Vacation Rentals: How to Rent City Apartments

A London apartment rental at Beresford Terrace 2 offered by onefinestay. onefinestay
By Lisa Cheng

Save money, get more space, and live like a local by renting an apartment in a big city. From a design loft in Rio to a pied-à-terre in Paris, book any of these fabulous apartments for a chic but affordable urban getaway.

Photo Caption: A London apartment rental at Beresford Terrace 2 offered by onefinestay
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A London apartment rental at Beresford Terrace 2 offered by onefinestay. onefinestay
Rental Tips: Metropolitan Police Service's Detective Chief Inspector Nick Downing notes that the spike in incoming visitors for recent events (including the Olympics) increases the chances for the not-so-scrupulous to sell non-existing accommodations or to swipe personal information. He advises booking directly with reputable travel companies that are members of associations such as ABTA, the Travel Association, or Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL). If booking independently, establish if you're dealing directly with the property owner or letting agent; ask questions about the property in detail. Does the information correspond to the findings of your own research?
Our Pick: Beresford Terrace 2
Where: London
Rental Company: onefinestay
Minimum Night Stay: None
How Much: From $94 per person per night during low season ($368 per night based on four people)
Why We Love It: You'll get the best of both town and country in this two-bedroom abode, about 30 minutes from Oxford Circus (Beresford Terrace is an up-and-coming neighborhood with a vibrant arts scene). The property has all the trappings of a rustic English cottage (original fireplace, claw-foot tubs, antiques) but also all the modern amenities you want. The kitchen even opens up into a fruit and flower garden.
Compare To: A nearby hotel costs $264 per night for two people.
Other Companies to Consider: Viveunique.com/Farnum & Christ (http://farnum-christ.com/), Absolute Accommodations (http://absoluteaccommodations.com). The London tourist office also keeps a list of homestays.

Photo Caption: A London apartment rental at Beresford Terrace 2 offered by onefinestay
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A two-bedroom apartment near the Pompidou Center in Paris for rent by Jetsetter. Jetsetter.com
Rental Tips: The Latin Quarter, St.-Germain-des-Prés, or the Marais is where you'll want to be, but the central location comes with a premium. Try the residential but lively neighborhoods of Canal St.-Martin, Oberkampf, or Les Abbesses for more affordable finds that are still close enough to the action.
Our Pick: Pompidou Center Gem
Where: Paris
Rental Company: Jetsetter.com
Minimum Night Stay: None
How Much: From $97 per person (or $391 total based on four people for one night)
Why We Love It: Take advantage of the convenient location next to the Centre Pompidou and the Marais. Enjoy the right blend of minimalist modern and historic touches (exposed wooden beams, stone floors, graffiti paintings). Cook like a local in the stainless steel kitchen.
Compare To: A nearby hotel costs $400 for two people.
Other Companies to Consider: Feels Like Home in Paris (http://feelslikehomeinparis.com), Apartmentparis.fr, VingtParis.com

Photo Caption: A two-bedroom apartment near the Pompidou Center in Paris for rent by Jetsetter.
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This East Village Suite for rent in Manhattan has a roof top view. HomeAway, Inc.
Rental Tips: After the state banned room rentals of less than 30 days, hundreds of residential buildings have been issued violations since the law went into effect in 2011. Though enforcement hasn't curbed the number of listings on sites such as Airbnb.com and HomeAway.com, would-be renters should be aware that surveillance is conducted after complaints to 311, NYC's non-emergency line. Though the penalty for illegal rentals falls on the housing owner (and in most cases doesn't result in the ejection of the renter), plan to keep a low profile and be quiet and respectful to avoid any neighbor scrutiny.
Our Pick: Beautiful Suite in the Heart of East Village
Where: New York City
Rental Company: VacationRentals.com
Minimum Night Stay: One night
How Much: $54 per person per night (or $219 total based on quadruple occupancy)
Why We Love It: This bright one-bedroom in the East Village makes a comfortable pied-à-terre, with brick walls, hardwood floors, and an impressively elaborate entertainment system. You're steps from restaurants and bars.
Compare To: A nearby hotel costs $289 per night for two people.
Other Companies to Consider: CitySonnet.com, Roomorama.com, ManhattanGetaways.com, New York Habitat (www.nyhabitat.com), Sublet in the City (www.subletinthecity.com)

