Fiernze, Bolognia -- all of northern Toscana. Great for kids (loved the pool and grounds). The local restaurants and people were great. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Half Moon Bay, Ca USA Mon 11/07/2011
Murano Palace is a gem
We stayed at the Murano Palace B&B on Murano Island near Venice based on a recommendation on the Graffiti wall. We were not disappointed. This is a gem of a place - beautifully decorated, and the breakfast is superb. Host Cesare enjoys talking with his guests and providing information on Venice. The rates are very reasonable and its just a 20 minute boat ride to Venice itself.
Issaquah, WA USA Fri 11/04/2011
My wife and I, traveling with various small groups of friends, have greatly enjoyed staying at villas in Italy, at about half the cost per person of a hotel room, and with far more spacious accommodations. We feel much more a part of the country's life as well. Our most recent delightful experience was at Villa Sella in Tuscany, arranged through RentVillas, an agency that we have found to be especially good at anticipating the needs and wishes of US visitors. Whether in [INVALID]ing a villa or in encountering a situation anywhere along the way, we suggest never hesitating to ask that one more question.
Grosse Pointe, MI USA Wed 11/02/2011
We stayed at the Villa del Cielo with Caminetto near Siena in September. It was perfect! Plenty of room for the six of us. Beautiful grounds. We had everything we wanted including a beautiful swimming pool. We all agreed it was the best vacation accommodations ever.
Woodbury, MN USA Wed 11/02/2011
Home rental in Tuscany
We were traveling with two kids (8 and 11) in Italy and decided that it would be a great idea to rent a centrally located house. We had a few down days and used the house to explore Tuscany. We rented near Barberino Val d'Elsa in Tuscany through Rentvillas.com: approximately mid-way between Siena and Florence. The house itself (referred to as Donatello in the rentvilla site) was wonderful! Emma and Giancarlo were perfect hosts: they really made this stay truly memorable. Their welcome on Saturday night was perfect. We also had a great experience with them on Thursday discovering how olive oil is made and tasting olive oil produced from their own olives! Our children loved learning about how ice cream is made with Emma. This was a really nice change of pace from our stay in Rome. We were recharged to continue on to Venice after our week in Tuscany.
Portland, OR USA Wed 10/19/2011
Apartment in Paris
We rented an apartment in Paris from Isabelle at IsabellesApartments.com/Paris.htm. She has several apartments and we rented the Marie Antoinette apartment. It was on the 7th floor (with elevator) of a building right on the Seine River and about 2 blocks from the Bir Hakeiim metro stop. The apartment was clean and quiet. It was a great experience and we won't ever rent a hotel room in Paris again. We'll definitely rent an apartment from Isabelle again
NC USA Wed 10/19/2011
Reims: Bad experience at Grand Hôtel Continental
Ensure that you aren't assigned to rooms beginning with 000. They're dark, dingy and down 14 stairs (although the front desk agent told us it was "just a few steps"). I don't mind steps - that's Europe - but don't lie to me. Don't know about the other rooms, but be careful of these. We couldn't move because this hotel and all others listed in Rick's book were sold out. We were there for 3 nights. It was miserable.
Tempe, AZ USA Tue 10/18/2011
Monica Lecari Honeymoon Suite
Monica Lecari Honeymoon Suite is a gem! Monica's apartment high above the town and recommended by Rick was one of our favorites for our recent Italy trip. Monica was a superb host and the apartment was just spectacular with a warm elegance and fantastic views of the entire village and coastline of Cinque Terre. Two bedrooms, a kitchen and wonderful bathroom, just a glorious stay. Recommend to all! Thank you Monica and Massimo for such a great experience!
Los Angeles, CA USA Mon 10/17/2011
Villa Del Cielo with Caminetto - near Siena
A villa that comfortably accommodated three families, 6 kids and 6 adults, in a spacious, beautiful setting. The grounds were wonderful for the kids to explore. The indoor and outdoor tables for 12 were wonderful, and you couldn't beat the setting of the table under the vine-covered arbor or the views of the Tuscan Hills as the sunset or a rainbow appeared. The pool is large and a great asset during the summer, especially with kids. The location just outside of Siena was convenient for day tripping to the various hill towns, as well as Siena, by car. Being close to Siena was convenient for catching the train to Florence. With a larger family group or multiple families/friends, this is a wonderful property that provides both common areas for congregating but plenty of space for each party's own time, as well. Rentvillas was great to work with -- very responsive when questions were asked, and when I forgot something at the villa after returning home, helpful in returning those items to me. Highly recommend both this property as well as rentvillas.com
Duluth, MN USA Wed 10/12/2011
Villa Rental in Tuscany
We rented Podera della Fraternita from rentvillas.com in July, 2011. The villa deserves a 5 star rating. The hosts were very accommodating and the villa was situated in the center of Tuscany. The villa sleeps up to 8-10, all 4 bedrooms had ensuite bathrooms; the villa is complete with a pool and all the amenities you would need for a week's stay in Tuscany.
