Wednesday, July 3, 2013

We love HomeAway!


Not only were we dying to see San Francisco as a couple, but we'd decided that some day soon we wanted to go with a HomeAway rental instead of a traditional name brand hotel. We found several places we loved in SF, but finally decided on this modern and cozy seventh-floor studio apartment in the heart of the Financial District, close to Union Square.


The HomeAway rental process is pretty simple, and a lot of times you'll end up spending less than you would for a hotel room, especially in an expensive city like SF. We have a friend who works for HomeAway {headquartered here in Austin} and she recommended that we read plenty of reviews and go with a property that has continually received travelers' praises. She reminded us that it's also important to find the property on a map to see where it is in relation to public transportation and the sights we wanted to see while we were there. We found one apartment that I fell in love with, not to mention it had been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, but it was in a more suburban neighborhood near the Presidio, far from the metro line and most of the SF "hot spots."

Since we were trying to plan the most budget-friendly trip possible, we'd already researched that the cheapest way to get from the San Francisco airport into the city would be by their BART metro ($8 a ticket as opposed to a $30+ cab/shuttle ride). Luckily, we came across this gem and were sold. Only two blocks from the Montgomery BART station, next door to The Palace Hotel, and inside of a renovated 1914 building that is a registered historical city landmark! Amenities included a full-size kitchen, living room, spacious bathroom, a queen bed, 15-foot ceilings, a flat screen television with 200+ channels, ironing board/iron, hair dryer, grey stone-washed oak hardwood floors in the living area, and Italian ceramic tile floors in the kitchen/bathroom. It had great views of the surrounding buildings, and we also had access to an 8th-floor terrace. The best part? The apartment looked even better in person than it did in HomeAway's photos!


We arrived at the San Francisco airport around 7:00 Wednesday night and then took a 30-minute metro ride to the Montgomery station. After a short walk to the apartment building, we were buzzed in by a security guard to the lobby where we received the keys to the unit. We had to use our keys to access the elevator and of course to get into the unit, so we felt very safe.

Not 15 minutes after we arrived in the apartment, the phone rang. It was the owners {who live outside of town} calling to make sure we arrived safely and that everything was to our liking. They even left us a bottle of Beringer wine {we visited the Beringer winery a few days later!} with some Ghiradelli chocolate squares. Needless to say, we were giddy at how amazing this whole HomeAway thing was working out. 


We ventured out to grab dinner at Super Duper Burgers that night {highly recommend!}, went to buy cereal, milk and fruit to eat each day for breakfast, and then returned to the studio to unpack and rest up for three full days of tourist fun.

The thing I loved most about going the vacation rental route was that we sort of felt like locals! Here are a few more photos of our little home away from home. 





Next time you plan a trip, do a little research and see if you can find the perfect rental property to make your vacation more special and unique. We didn't spend a whole lot of time at the apartment because we were there to see the sights, but it was such a FUN experience to have our own little place and be able to spread out and relax when we were there. We'll definitely be booking through HomeAway again!


The Reed's Advice for Renting:
  • Decide what your vacation priorities are. Are you looking for a hideaway, somewhere to escape to and relax? Or are you wanting a place smack-dab in the middle of everything the city has to offer? This will help you decide WHERE your rental should be. I found some rentals with amazing views of the Golden Gate bridge, or places that looked like they'd been picked out of a magazine, but after further research, the location wasn't ideal. If crossing things off your "must see" list is important to you, or your stay in a city is relatively short, don't choose a place that's hard to get to and from. 
  • Every apartment/condo/house differs in the length of time you can stay. Most will have a nightly rate that varies for weekends/weekdays or in high/low travel seasons, but you may find that a property requires you to stay for a minimum of three or four nights. This just makes your stay worth their time and investment, so if you're looking for a place to stay for only 1 night, a hotel may be your best bet after all. Many rentals will show a price per week or a price per month if you're looking for a more long-term property, and the longer you stay, you'll likely get a better deal.
  • When you go through a vacation rental, you might end up paying a higher tax rate than you would at a hotel. This is because you're essentially signing a short-term lease, taking away business that a hotel could be getting. But every state/country is different!
  • You'll likely have to put down a refundable damage deposit before reserving your dates, so just prepare to be out a couple hundred dollars until after you return from your trip. 
  • Most rentals are owned by someone who doesn't live there all the time, so they'll hire a cleaning service to come in between each guest. You'll probably pay $50-100 for a cleaning fee too {not refundable, of course}. 
  • Happy to answer any other questions you may have!

3 comments:

  1. My family and I will be in San Francisco next week and we're also doing a vacation rental. I'm excited to hear that yall had a great experience! I hope ours will be too!

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  2. I've never heard of HomeAway, how awesome!! You guys picked a super cute place. :)

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  3. Wow, you struck gold with this place! I never considered going through Home Away, but this is a really great review. I'm glad it worked out so well for you!

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