What I’ve Learned Renting Places to Stay

I struggled to come up with a title for this post… Mainly because there are unrelated lessons learned here. Hopefully, some of this information will help someone somewhere as you plan a trip. I am a little over renting flats/apartments right now and I’ll explain why.

Just like hotels, renting a place to stay (usually a home) from an individual has hidden fees. I just booked a condo for my stay in Bass Lake, CA for the Yosemite Half Marathon in October. I found a 2-bedroom condo listed for $150/night. Sounds like a great deal, right? Well, it really ended up a little over $300/night because I got hit with:

  1. $125 cleaning fee
  2. $60 linen package
  3. $75 processing fee
  4. $60 in taxes and service fee

I can live with some extra fees, but when it ends up doubling the price and then they tell you to bring your own paper towels, it’s not cool. I think this is the worst I’ve run into. Usually, the fees aren’t so many or so much, and seem relatively reasonable. I guess the plus is we have 2 bedrooms and a kitchen. It feel like that was a con, though, and I’m really not too pleased. Lesson learned – Try to get the details before you book instead of doing what I did, which was clicking on the “book it” button first.

We recently went to Hong Kong. We rented a 3-bedroom flat not too far from the Causeway Bay subway station. The flat was big – a rarity in Hong Kong. However, the flat didn’t have a washer/dryer. If you are planning to stay somewhere for over a week, you probably want a washer/dryer for towels and clothes. Make sure you read all the details… I asked before we left so we knew there was no washer. We planned for clothing properly. However, towels can get a bit funky… And, no way to wash those. 😦 I got a recommendation for a laundromat, but who wants to spend a couple of hours of vacation time doing laundry? If I’d been smarter, I would have searched for a drop-off laundry service in advance. So, first lesson learned on this trip – make sure you have a laundry plan.

On this trip, our flat was definitely as-pictured. However, I add a couple of words of caution here. Most of these pictures (not just on this trip) were taken when they first started renting or they just did some renovations, so there is usually some wear and tear. In our case, due to the heat and humidity Hong Kong has to offer, cracked paint and the like. Didn’t make a difference to us per se, but it could make a difference to some.

There was only one picture of this rental from the street. And, now I know that it was taken somewhat down the street looking back at the entrance, which is obscured by cars. That doesn’t sound like such a big deal, right? Well………. The entrance to this building was in a little alleyway that was constantly filled with rubbish. And, there were odd mattresses stacked up near the door of our flat. Wonder why they didn’t share those pictures. I think they belonged to the convalescent home across the hall. But, that didn’t take the disappointment away from the trashy entrances and exits we got to make every day. Second lesson learned – Look for places that have clear pictures of the entrances. That may not always be easy, but I think it would make your stay better.

Since I am ending this ramble about my Hong Kong trip, I’ll share my moment of zen:


Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island

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