On a wintry day in Paris about two years ago, I was waiting to cross the street in St. Germain des Pres, when a group of American tourists asked me if I could help them out with directions to the Maison Kayser bakery. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I sent them on their way. Because I, too, was on holiday in Paris — my suitcases tucked away in my onefinestay home just up the street.
It was in that moment that the magic of home rentals clicked for me. Staying in a home, with your own front door key, gives you a sense of ownership in a city. It inspires you to find your way without a map. It gives you an an air of confidence and an extra pep in your step that just might convince someone you’re a local.
As a lifelong traveler, there will always be a place in my heart for boutique hotels. But I’ve come to realize that certain holidays call for everything the very best hotels can give you, while others are better suited to something a little more… soulful. When planning a getaway, here’s when to consider finding a place to call home:
If you’re planning more than just a weekend jaunt.
For a quick trip, a hotel and its services can maximize limited time. Drop your bags at the front desk, dart out for dinner, enjoy the breakfast buffet in the morning, hop into a cab and off you go! But if you’re staying three nights or more, it is much more relaxing to truly settle in.
A home — whether it’s a 17th century Roman villa or contemporary loft in Manhattan — affords you privacy, space, and independence. Rather than living out of a suitcase, fully unpack and take advantage of empty drawers and closet space. Use your own kitchen and enjoy the freedom to make something as simple as a cup of tea or as satisfying as a from-scratch dinner.
… certain holidays call for everything the very best hotels can give you, while others are better suited to something a little more… soulful.
When you want to blend in.
We’ve all done it — worn Breton stripes and flats to feel Parisian, dropped everything for afternoon tea in London, or dressed with a little more glitz and glamour while in Los Angeles. It’s fun to make believe you’re part of the fabric of a city. Stepping up to a hotel shatters that illusion.
Instead, meander down a cobblestone street and right up to your own Notting Hill townhouse. Or, bike from the cold-pressed juicery to your bungalow on the Venice Beach canals. As with my experience in Paris, having the key to your own front door gives you the confidence to walk down the street like you know where you’re going (you will, after 24 hours), and strike up a conversation with the corner grocer.
When you’re traveling in a herd.
If you’re traveling alone or as a couple, a hotel can sometimes be magical. Treat yourself to the $40 breakfast, leave the bed-making to the maid, and never lift a finger. But for a larger group — whether it’s two couples on vacation together or a girls’ trip — a home provides the wonderful combination of private rooms and social spaces.
In my experience, socializing in a hotel room always entails one person sitting in the only chair while three more people perch awkwardly on corners of the bed. In a home, you can hang out in the living room or kitchen, cozily cook breakfast together, and share a nightcap and a card game.
When you want to enjoy all the deliciousness of a city — not just its restaurants.
Dining out is a wonderful part of travel, but there’s so much more to a city’s food scene — from bustling bazaars and outdoor markets to regional produce, artisanal breads and obscure cheeses. It is such a shame to wander through these markets in awe of the bright colors and wafting scents only to realize you have nothing to do with a bunch of parsnips or a block of Gruyére in your hotel room! A home comes with a full kitchen for chopping up fresh fruit, heating a berry pie, or arranging your own charcuterie tray. Plus, you can bring local wine home from the bodega (and skip the restaurant upcharge).
When you want to treat more than just yourself.
Away for a wedding, graduation, or reunion? There’s nothing like having friends and family over to your own home away from home. I feel a wonderful rush of pride and excitement opening a front door for guests, and watching them step into “my” West Village townhouse with 12ft ceilings. And the same goes for hosting clients or business meetings — a living room is so much more conducive to forging real connections than a hotel lobby.
When you’ve got littles in tow.
As all parents know, vacations with kids are a different brand of relaxing. Staying in a home takes away much of the typical stress of family travel. Loud hotel guests, constant eating out, and an enforced “family bedtime” at 7:30 p.m. are a thing of the past. Instead, parents are free to leave sleeping children upstairs and curl up in the living room with a glass of wine. And with a full kitchen, every meal is up to you — from French Press coffee on demand for the grown-ups to late-night PB&J’s for the kids.
From LA to Rome, check out all of onefinestay’s rentals HERE to get planning your next getaway.
Images via onefinestay