Phoenix, AZ USA Mon 10/10/2011
Where NOT to stay in Vernazza
This is where NOT to stay in Vernazza. L'Angelica looked beautiful on the website Cinque Terre Riviera and it was very much as described: close to the church--church bells at all hours, right above restaurants and pubs--late night diners and all night drinkers. These are things a seasoned traveler just chalks up and better luck next time but our hostess was extremely rude and left me wondering for days what I had done to offend her in the two minutes it took to drag us to the room. There was not enough hot water to take a three minute shower and the floor of the main room was FILTHY! In the five short steps to the tiny bathroom my feet were covered with animal hair, sand, dust and debris. It was extremely expensive and I only booked it because of the appealing visual ad. Don't be fooled and don't be rudely treated.
Blackfoot, ID USA Mon 10/10/2011
Tuscany vacation in a villa
Rentvillas.com helped my family plan a great week at a villa in Tuscany. Tenuta Santa Caterina = Beate is an apartment/unit in a farmhouse about 25 minutes from Florence. The property is lovely and very private. The owners were very hospitable and cooked delicious Tuscan meals on the weekend. The location allowed us to make day trips to Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, San Gimigniano, and many other beautiful Tuscan towns.
Lisa A. Golub
Huntington, NY USA Mon 10/10/2011
Villa in Umbria
Fourteen thumbs up, two for each of the seven people who stayed at Villa del Castello. We were expecting a great place to stay, but we were not prepared for the quality of the furnishings and features. They were above and beyond our wildest expectations.
While there was nothing about Villa del Castello that we didn't like, the outside area has to be the most pleasant aspect of the villa. It is a wonderful gathering place in the evenings with the cool breeze continuing into the night. The stocked wine cellar adds a lot to the ambiance...
The location of Villa del Castello and Torre Alfina is extremely convenient. It is in the proximity of several interesting places - Orvieto, Tuscany, hill towns. And larger towns like Assisi and Florence are no more than a day-trip away.
We stayed directly in Torre Alfina, within a five minute walk of two good restaurants and two good gelato shops. They are the only two restaurants in Torre Alfina, but that has nothing to do with the property. We had to travel a few kilometers to go to different places to eat. The small grocery store is usually adequate for breakfast needs.
We stayed in Torre Alfina the first week in July and while it was hot elsewhere, the country air was brisk many evenings, so don't forget to pack a light jacket or fleece. It might be 90 degrees in Rome but evenings on the patio can get a bit cool in Torre Alfina.
Getting to the village and villa is a snap. We used a GPS but it is totally unnecessary. The directions from Rentvillas are much clearer and more direct. Checking in and out couldn't have been any easier. Alex met us at the front gate as we pulled up, and after his brief but thorough explanations, we were inside choosing bedrooms within five minutes.
Overall, the service provided by Rentvillas.com is exemplary. We were well prepared not only for the villa but also for Italy. Rentvillas.com supplies booklets, maps, suggested day-trips, and many sources for further information.
On our next trip to Italy, we will definitely look at both Rentvillas.com and Villa del Castello again. They both have much more to offer than we had time to take advantage of.
Celina, OH USA Thu 10/06/2011
Alternative to Cinque Terre hotels
Everyone wants to visit the Cinque Terre and that's as it should be! However, staying in the 5 lands is exhausting....just too much! We have found a wonderful family run hotel in a quiet peaceful village just a short 5 towns past Monterosso. Hotel Maggiore in Moneglia is perfect. The accomodations are clean, comfortable, tranquil, friendly and not hard on the budget. the food is wonderful, simple Italian tradional fare. The staff is friendly and always very helpful with accurate information and good suggestions in English if you wish! We have been staying at Hotel Maggiore for 12 years and cannot say enough good things about it.
duluth, mn usa Fri 09/30/2011
Italy: a longer stay for an older woman alone
This past spring I stayed in a house in Torre Alfina, a small town near Tuscany, for almost a month. As a 71 year-old woman with 82 year-old feet plus not a lot of experience traveling alone in Europe, the long stay allowed me to settle into the house, the town and region in a very relaxed way. I found the house, Villa del Castello, through Rentvillas.com, who held my hand throughout the whole process. I quickly learned that whatever "villa" meant in Roman times, now it pretty much applies to any big house or group of houses with some grounds that maybe contain a flower or vegetable garden! I finally spotted one with really nice, walkable grounds and a level, 2-minute stroll into town. The more romantic-looking places were often too far from a town or too hilly. You'd need a car to go anywhere and I wanted to have easy access to some do-able daily exercise. Being able to walk into town for breakfast and dinners as well as to shop in the few tiny stores for staples also helped me to feel part of Italy's everyday life. Just as people had said, I made friends very quickly and when I wanted company I simply strolled over to one of their houses and we'd share a glass of wine and talk. I loved being on my own but it was equally nice to have people to talk to! Thanks to an online Italian course, I was able to have simple conversations and also talk with the young caretaker and his wife who came almost every day for an hour or two. My new friends loved giving me tips and taking me to some of the nearby sights, fairs and supermarkets. On day trips, I often pushed myself physically in order to take in a lovely vista or local shop or restaurant. The most challenging of these was to Assisi, which required climbing lots of steep hills and stairs. Though I was half-dead after, and then had to drive back on a crowded freeway and around endless hairpin mountain curves, it was more than worth it and I'd do it again. I knew that when I got "home" I could take a shower and lie in that glorious hammock on the rolling green lawn, reading while listening to birds and luxuriating in the breezes, raising my eyes now and then to look out over distant fields and hills. It wasn't all smooth sailing lights out during a storm, broken kitchen table, dead car battery, ants and getting lost were some of the challenges but each was an opportunity to learn about the people and culture as well as to gain some self-confidence. If I had only one recommendation, it would be to make sure to learn enough Italian for simple conversations, not just the everyday greetings everyone knows. It makes all the difference, both for communication and also to show these warm, sensitive people that you care enough to try to speak their language. Once they see that, hearts open, and you will almost certainly be slipped an extra pastry or two with your morning cappuccino!
