A few weeks ago my husband and I took a trip to Paris for the Mondial du Tatouage (any excuse is good to spend a weekend in Paris, and the tattoo convention turned out to be tons of fun). We wanted to stay close to the event center where the convention was being held, but when looking at hotels within our budget, things weren’t looking great.
Hotels in Paris, like many places in Italy, can be small and with few amenities, so I knew that looking at 3 and even 2 star hotels meant dubious quality. In Florence the advantage to staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast over a vacation rental is that 99% of the time a small breakfast is included. Having stayed in Paris before, I knew that this wasn’t the case there. On our last trip we ended up spending €9.00 for a bread and jam breakfast at the hotel before realizing we were better off grabbing a crepe or croissant on the street.
I suggested that we try Airbnb, since at least we could make ourselves coffee in the morning, and be able to see some pictures of the place before choosing (you should be aware that hotels in Europe often promenently display their nicest and biggest rooms, but the size and quality of each room can vary greatly).
This was my first experience with airbnb, and with any vacation rental outside of Florence, so I was a bit nervous. After we chose a place along the Canal in the La Villette area of Paris, we became even more nervous when our host had to cancel. Unsure about the status of the payment, I called customer service and recieved great friendly help, complete with a follow up email. Because our host had cancelled, we also recieved a free credit to our account! We went ahead and chose a slightly more expensive apartment, making sure it already had plenty of great reviews, and everything went smoothly from there.
Our host, Cedric, kept in touch in the days before our arrival even though he was on vacation in Sri Lanka (lucky him), and arranged for friends to be there for our check-in and check-out. The process went smoothly even though our plane arrived late in the evening, partly because I was able to access all our reservation information and message history with the airbnb iPhone app. Lots of information was even available offline, which is useful when traveling.
Photos by Airbnb – Source
The apartment was true to the pictures, very clean and nicely decorated, and had everything we needed. The location was perfect for us because it was around the corner from the convention, but it was also well-connected to the metro for getting to other areas of Paris.
Aside from being more affordable, spacious, and private, the difference with staying in an Airbnb apartment instead of a hotel is that it really does give you that feeling of home while on vacation . Instead of saying things like “Lets go back to the hotel and get ready for dinner” We would actually say “Let’s go home and get changed before dinner.” Personally I like the hotel experience with fresh towels and tiny soaps, but in Europe where the standards can be unpredictable, a vacation-rental apartment is really the way to go. No tiny closet of a room, no contruction in the hallway, no leaving your key at the desk or waiting for the night staff to ring you in when you come back late – it was actually like having our own apartment in Paris (which, lets face it, I could get used to!)
Photos by Airbnb – Source
I was very happy with our first Airbnb experience and I will definitely use them again for vacations in the future.
If When I go back to Paris I hope this same apartment is available, because I know I’ll feel right at home!