I’m a HomeAway junkie, I’ll own it. Whenever we decide to make a trip, HomeAway is my first stop to find accommodation. We’re usually traveling with at least three children, and like any parents we like a little bit of privacy.
Two weeks in single hotel rooms with two double beds and a roll-away is a recipe for disaster. Also death threats. Possibly sanitarium time. Definitely a need for a vacation-from-the-vacation.
That’s where my obsession with HomeAway comes in.
We’ve had a lot of different HomeAway experiences – there was the one in Paris in December when we had to spend one night without heat because no one in Paris will fix anything after 5 pm – it also required climbing five flights of steep, winding stairs. Then there was the one in Athens where the newly remodeled apartment had the most interesting tables we’d ever seen – with butts molded into the seats. And Prague – where about $120 a night got us a three bedroom, recently remodeled penthouse.
We haven’t ignored hotels – we used the Embassy Suites in Waikiki, Splendom Suites in Madrid, and Protea Balalaika in Johannesburg, not to mention our favorite hotel EVER, The Theater Hotel in Brussels – but in general finding hotels with a separate bedroom and living area can get ridiculously expensive and in many places they just aren’t available. Renting a flat or a small house is often more economical, more comfortable, and usually includes a kitchen and washing machine. It’s surprising how much difference a washing machine makes!
The calculation isn’t as easy as just comparing the nightly rates, though. For instance – we’re looking for a place to stay over a weekend in Palm Springs, California this summer. At first glance it seemed we were looking at Prague-levels of value for the dollar in the HomeAway market. For instance, this OMGPOOL!!! for rent for $119 a night. At that price I don’t care how many hotel loyalty points I’m losing – I’ve got a fully equipped bungalow. And POOL. POOL!
Well, the nightly price is far from the whole story. First you need to add in the extra cleaning fee ($165 – because we plan to rent in order to create a Hoarders life-size diorama?). Don’t forget a nightly utility fee – set so high presumably because we plan to plug in and power the entire city each evening ($45 per night). If I EVER totaled up $45 a night in utilities in a two bedroom house I’d submit to arrest by the Idiot Prevention Bureau. There’s also a damage waiver ($69). And then you must add in the nightly occupancy tax (11.5% of total price).
When you add it all together, $119 per night suddenly becomes $270 a night. And with hotel suites at resorts running $135 per night (after the occupancy tax), the calculation suddenly tilts in another direction.
We went with a resort suite that has a small kitchen. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Plus, you know. It has a pool. But does it have a BABY DONKEY?
I think not. We can’t always have everything, though.