New York, NY USA Tue 09/27/2011
Rentvillas in Tuscany
We booked a villa through Rentvillas and stayed at Villa Antoinette in Tuscany near Greve in Chianti. We had 10 in our group and loved every minute of our stay. Jacopo cooked for us 3 nights, which we loved, and we took day trips to Florence, Siena and Lucca. Relaxing by the pool was delightful as well. Would definitely return!
Mary F Stewart
Atlanta, GA USA Mon 09/26/2011
Serene Caulaincourt Apt in Montmartre
This is the second apartment we rented through "Feels like home in Paris" (www.feelslikehomeinparis.com), and this time we enjoyed our stay even more. "Serene Caulaincourt" is very good flat to stay in. First, it has everything one needs to be comfortable. I can't think of anything we missed. Perhaps, only a full size mirror (there is one on the fireplace). Frankly, I didn't need one, but my wife and daughter noticed . We didn't need to call Yetunde, our hostess and FLHP general manager, during our recent two-week stay to request anything (well, we probably should've called and thanked her, sorry). The apt is well situated with a short (less than 5 min) walk to the subway station; furthermore, the bus stop is just outside of the door. Yetunde gave us detailed maps of bus routes, so we used buses mostly. It takes about 15-20 min to ride to the city center (say, Opera house). The apartment is also pretty close to the CDG airport – we took a taxi, and it cost us EUR35, about the same price three of us would pay for public transportation. G20 supermarket is just across rue Caulaincourt, a boulangerie is next door, and Café la Cepage is just downstairs. Sacre Coeur is a 10 min walk away. A great advantage of this apartment is that it is quiet. In fact, the loudest outside sounds we heard were the doves cooing. Besides it has everything carefully, thoughtfully and professionally set up for pleasant staying. There is a detailed manual (on the laptop) for what is inside the flat and very useful and valuable tips for outside activities.
CA USA Sat 09/24/2011
BAD hostel at Glencolmcille
Aras Ghleann Cholm Cille hostel www.arasgcc.com
My husband and I booked two nights at this hostel. We had never booked a hostel before, but as we found very little on the internet for this remote area, we decided to try it. We wanted to explore the area for a couple of days and thought it might be nice to have cooking facilities, as there appeared to be no restaurants in the area. I corresponded with the owner via email, asking about accomodations, facilities, etc and was told I'd need to pay a deposit in advance, which I did, through pay pal. When we arrived at the big yellow hostel in May, we discovered it empty and locked. I went to the nearest house to inquire about the hostel and owner and he was kind enough to contact her on her cell. She said she was sorry, but she was in another town and unable to get back to us that night. The neighbor escorted us to a pub, closer into town, in hopes of finding a place for the night. The bartender suggested another hostel, which didn't appear on the internet at the time of my search (they don't have a website). He contacted the owner, who sent a woman down to unlock the doors at the new hostel, where we spent the night. We were grateful to have a place to stay for the night, as it was getting late. After arriving back home in Germany, I contacted the owner of Aras Ghleann Cholm Cille Hostel, requesting a refund for my deposit, as we had not stayed in her hostel; she agreed to return it to me via pay pal, but I've never received a cent.
We were scammed, so learn from our experience and DO NOT stay at
Aras Ghleann Cholm Cille hostel.
However, the area of Glencolmcille has spectacular coastal views and is worth a day trip.
Duesseldorf, Germany Thu 09/22/2011
Planning a trip to Provence? Have 6 or so folks? Check out the villa Calabrun outside St Remy de Provence on Rentvillas. It is FABULOUS and a great location for day trips!
Dallas, Texas USA Thu 09/22/2011
Wife and I took a trip to Italy and rented CASA CORTONA III. It was in a beautiful town (Cortona). The town is within walking distance through a couple of alleys. The town is all hills with only 2 straight roads. The Villa was quaint. Nice size for a basic stay. Had a small kitchen/sitting room/bath/and bedroom. Great for a homebase and central to other little towns. The con is it has paper thin walls. Otherwise it is a great place to stay. We mainly used it for sleeping we explored thru out the day. Thanks RentVilla for you great assistance. J.P.
Naperville, Il USA Thu 09/22/2011
Vacation Rental Homes
If we're planning on staying a week or more, we always seek out an apartment or home to rent. Recently we rented an apartment with a million dollar view in Portovenere, Italy (RentVillas.com). Not only is it comparable or less expensive than a hotel, you get a lot more privacy, space and creature comforts. We've rented beach homes, cabins in the woods, and luxury accomodations often for less than we'd pay for a cramped hotel room. The process is usually smooth and quick. Google and TripAdvisor are excellent search engines for finding the right place for you.