Photo Caption: This East Village Suite for rent in Manhattan has a rooftop view.
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A 1-bedroom loft in downtown Los Angeles for rent by Airbnb. Airbnb
Rental Tips: Prime picks are beachfront districts like Venice or Santa Monica (though the rates will correspond to these areas' desirability). Malibu is all beachy and laid-back, but elevated housing prices mean that a more reasonably priced rental could be lining the highway.
Our Pick: Downtown Historic One-Bedroom Loft
Where: Los Angeles
Rental Company: Airbnb
Minimum Night Stay: Two nights
How Much: From $35 per person per night (or $985 total based on four people for 7 nights)
Why We Love It: A corner unit with wraparound views, this post-war charmer has exposed bricks walls, stainless steel appliances and comfortable leather chairs for curling up in. On the rooftop, a pool and hot tub are at your disposal. The flat is within walking distance of restaurants, cafés, and nightlife.
Compare To: A hotel in downtown L.A. costs about $225 for two people.
Other Companies to Consider: Cloud Pads (http://launchpads.co), Losangeleszenretreats.com, VacationRentals.com, Roomorama.com, HomeAway.com

Photo Caption: A one-bedroom loft in downtown Los Angeles for rent by Airbnb
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For rent by Flipkey, this two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco has a gourmet kitchen and ocean views. Flipkey
Rental Tips: To address the growing trend of short-term rentals, the city of San Francisco is working on new legislation that would update a 30-year-old (and largely ignored) ban on rentals under 30 days. Until then, smart travelers still seek out apartment rentals. Popular areas include Pacific Heights and North Beach. For a break on your budget, try the residential Richmond Hill, close to Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach.
Our Pick: Two-bedroom oceanview gem
Where: San Francisco
Rental Company: FlipKey
Minimum Night Stay: None
How Much: From $46 per person (or $229 total based on five people for one night)
Why We Love It: It has an oceanview deck (with a BBQ grill), a chef-ready kitchen, and kid-friendly amenities like strollers, high chairs, cribs, and toys. There's easy access to public transportation, and the beach is a five-minute walk away.
Compare To: A stylish boutique hotel less than 4 miles away goes for $239 per night for two people (or $120 per person).
Other Companies to Consider: Chauvetvacationrentals.com, GoldenGateVacations.com, VacationRentals.com, Roomorama.com

Photo Caption: For rent by FlipKey, this two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco has a gourmet kitchen and ocean views.
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A three bedroom apartment for rent by Spain Select in Madrid, Spain. Spain Select
Rental Tips: Located in the heart of the city, within walking distance to major tourist attractions, Cortes, Austrias, and Sol draw the largest number of visitors, says Caroline Rees of Spain Select. On the southern outskirts, Lavapiés and Atocha represent the most affordable. "We encourage clients to visit those areas where locals spend their time-- Salamanca, Chameberi, and Justicia," Rees adds. "This is where you get the real feel of the city."
Our Pick: Callo Mayor 4
Where: Madrid
Rental Company: Spain Select
Minimum Night Stay: None
How Much: From $37 per person per night (or $221 total based on six people for one night)
Why We Love It: Its location in bustling Centro puts you right near stylish shops and authentic taverns. The living room, open and spacious, has a Spanish balcony ideal for aperitifs and tapas.
Compare To: A nearby hotel costs $166 for two people.
Other Companies to Consider: Casamadrid.com, Chic-rentals.com, Lovingapartments.com

Photo Caption: A three-bedroom apartment for rent by Spain Select in Madrid, Spain.
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Apartment for rent in the hip Rome neighborhood of Trastevere, from HomeAway.com HomeAway.com
Rental Tips: Start booking in December or January for the summer, and February and March for the equally popular months of September and October, says Pat Byrne from Italy Perfect. Expect a city tax of ¬2 per person per day to be factored into the bill. The best neighborhoods for bargains are Trastevere, Testaccio, Piazza del Popolo, and Prati.
Our Pick: Enchanting Property in Trastevere
Where: Rome
Rental Company: HomeAway.com
Minimum Night Stay: Three nights
How Much: From $32 per person per night (or $1,170 total based on five people for 7 nights)
Why We Love It: Tucked into a maze of narrow streets near Santa Maria Basiclia, this two-bedroom, located in a Renaissance-inspired building, has airy rooms with views of Piazza San Cosimato. You won't hear any of the area's café din and buzzing nightlife, since the apartment is perched on a high-level floor.
Compare To: A nearby hotel costs $130 for two people (or $65 per person)
Other Companies to Consider: Doorways (www.villavacations.com), Roman Reference (www.romanreference.com), Local Nomad (www.localnomad-rome.com), Italy Perfect (www.italyperfect.com

