On a couple of trips outside the US this year, instead of staying in a hotel I’ve had the pleasure of instead renting an apartment for the week. In Paris, we stayed in a wonderful place in the Marais, and in Cernobbio, Italy I found a wonderful garden apartment complete with its own garden facing onto Lake Como.
Many people prefer not to give up the joys of not making your own bed, enjoying room service, and a concierge to meet your every need. But if you also like to shop at local markets, then a weekly rental can be a great solution. In Paris, the market was right outside our building, and we enjoyed not only cooking for ourselves but also for friends and family who were also in town. A few tough moments trying to learn how to operate the cooktop (instructions available only in French!) but eventually we figured it out. Plus, our apartment faced on the other side onto the courtyard of a church, which was lush with blossoming trees in the early spring and gave us the added bonus of the gentle wake up call of the church bells in the morning.
In Cernobbio, the apartment was my choice over a hotel for a different reason – due to my procrastination, the hotel where friends were staying to celebrate a milestone birthday was completely booked! After a fair amount of web searching, including the use of Google Maps and Google Earth, I found a lovely building next door (5 minute walk!) that faced onto the lake, for less than $200 per night. Plus, it offered a kitchen – a good solution to trying to eat healthy that week as part of a cleanse program–, its own pool, an herb garden (fresh basil and tomatoes a huge bonus), and a private terrace garden. The local grocer was across the street and the weekly market was a short stroll away in town. Thus, it was easy to make a home away from home for the week.
The other reason to stay in an apartment is that it can be much cheaper in Europe, especially if you are traveling as a family or group requiring more than one room. My place in Cernobbio came with its own private parking place, and renting a car was in fact cheaper than taking taxis or hiring cars to travel around the region. Well worth it – and I do miss my private garden!