Woodland Hills, CA USA Tue 09/20/2011
We just returned from a 2 week stay in Italy having our "Rick Steves Italy" guidebook with us at all times. We spent our final 3 nights in Rome at Amaranto Romano, a guesthouse just recently opened. Nadia was so kind and helpful to us. The location is fabulous for sightseeing, dining, and shopping. We highly recommend it to everyone. Tom & Judy 9-20-11.
Tom & Judy
Excelsior Springs, Mo. USA Tue 09/20/2011
Il Cortile del Borgeto 12
We stayed a week at the Borgetto 12 and can honestly say it was wonderful. From the greetings, to accomodations, location, view, and the food. Our hosts were fantastic. It was our first visit to Tuscany and this stay met every expectation.
Bedford, NS Canada Tue 09/20/2011
Hotel in Pisa
If you're stopping off in Pisa for a night or two, I warmly recommend a friendly family-run hotel near the station at 75eur p/n. The couple who run it are very helpful and kind. Hotel Roseto, via Pietro Mascagni. www.hotelroseto.it; email@example.com. They also do a B&B for backpackers at a cheaper rate.
Guildford, UK Sun 09/18/2011
Hotel in Siena
We stayed in a lovely old converted convent, a historic building but no lift! lots of steps, as everywhere in Siena! It was comfortable, good breakfast in the square surrounded by cloisters and our room had superb view of roofs and beyond of the Tuscan landscape. Hotel Il Chiostro del Carmine, via della Diana. Not the cheapest but well worth the experience.
Guildford, USA Sun 09/18/2011
Dear Fellow Travelers, I used BedandBreakfast.com to choose a B&B for our trip to Spain. I made my choice based on the reviews of the B&B. Unfortunately, the B&B was much worse than offered, and I wrote a diplomatic, but negative review. BedandBreakfast.com will not post the negative review. I sent my confirmation of stay, my paypal confirmation of deposit, and this was not enough. They refuse to post the review. I feel I was completely misled about this B&B. If negative reviews are selectively excluded, then people trying to find accommodations will not be getting an accurate portrait of an establishment. Don't use BedandBreakfast.com if you want to really know what a B&B is like.
Portland, Oregon USA Tue 09/13/2011
HOTEL MONTREAL, ROME, ITALY
Dingy hotel, very little light, rude staff, Website promises internet in every room but not so, CANNOT change temperature settings on airconditioner ( set at 22 degrees celsius by hotel), lukewarm water, no manager on site and only way to contact him was by email according to staff. Have to climb some steps with luggage to access elevator so not truly a disabled access hotel
AMARILLO, TEXAS USA Mon 08/29/2011
Feels Like Home in Paris
We just recently visited Paris, and stayed in the Montmarte area. We used "Feels Like Home in Paris" to locate our apartment- Enchanting d'Orsel. It was a lovely apartment- made even more lovely by the extra care of Yetunde (the owner of Feels Like Home in Paris). She was there at our arrival, and had so much advice about our neighborhood and what to do during our time in Paris. Also, as part of your stay, you can attend a wine and cheese. I would really recommend it- it was one of the best parts of our time in Paris.
Toronto, ON Canada Wed 08/10/2011
Gill (a Brit) and Vasillas (her Greek husband) have several lovely small houses to rent, spotlessly clean, and continental breakfast provided every morning with fresh-baked bread. Highly recommend! Website: www/oldoiahouses.gr - you won't regret it.
Granite City, IL USA Wed 08/10/2011
Venice Italy super vacation rental
This was my fourth visit to Venice, having previously stayed at the Cipriani and San Clemente Palace. However, with a larger party to pay for, an apartment seemed the only sensible solution. I am glad I chose Venice Rentals. They are a thoroughly professional company, with customer care at the heart of their operations. From the time of booking to departure after our stay, they provided a complete yet unobtrusive service, with lots of helpful advice and extras only normally obtained through the concierge of a good hotel. Upon being shown around the apartment upon arrival, the advantages and small disadvantages were honestly explained. The apartment itself was true to the description given on their web site. If rental companies were classified in the same way as hotels, this one is undoubtedly five star and I would not hesitate in recommending it to any discerning traveller. www.venicerentals.com
Kind Regards and thanks,
USA Tue 08/09/2011
We recently returned from a fantastic 32 day trip to Europe and wanted to share of the great lodging we had:
Mykonos: Hotel Anastasi Sevasti was amazing! they seemed to be new but the rooms were beautiful, the breakfast room was breathtaking and the customer service was excellent. There were great views too! And it was reasonable. We would highly recommend it: www.anastasiosevasti.com
Lake Como, Italy: This was recommended by Rick Steves. The view was fantastic and it was a cool hotel which used to be monastery but the owner was very grumpy and rude. It's a hike to get up there but the views are worth it. www.eremogaudio.it
French Riviera: Our hotel was in Villefranche which has so more character than Nice. The hotel provided nice views and was a bit far from the train station but we had a nice room with a balcony. www.hotel-dela-darse-villefranche-sur-mer.cote.azur.fr
Swiss Alps: Pension Gimmelwald Hotel in the Alps; Gorgeous views; great owners; B&B feel-very charming; delicious food too and close to youth hostel. www.pensiongimmelwald.com
Assisi, Italy We ate here on our 2008 trip and intended to stay this time but had schedule conflicts. It was literally the best meal we had in our life and the agriturisimo was gorgeous. http://agriturismoilmelograno.com/
Athens, Greece This hotel was an excellent location, right next to the Acropolis. It was a nice room on a busy street and so easy to get to from train station. You can ask for a view of Acropolis too! hotelphaedra.com
Santorini, Greece This was the splurge of our trip. We stayed in a cave house on the cliffs of Oia (Santorini) with gorgeous patio, steps to the cave house, outdoor hot tub and swimming pool!! www.filoteravillas.gr/
Amsterdam: excellent location in the Jordaan; very international and nice guests and staff www.hotelvanonna.nl
Vienna, Austria: A historic hotel right in the Ring so great location and Mozart once lived there. The room was nice and our view was of the square.