Photo Caption: An apartment for rent in the hip Rome neighborhood of Trastevere, from HomeAway.com
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A central one-bedroom apartment in Berlin for rent by Airbnb. Airbnb
Rental Tips: Many of the apartments in Berlin are rented by regular people (in other words, non-professionals) who don't factor in seasonality, says Anna Friedrich from 9flats.com. "Therefore you can find good bargains year-round." Otherwise, your best bet for wallet-friendly rentals will be "comfortably far from the city center but within walking distance of a subway station. Subways are an underrated mode of transport for tourists."
Our Pick: Central one-bedroom apartment
Where: Berlin
Rental Company: Airbnb
Minimum Night Stay: Two nights
How Much: $33 per person (or $929 total based on four people for 7 nights)
Why We Love It: Here's an upscale apartment that's modern and smartly furnished with floor- to ceiling- windows, a glass elevator and views of Potsdamer Platz.
Compare To: A standard room in luxury hotel off of Potsdamer Platz costs $210 for two people (or $105 per person).
Other Companies to Consider: WaytoStay.com, 9flats.com, HomeAway.com, Roomorama.com, Flipkey.com

Photo Caption: A central one-bedroom apartment in Berlin for rent by Airbnb
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For rent by Flipkey, this loft apartment in Rio de Janeiro has fantastic views. Flipkey
Rental Tips: Because of a growing demand here for short-term accommodations (think the upcoming World Cup and Olympics), vacation rentals have become a more relevant topic than ever before. Still a relatively new concept, only a handful of agencies have started gaining ground in Rio. Parker Stanberry of the luxury Oasis Collections agency advises sticking to the beach -- Ipanema, Copacabana, and Leblon -- or the hilltop bohemian neighborhood, St. Teresa, a 15- to 20-minute drive from the ocean. During Carnival (Feb. 2013), expect triple the price and a minimum stay of 7 to 10 nights.
Our Pick: Ipanema design loft with fantastic view
Where: Rio de Janeiro
Rental Company: FlipKey
Minimum Night Stay: Four nights
How Much: From $46 per person (or $748 total based on four people for four nights)
Why We Love It: It's a design loft flooded with natural light. Enjoy round-the-clock security, and a location about four blocks from Ipanema.
Compare To: A beachfront hotel nearby costs $358 for two people.
Other Companies to Consider: Oasis Collections (www.oasiscollections.com), Apartmentsholiday.com, Localnomad-rio.com

Photo Caption: For rent by Flipkey, this loft apartment in Rio de Janeiro has fantastic views.
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An apartment for rent in Bangkok from Roomorama. Roomorama
Rental Tips: Though areas catering to locals -- such as Ramkhamhaeng, Lat Prao and Bang Na -- offer more budget-friendly apartments and a more authentic experience, you'll need to shell out more money for cab fare since they're not easily accessible by metro or sky train (or you'll have to tackle the slightly more complicated bus system).
Our Pick: Two-bedroom executive suite
Where: Bangkok
Rental Company: Roomorama
Minimum Night Stay: None
How Much: $75 per person per night (or $300 total based on four people)
Why We Love It: This two-bedroom executive suite has all the right touches: high ceilings, a wide-screen TV, and a dining room with a candelabra and chandeliers. A gym and a pool are on the premises, as well as a washer and dryer, which comes in handy in such a hot and humid destination. Situated right on Soi Langsuan (Bangkok's equivalent of Fifth Avenue), the apartment is also near high-end shopping malls, like Central World and Siam Paragon.
Compare To: A hotel of equal caliber costs $187 per night for two people.
Other Companies to Consider: Rentalo.com, VRBO.com, PerfectPlaces.com, Flipkey.com

Photo Caption: An apartment for rent in Bangkok from Roomorama
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