When you search for places to stay in Rome, Paris, or wherever your desired travel plans take you, a slew of choices appear: from hotels, hostels, convents (believe it or not), apartments, B&B’s, free couches, and of course, vacation rentals. Surely, personal preferences will rule out many options quickly, but the choices can be overwhelming, What begins as an eager attempt to plan a fun vacation, can quickly become a daunting and tiresome task- making your eyes blur and your head ache. Talk about information overload! Going with the safe choice for fear of exploring new options can make you miss out on a magical experience. I’m happy to share with you my first experience in a vacation rental and how I saw my future vacation choices changed forever.
Before I became a member of the Commendable Rentals Team, my introduction into the world of vacation rentals came when planning my first trip to Rome. Beginning with my usual routine to search for a place to stay, something caught my eye as I scrolled the pages for Rome lodging. Renting an apartment instead of a hotel both intrigued and inspired me. I had always wanted to stay in a foreign country as more than just a tourist in a hotel. I wanted to embrace the culture of the Eternal City, not just seeing the sights, but living the culture, like a local. I wanted to hear the locals speaking (ah, lovely Italian!) and interacting in their daily lives, not only through commercial transactions. The idea that I could rent a house or apartment from a local and pretend it was my home was immensely appealing. And actually, it did become my home- at least for the extent of my stay, and always in my fond memories.
The beauty of staying in a vacation rental is that it already has the feel of home. Here at Commendable Rentals, we pride ourselves on selecting homes with character, just like the one I rented. From the unique decorative details to the charming authenticity of the buildings, each special vacation home brings the comfort and familiarity of « home » while resonating the local vibe of each destination. For those historically-inclined, especially in Rome, you can often discover interesting stories about the history of the residence. A building’s architecture can be aesthetically pleasing, but the architect, design, and background of a home (and its owners) might bring new life to your stay. Like in a good story, immersing yourself in the setting and gaining a sense of living the adventure elevates the experience.
A unique memory I acquired while staying in a vacation home can be attributed the full kitchen. While I did my fair share of eating out, I loved browsing the local Roman fruit and vegetable markets. The large Testaccio Market (where our partnered Expert Roman Food Guide takes her market tours) has such an expanse of regional delectables, I couldn’t resist buying fresh market items to bring home. Even something so simple as washing a snack of fresh tomatoes (so delicious in Rome. Pairing them with the fresh mozzarella, even better!) or creating Italian-inspired meals, the convenience of the kitchen’s refrigerator, appliances, dishes, and real utensils made me feel like I was in my own kitchen.
I was also able to learn something new in my vacation rental kitchen that gave me the feeling of being Italian, and very proud of myself! When I wasn’t indulging in a coffee break and people-watching at the quaint sidewalk cafes, I was able to privately experiment with different freshly ground coffee beans that I picked up from an Italian specialty store. I attempted making « perfect » cup of espresso using an Italian coffee percolator stocked in the home. As I had been told, though the process is simple enough, the grounds, packing, timing, and pour all contribute to a good espresso. Coffee aficionados or those that frequent Europe may not see this as a novel experience, but it was something that this budding traveler appreciated doing in coffee-cultured Italy. Among memories of the Colosseum, the vast halls of art at the Vatican museum, the rustic cobblestoned alleys, I still remember quietly enjoying the espresso I poured fresh from the percolator into the cutest blue espresso cup, and sipping it on my balcony overlooking the Roman streets.
Whether a short or long term stay, a vacation rental can offer originality to your vacation that other places cannot. I loved the apprehension and courage greeting Italian neighbours in the elevators with ‘Buongiorno’, and learning informal ways to say good evening. I was able to learn where people buy their newspapers, what they buy at the grocery store, and how they throw their trash (Rome has quite an emphasis on recycling); the things that seem insignificant but are part of the local culture someone would not experience in a place that caters to tourist traditions.
The vacation rental experience is not for everyone, however, it should be a consideration for anyone. For travelers like me looking to experience something beyond a typical hotel stay, the vacation rental option provided an extra layer of intrigue to my travels. On top of that, for someone that is just curious about how people in different places live, this also gave me a chance to peek inside the world of a local’s life…and for that short while, I lived that life, and loved it.