Arlington, VA USA Wed 08/03/2011
B&B in Copenhagen, DK
We stayed with Esben Juhl at his home in Copenhagen and truly enjoyed the beautiful art work, lovely balcony and clean and warm surroundings in a great neighborhood. It was a pleasure to stay with Esben. I would highly recommend it!
Larkspur, CA USA Mon 07/25/2011
On a recent visit to London I found two wonderful accommodations via Airbnb. Affordable, great hosts, excellent locations. Am going to use this website for all of my future travels.
Los Angeles, CA USA Sat 07/16/2011
Bolzano to St Moritz and the Bernina Express
We wanted to view Otsi, the Ice Man in Bozen/Bolzano. South Tyrol. The issue then was how to travel to take the Bernina Express, then wind up in Geneva for our flight home. It seemed to us like a seven or eight hour train trip either through Innsbruck or back through Milan. It would take a day we did not have. The Swiss couple at the next breakfast table at Hotel Feichter had a welcome solution, take the train to Mosen/Molsano, the Post Bus to Zernez and the train again to the village of LaPunt Chamues-ch. very near, and instead of, St Moritz/Pontresina to try to save money. A stunning trip! Seamless. We were without reservations in La Punt and ran into instant Swiss franc sticker shock! Then we were sent to Sonja Bannwart and Pension Chesi Zuppo. Tucked to one side of a small handmade custom furniture shop and next to the walking path on a mountain stream, this affordable accommodation was for us. From rustic to comfortable, there were a range of rooms and prices. Sonja was a helpful delight and handles at least four languages plus her local Romansh. The Romansh speaking furniture guys waved their arms, smiled and helped us because Sonja was at a wedding. It was raining. She said take a key and see you in the morning. We did and were so pleased. firstname.lastname@example.org
Mt Vernon, WA USA Fri 07/15/2011
Special weekend in Milan
I went to Milan for a romantic weekend with my sweetie and I stayed at Hotel Star..such a lovely place! Perfect location downtown the city, just 5 minutes walk from the Duomo and La Scala Theater. My superior room was bright with a big bathroom with jet tube and we have good breakfast. Good value for money!!! http://www.hotelstar.it/
Treviso, Italy Mon 07/11/2011
Villas in Tuscany
We recently rented a villa in Tuscany through RentVillas and it was fabulous! RentVillas made it easy to find a really nice location, prices are listed up front (choose a "shoulder" period for lower cost) and the description was entirely honest and accurate. There might be cheaper ways to rent a villa but RentVillas took the uncertainty out of renting "blind." AND they are VERY helpful with any and all questions!
New London, CT USA Sat 07/09/2011
We really enjoyed renting the Tuscan villa L'Ippocastano 1 in Camucia/Cortona, Italy and using it as a base for short drives to other places like the wine country, Assisi, Sienna, and Firenze. The owner, Federica and other travelers were super, especially our new Russian friends, Liza and Vladimir.
Virginia Beach, VA USA Sat 07/09/2011
Villa rental in Tuscany
We had a wonderful time in Southern Tuscany renting a Farm House/ Villa for a week. It was located next to an idyllic little village Radicofani and the view were just breathtaking! The house was perfect, spotless, beds were nice, linens good and the owner cooked us original tuscan food including wild boar and lamb! Had three generations enjoy the week in the villa and everybody enjoyed the time there.
Lake Worth, FL USA Fri 07/08/2011
Europe trip May 2011
We were in Paris in May and couldn't find a place through our trusty Rick Steves so went on line to Ah Paris and found a great apartment in the Marias district. Also had the same problem in Rome and went to cross-pollinate for an apartment in Transvere. The apartment was clean and nice and Stephano was a great help and although the metro connections are difficult the neighborhood was charming and pleasant to walk through. Hostal Grau in Barcelona was wonderful they have just finished installing an elevator so the trip 5 stories to the apartment was a breeze. Also the Hostal Triana was very nice comfortable and convenient and the staff at all the places we stayed were wonderful and very helpful. Thanks Rick for helping us with a wonderful trip.
West Linn, OR USA Fri 07/08/2011
London Apartments for Rent
Finding a place to stay in London can be tricky and expensive! If you are looking for a nice, clean, affordable apartment, with a great location in the heart of the city. I would recommend checking out London Connection on Facebook and also www.connectionsmg.com The apartments accommodate one-eight people and range in price from 183-550 a night in US Dollars. Thank you! Safe travels!
