Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tips for short term accommodation (Paris)

So I touched down in Paris on Monday where I am now for the next 6 weeks. I’ve had to sort and pay for my accommodation whilst I’m here so had to spend a lot of last minute time from my Sao Paulo hotel sorting out where to stay. I spent about 8 hours sifting through all the various sites and sources, so thought these would be worth sharing for anyone needing to do the same, or in fact if anyone wanted to spend a holiday, not in the usual hotel nonsense.

Overall, there are a lot of options these days on the net: -

1.    Short term flat rentals.
2.    Cheap and reliable hotels (part of a chain)
3.    Rooms in someone’s flat

1. Short Term Rentals

A lot of sites aggregated listings from professional rentals. The overall problem though was the cost, with the majority of central flats starting at approx. 2500 euros per month. Way outside my budget. I tried out all of these, to varying degrees of success.

They were either too expensive, or didn’t have anything in my location. Then I stumbled upon this gem:

Loved this site. Lots of pictures, easy to search, location was easy to select, language and currency drop down boxes, ability to login via Facebook. A brilliant site and I found everything I wanted. I made the payment through the system on Sunday, got an instant reply and confirmation from the landlord, and less than 24 hours later I picked up the keys to this sweet little place, that’s only 12 minutes walk down the hill to the office. The apartment is clean, tidy, got everything I need, including an exercise bike and state of the art ccoker / gadget heaven, and costs only £48 per night. I’ve booked it for 32 days.   

A great site and result when you’re next thinking about holiday places to stay, work, etc. And it seems it’s not just a European thing. Today a very smart ex Cake colleague Rosie Siman posted up her NYC flat for people to stay in when she’s go on vacation for a week or so. So it works on both sides of the pond. If you’re going to NYC check out her place to stay here, and if you fancy following her for any social media magic, her tweets are great source of insights. Just say yes.

2.    Cheap and reliable hotels (part of a chain)

These are the best that I came across, and the pro’s and con’s of each

These were the cheapest, and during the week rooms were approximately 50 euros per night. At the weekend they came down to about 30 euros. They are all over the place, but seem to have the majority in Paris. I’ve stayed at one before, and for the money, it was fine. The bathrooms are an all in one construction – something you might see in a prison, on board a ferry, or similar. Problem is that because they’re so cheap, they get booked up by coach tours (mainly school trips) and when I tried to find something, they had nothing near to me. Maybe if I was travelling somewhere else on my money, then I’d think about it, but in this instance, pas pour moi.

Good and reliable. Approximately 100 euros per night.  About 60 euros at the weekend. They’re all over the place. Rooms are fine, breakfast (continental is fine).  I’ve stayed at these a few times, and most times they’ve been ok. Only once did they balls up – I’d confirmed and paid online (through latebookings.com) but when I got to hotel, they couldn’t honor the booking since there system had crashed and they were full. I’d stay at one of these again, but not on these prices, for this length of time I required.

Of the cheap hotel chains this was probably the best.  Prices ranged during the week from approximately 80 euros to 110 euros per night. They’ve good selection of locations, and the restaurant is fairly decent in most of them. Through Expedia and laterooms.com I was looking at a week’s stay for about 400 euros.

3. Rooms in someone’s flat

Always the most hit or miss option, and the most important thing when looking at them was to take time to read all the reviews.  Location, price and amenities were important and most of the sites below allowed me to change the search criteria.  In the end I didn’t go with any of them, but that was due to not getting a response back in time. These were the key ones available:-

Oudormir.com (inc www.wheretosleep.co.uk if u want to read in English)

Originally a Belgium company that now gathers rooms available across the globe. Easy to use site. Not only can you rent just a room, but also a flat or house. I found this site best for finding a room in someone’s house, rather than actual flats. Prices were very good, starting at approximately 30 euros per night, and averaging more like 70 euro’s per night. I did book somewhere I found, but then the landlord had 24 hours to accept my reservation. She didn't and so I got nervous since the clock was ticking, and in the end cancelled it. They didn’t charge me anything, but they should show people who are ‘online now’ that way, it could be more instant, and the deal would have gone through.

I was quite surprised as to how many were available on the French version of the site. Limitation was that you can’t really search by location / district in Paris, so you need to know what the names are and scan them in the posts. All posts are historical, but the thing is that a post may well still be up there, as you look at older dates, even though it might not be available anymore. It seemed best for students / flat shares, rather than short term (ie a few days+). Craigs list isn’t a very inspiring site to look at, and after a while I gave up on this one.

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