For our traveling family of five, the best accommodations on the go are vacation rentals. Several months ago, I detailed three of the most popular vacation rental websites: VRBO, Homeaway, and Airbnb. This week, you’ll be able to read reviews of my experiences with all three.
First up, VRBO. I mentioned in my previous post that VRBO is my least favorite. Since I travel with three children under six years old, I usually need to search for properties with kid-friendly amenities as well as necessities like wi-fi or extras like air conditioning or a pool. It can be hard to navigate the listings and find exactly what you are looking for. Compared to other vacation rental websites, VRBO offers a paltry few filters to pare down the options.
Price is also important, and VRBO tends to be the most expensive of the three websites. But, exceptions always exist, and I don’t recommend throwing VRBO out all together.
In fact, VRBO came out on top when I searched for a Salt Lake City rental during a very busy convention week.
According to VRBO’s security suggestion, I contacted the owner via email and phone. I asked loads of questions about everything from what shops were in walking distance, where the nearest bus stop was located, if sheets came with the pack & play, etc. The owner responded promptly to both email and phone calls.
I requested a discount since we were staying 7 nights, and the owner acquiesced. Payment via Paypal went smoothly, and we received our damage deposit back as promised (also through Paypal).
All in all, our experience using VRBO to find and reserve a holiday apartment couldn’t have gone better. VRBO has moved up to my second choice of the top three booking sites, and you can read more about why in my Airbnb review (coming Friday).
For those interested in a review of Salt Lake City VRBO property #328966 here goes!
As I mentioned above, communication with the owner was stellar. The major selling point of this condo is that Lisa concerns herself with responding quickly and even anticipates guest questions and concerns.
One week prior to check-in, Lisa emails a thirteen-page check-in packet (yes, 13 pages!!). Guests will know where to find items, how to use services, the quantity of supplies provided, and what to do if something goes wrong. I’ve never seen a more thorough welcome packet.
The pictures online accurately depict the state of the unit and the furnishings. The beds were comfortable and the the kitchen fully stocked. I was pleased to find extras such as laundry detergent, dish soap, sponges, and paper towels.
I really appreciated the baby-friendly amenities; the pack & play and highchair were both clean and in great shape.
A few things a renter might want to know before settling on this property… First, let’s talk location, a major selling point in the ad. The condo is very close to the airport (less than 10 minutes) and downtown Salt Lake City (again, under 10 minutes). Unfortunately, the area is rather urban and the surrounding buildings quite shabby.
I never felt unsafe in the neighborhood, though I will say I was glad the parking lot was gated. We walked to the kids playground several blocks away one afternoon, and I decided not to do that again. I know that honest, hardworking people live in this area. But, if I have a choice about where I wanted to spend my time on vacation, this part of Salt Lake City wouldn’t be on my list.
Second, the condo is garden level, meaning if you walked up to the building, the living room window would be where your feet stood on the ground. I felt uncomfortable leaving the blinds open during the day since everyone could (and did) look in the windows.
Third, I knew in advance the size of the condo was rather small (620 sq. ft). But, I didn’t realize how cramped the common area would feel with three kids playing. If I wasn’t spending a lot of time in the unit, the size wouldn’t be a concern. But I did, and it was.