Salt Lake City, UT USA Wed 06/29/2011
I just returned from 38 days in Italy and Rick Steve's Rome and Italy books were my constant companions. I booked all of my accommodations ahead of time and they were all recommendations from Rick Steve's books except one. I wasn't finding anything that was working with my schedule on the Almalfi Coast, so I went online and found La Maliosa Arienzo-and it was great! It's a small place just outside of Positano, but only about 50 meters from a bus stop. Hardworking Felix, a transplant from Naples, owns and runs La Maliosa. He's a cook and loves to make you dinner if you ask. He also likes to show you magazines that he and his place are showcased in. Each room has it's own bathroom and doors that open up onto their own terrace with views of the sea below-he even has his own beach for your use. Prices were reasonable and included a good breakfast. It was quiet and a welcome break after Rome. Felix hadn't heard of Rick Steve's, but enjoyed looking through his book even though he was dismayed at not being in it. You can check La Maliosa Arienzo out at www.lamaliosa.it.
Lindale, TX USA Tue 06/21/2011
holiday apartment online listing
Check out www.9flats.com - there is a range of accomodation there, from rooms in someone's apartment to whole apartments.
Berlin, Berlin Germany Wed 06/15/2011
Douro Valley, Portugal
Highly recommend Quinta de Sao Xisto, a small family-owned private vineyard/village where nearly every little stone house has been remodeled into a guesthouse. About 20 minutes from Pesqueira, which is south east of Pinhao, the eastern end of what Rick considers the most beautiful stretch of the Douro Valley--it is the most beautiful place I've ever been! We were the first Americans to stay here and Mario couldn't have been friendlier. Each stone house was completely modernized with a small kitchen included. Mario gave us several bottles of wine as gifts. Also has a pool. Lower prices than you will find at other quintas listed in Rick's Portugal book. Recommend you return to Pesqueira for dinner & Mario will recommend a restaurant for good steaks.
Allentown, PA USA Sun 06/12/2011
Near Nazare, Portugal
Don't stay in Nazare. Stay at Casal da Eira Branca instead just outside of Caldas da Rainha. We were fortunate to meet a retired American physician who travels the world at breakfast in Evora, who recommended we call Cecilia about her guest house in the country. What an exquisite B&B with a fantastic breakfast! Price was excellent for the value. Cecilia couldn't have been more helpful and sweet. Wish we could have stayed more than one night. Close to Obidos, Alcobaca, Nazare, Sitio, Batalha and Fatima on Rick's Portugal itinerary. www.casaldaeirabranca.com email@example.com +351 966629868
Allentown, PA USA Sun 06/12/2011
If you go to Salema in the Algarve, consider Casa Anica and Casa Patacas at 24 Rua dos Pescadores. We looked at the rooms which were beautiful but wanted to stay on the side of the street facing the ocean. Price was 35 euros/night and 30/night for 2 nights. There were views of the hills from some of the rooms. Owner Jose Alfonso will be happy to show you. salema-house.com firstname.lastname@example.org 966654112 GPS:N37.066896, W-8.822153
Allentown, PA USA Sun 06/12/2011
La Gardenia in Todi, Italy
This apartment, inside this walled town, and its idyllic surroundings comprised one of the top vacation experiences we have ever had. The two-floor apartment is clean, spacious, well layed-out, comfortable, artfully decorated, and very well stocked with towels, linen, and kitchen equipment and appliances. It is tucked within the ancient walls of this stunningly beautiful Umbrian hill town, with its lovely medieval and renaissance churches and temples, narrow streets, piazzas, and fantastic views. The apartment has many windows which give the rooms a light airy atmosphere, as well as a balcony that gives you a huge unobstructed view of the valley and hills beyond, as well as of the five-domed Santa Maria della Consolazione church. The owner, Carlo, was incredibly helpful and kind, picking us up at the Ponte Rio train station down the hill, and returning us there at the end of our stay. He provided us with a lot of useful information including places and directions to grocery shop, eat (many restaurants, cafes, and pizzerias), and sites to see. The sunsets were spectacular, and the swallows magical. With the exception of an excursion to Assisi one day, we were happily content enjoying the sights, sounds, walks, and tranquility of Todi and this beautiful apartment for our week stay, and cannot wait to return!
Salt Lake City, Utah USA Thu 06/09/2011
Amalfi Coast Lodging
A great place to stay is this tiny hotel in Bomerano above the town of Amalfi: Nido Verde Via Villani 17 Agerola, NA 80051 Italy Phone: 39 (081) 8791042
It has about 6 rooms all decorated and named for artists like Warhol and Dali. Good breakfast, friendly, right at the start of Sentiero Delgli Dei/Trail of the Gods-a wonderful hike above the Amalfi Coast. If you book directly thru their website you may get a better price than using booking services. Mom can also do cooking classes! Roberto, the host, speaks great English and is incredibly friendly and helpful.
Seattle, WA USA Wed 06/08/2011
We rented a very quiet apartment in the middle of crazy Naples from Toledo 205 - http://www.toledo205.it/en/index.html. We chose the apartment for the location which was great and made it easy to walk to all the major sites, and for the wonderful terrace with views of the city. The price was a great value, and the owner Fabio, was wonderful to deal with. He stopped by one day to water the flowers and plants and stayed to visit with us and share a glass of wine. We felt very safe and secure up on the 5th floor apartment. If you're planning to spend anytime in Naples to see the wonderful sites or eat the best pizza in the world, I would highly recommend Toldeo 205.
