VRBO Changes The World (NYC Edition)

I’ve written before about VRBO, the website that allows you to find rental properties in faraway locations and deal directly with the owner in making arrangements.  We used it to book a terrific apartment in Paris, where Richard and I had a fabulous time staying in a residential neighborhood and enjoying the rhythms of Parisian life, away from the touristy hotel districts.

I’m happy to report that VRBO works just as well in New York City.  We used the website to arrange for a three-bedroom apartment in this fine apartment building along Riverside Drive near the Columbia University campus.  The apartment is surprisingly roomy, offers some excellent views of Riverside Park and the Hudson River, and is conveniently located near a red line subway stop and grocery store.  In short, it has all of the attributes we have come to expect from VRBO — and our rental apartment is a lot cheaper than renting hotel rooms for the four of us.

Obviously, I am a big fan of VRBO.

Merci, Josette!

The outer door to our Parisian apartment

I’ve been back from Paris for a week, and the memories of our adventures are still fresh and enjoyable to revisit.  I had a wonderful time, from beginning to end.  A lot of it was spending time with Richard, and a lot of it was just being in Paris — but a lot of it also was the great place where we stayed.  For that, I must say:  Merci, Josette!  You were a fabulous hostess, and your apartment was just perfect.

I’ve turned in my VRBO evaluation for the apartment and it is a rave review, indeed.  It won’t be posted for 7 days, because the website carefully checks to make sure that reviews are factually based and written by people who actually stayed at the location.  I’ll try to remember to link to it once it appears.  In the meantime, if you are interested in seeing more about where Richard and I stayed, it is VRBO owner listing 223723.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to go to Paris, get out of the hotel rut, and get a taste of what it is like to actually live in a Parisian neighborhood.

Edited to add:  my review of Josette’s place is now available on-line.

VRBO Changes The World (Paris Edition)

The kitchen at chez Josette

So, I’m in Paris, meeting up with Richard to spend a week with him as he moves slowly through Europe and soaks up what the continent has to offer.  Rather than spend a ridiculous sum on a hotel, and be squirreled away in some sterile tourist area of the City of Lights, Kish and I decide to try VRBO.  We end up renting an apartment in the Latin Quarter.

When I arrived today, I had some trepidation about what I would find.  Things can look good on the web, but sometimes the reality falls short.  That did not happen today, fortunately.  (Bon!)

The TV room at our apartment

Here is what I found:

*  A surprisingly spacious apartment with two well-sized bedrooms, a TV room with cable TV and a collection of hundreds of DVDs, a full kitchen with every utensil and cooking appliance known to man, a full shower and bathroom, a separate toilet room,  a washer and a dryer, a desktop computer as well as apartment-wide, free wireless, and a dining room with a table that seats six.  And, the apartment is decorated with style and stocked with fresh baguettes and chocolate rolls.

*  An incredibly helpful and accommodating hostess (merci, Josette!) who explained every appliance, computer, TV remote, and key, provided suggestions on restaurants and bistros to frequent, gave us her apartment number and cell number, and encouraged us to call if we had any problems or questions.

A look down the Rue Val de Grace

*  Windows with iron railings that open out to an iconic Paris street with a view like this.

*  A central location on Rue Val de Grace near the Luxembourg Gardens and the Pantheon, located in the heart of a student housing district in the Latin Quarter (District Five), within easy walking distance of the Ile de la Cite, the Louvre, and other sites in central Paris and (perhaps most importantly) directly across the street from a wine shop with an excellent selection and very moderate prices.

All of this, for a price that probably is about half of what we would pay for a decent hotel.  This is why VRBO is changing the world.

VRBO Changes The World

Lately we have started to use a website called VRBO whenever we are thinking of taking a vacation and want to check out the rental properties at our destination.  If you are planning a holiday, or just want to do some dreaming, take a look at the VRBO website, click on a location or two, and see what your vacation dollar could obtain.

VRBO (short for Vacation Rentals By Owner) is one of those internet ideas — like eBay or Facebook — that is changing the world.  It is a mechanism for vacation rental property owners to list their properties and for soon-to-be travellers to find rental options.  The internet, through the VRBO website, serves as their giant meeting place.  VRBO is ridiculously easy to use:  click on the maps to indicate where you want to go, click on the listings for the properties at your destination, look at the pictures, and read the comments from prior renters.  And then, if it looks good, contact the owner and reach an agreement on date and price.  No need to rely on word of mouth.  No need to look through ads in the local newspaper.  No need to try to find a realtor who can tell you about rental properties.

VRBO puts lots of information at your fingertips and then gets out of the way to allow you to make your own judgments.  It is that access to information, and then the direct access to the property owner, that is the game-changer.  If, like us, there are times when you would like to stay in a non-touristy area so that you get a better sense of what the local culture is like, VRBO allows you to do it.  If you want to see whether renting is cheaper than a hotel room, VRBO allows you to do it.

It’s become part of our standard vacation planning routine.