Oklahoma City, OK USA Sun 06/05/2011
rooms in Vienna
We spent three days in Vienna staying at a centrally located monastery/ catholic guest house. at the Scottish Abbey. Benediktushaus The rooms were modern, clean. roomy. The breakfast provided was more than adequate. We would not hesitate to go back , in fact I would love to stay longer next time.
Lexington, Ky USA Fri 06/03/2011
Alberga Doni flat
Rick's "Venice 2011" says to "avoid the overflow aparment" at Albergo Doni, a great litle hotel..We stayed in this flat and had a great experience. It's about a minute walk from the hotel, there admittedly are two rather steep flights of steps, but it's worth it! It's comfortable, clean, roomy, and homey. A great place to kick back after a long exploration of Venice. Give it a try!
Portland, OR USA Wed 06/01/2011
La Gardenia, Todi, Italy
This was a wonderful vacation rental. We loved being here, being able to cook, to sit on the balcony admiring the amazing view, to read and lounge around in the pleasant and cozy rooms. Carlo was a terrific host. The information in the apartment is comprehensive and very helpful, and Carlo himself was always available to help with any problems. We ran into him on the plaza one day and he took time to walk us to some places in town we had not yet explored. He speaks excellent English (as well as some French!) and was a super guide. Groceries were near the apartment, as were a number of nice restaurants. Todi itself is a marvel. We had no car but really enjoyed walking in the town and the environs. Our only caveat: Todi itself requires the ability to walk up and down fairly steep hills (which became easy after a day or two) and the apartment is reached only by a couple of flights of stairs. We will come back to Todi and La Gardenia!
Spring Valley, WI USA Sun 05/29/2011
Villa Rental in Italy
We rented Casa del Saraceno from rentvillas.com. The villa located outside of Anghiari, Tuscany, Italy easily accomodated 8 people. The location gave us wonderful views of the Tuscan hills overlooking Toppole. The kitchen was well equipped. The pool was beautiful and well maintained. The villa was very clean and comfortable and our rentvillas.com representative was quick to respond. If she could not answer our question she would contact the property manager and get back to us in a timely manner. I highly recommend the property and rentvillas.com
Fort Lauderdale, FL USA Sun 05/29/2011
Apartment Rental in Paris
My husband and I just returned from a visit to Paris. We once again rented an apartment from Holidays France Rentals. This will have been the 4th time we have rented from this company. The apartment was located near the Eiffel Tower, a great location. Several neighborhood cafe's in the area, a bakery for morning croissants. Bernard was there to meet us when we arrived. The apartment had everything we needed for our stay. Bernard arranged transport to the airport for us. The apartments are not just sterile rooms they are filled with art, books. HFR represents apartments all over Paris in all sizes. www.holidays-france-rental.com
Shoreline, WA USA Fri 05/27/2011
Just had a wonderful stay in Tuscany. We were four couples and rented a villa through rentvillas.com. Can't imagine a better way to live like a local. The villa was old, beautiful, and very comfortable. And the setting was stunning, with vistas of the Tuscan countryside from every angle. We all agreed it was a great, economincal way to spend a week.
Sammamish, WA USA Thu 05/12/2011
Paris Home 2000 apartment rental
Renting an apartment in Paris France from Sl!m, the owner of Paris Home 2000 couldn't have been easier. The apartment was PERFECT! After reading about this small company in the "Rick Steves' Paris 2011" guidebook, and after prompt and informative email responses from the owner Sl!m, I took a leap of faith and rented one of his two units for 8 nights in the City of Lights.
Slim met us upon arrival at the apt, which was clean, bright and in an excellent location in relation to everything needed to make our stay in Paris easier. The metro was a few short blocks away, the fruit and vegetable market on Rue Cler was right around the corner and several grocery stores, boulangeries and tasty cafes were within a 6 block radius of our apartment. BTW, our favorite place for "take away" to eat back at the apartment was Il Giramondo at 175 Rue Grenelle, just a few blocks to the west. (We managed to stop by there several times during our stay and were never disappointed with our meal [INVALID]ions.)
Sl!m also arranged our shuttle transport to and from the airport.....a good call on that one as they were affordable, reliable and prompt.
All in all, if I had to rate our experience with Paris Home 2000 on a scale between 1 & 10 I'd give them at least a 12. Take a leap of faith, you won't be disappointed.
Davie, FL USA Mon 04/25/2011
Apartment in Nerja
Using vrbo.com (#288923) we found a great apartment in Nerja – somewhat at the edge of town but very near the bus station and still only a 15 minute walk to the beach. La Maquinilla was a very roomy apartment with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living and dining area, and a well appointed kitchen. It also had a couple of small terraces and access to an additional rooftop terrace for the building. It was spotlessly clean and came with wifi, tv (with English channels), stereo, washing machine, even little touches like umbrellas and a wheeled cart to bring home your groceries. The owners Frans and Nuttee are the nicest people and even took us out for tapas one night. We also got a chance to see their Casa Charlotte apartments, which are a little more money but closer to the beach and equally well appointed. Thanks to our great experience we came to Nerja for one week and stayed for three.
Olympia, WA USA Tue 04/05/2011
Rome apartment VRBO
We loved this apartment in Rome. We found it on VRBO (property 19643). Adriana and Paolo are wonderful Italians who made us feel so welcome. I'd highly recommend it.
Adelaide, SA Australia Sun 04/03/2011
Ares - Paris Hotel
The Ares Hotel (7 rue du Gal de Larminat, Paris) was just lovely! The rooms were beatifully appointed, the bathrooms were luxurious, the bed and linens were comfortable and luxurious as well. The location was very convenient to the Metro, many very good cafes and restaurants, and a quick 7 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower. We cannot say enough about the staff - Mr. Casimieri, the owner, and Juliane and Isabelle gave us so many recommendations and put up with our many questions with smiles on their faces and really made us feel welcome. We arrived from the airport very early and no room was available yet, which we expected. The staff went over and above to make us feel welcome and comfortable, until a room was ready.
We are so happy that we discovered this hotel, and we shall recommend it to anyone who cares to listen to us go on and on about it! We wish we could ive it 10 stars - it truly deserved it!
Steve & Lyz DeMarco
Hollywood, Fl USA Tue 03/29/2011
Apartment rental in Florence, Hotel in Bruxelles
Do you like to stay in the heart of a city for a week? On http://www.proconsolo.altervista.org you find a lovely studio apartment in an historical medieval building in the center of Firenze. A good hotel in central Bruxelles is Hotel Matignon
Paris, France Sat 03/26/2011
I stayed 5 nights in the SiDE hotel/pension. It's clean, safe (right across the narrow street from the Four Seasons.) Right in the old section where many sights are. It's reasonable and you can choose hotel side or pension side. Pension side was all I needed.
Irvine, CA USA Tue 03/22/2011
Enjoy Venice, Stay in Murano!
Here's a "back door" tip that I'm surprised I haven't seen from Rick Steves. We stayed on Murano Island instead of turist crowded Venice. We stayed in a most wonderful B&B called Murano Palace. It was fabulous! We could get to Venice easily by the "water bus," so we picked our times to avoid the crush. We went to San Marco at night (around 9) and almost had it to ourselves and walking back to the ferry stop, many sidewalks in Venice were deserted. Truly magical! Meanwhile on Murano, we ate at a little restaurant and truly felt it was just us and the locals having dinner. The owner of Murano Palace's son has a gourmet restaurant that is supposed to be wonderful but was closed when we were there. Not to worry, we're going back this fall and hope to try it. Quick, stay in Murano before Rick Steves discovers it!
Austin, TX USA Fri 03/18/2011
Overnightings for cyclists and hikers
Hikers and cyclists pay only 19 euro for a overnighting if they're hiking or cycling the Netherlands and Belgium. In both countries, 3600 families participate with 'Vrienden op de Fiets'. You can stay at their homes (private room, shared bathroom, breakfast) and enjoy local family life. Outside the Low Countries, another 600 hosts have already joined (mainly Germany and France but also 4 in Washington and 3 in British Columbia). http://www.vriendenopdefiets.nl
Belgium Fri 02/18/2011
Sleep on the train!
A great way to save money and time is to sleep on an overnight train when you are traveling between locations. I've even done it on second-class trains. The benefits are: -You already have to pay for a train ticket anyway, but this way you get a night's lodging in the bargain. -You get more sightseeing time because you aren't spending your daytimes traveling between destinations. The train pulls into the station just a little bit after you've woken up, and you walk off and start sightseeing. Obviously this only works for longer transits, and the last time I was in Europe (2009) I noticed a lot of the former routes I had slept on (like Paris-Frankfurt) were now high-speed trains of just a few hours. But there are still places and routes where this is possible. It's also a great old-world experience, and the gentle sway of the train and the "kachink, kachink" sound are actually quite soothing. If you go 2nd class, I recommend a hostel sheet and bring your own travel pillow.
Houston, TX USA Tue 02/08/2011
Sleeping in Istanbul
We are looking for tips for inexpensive guest house/ pension type accommodations off the beaten path in Istanbul. We don't mind walking or taking the bus to the sites. Any suggestions?
Baltimore, MD USA Mon 01/24/2011
Couch surfing! I'm normally a guy that likes hotels, but my friends talked me into couch surfing in Crete. It was the best time I ever had in my whole life. It's the best way to meet locals and have them show you the best of their city. I'll never forget it!
Aledo, IL USA Sat 01/22/2011
Rental in Tuscany
We rented castle accommodations through RentVillas.com They were very helpful and great to work with. Their offices are located in California, but we did everything via the internet and email. Our accommodations were beautiful. We would use them again.
Willow Grove, PA USA Mon 01/10/2011
In your car?
This is not for everyone, but I've found that I've gotten good night's sleeps in Europe by sleeping in the back seat of my car! As long as I have a sleeping pill, my own pillow, and a sleeping bag, I was able to get 7-8 hours of sleep. I've found that European rest stop gas stations are very safe places to pull over and sleep.
Indianapolis, IN USA Wed 01/05/2011
Booked a great little house in Cortona through Rentvillas.com - Adriana1. Booking process was painless and they have great, knowledgeable staff. Cortona was great, still had that Italian hill town feel to it, not over run with tourists. Anywhere where you can stand outside the barber's shop and see locals just putting their heads round the door to say good morning is my kind of town!Cortona is well placed for day trips to Siena and Assisi, plus the Tuscan hill towns. Great train service, we rode the train to Florence, which made visiting there a painless experience.
Denver, CO USA Sun 01/02/2011