If you travel a lot, chances are good that you’re totally sick of hotels by now. Even if you’re just staying a week or two, you crave the comforts of home. For one thing, having a little kitchen so you can stock your favorite food staples is huge. Having a separate living area to lounge in is also nice.
A great way to feel more like yourself while traveling is to find a serviced apartment. These are fully furnished units that can be rented for a short time, or even a long time if necessary. They combine the comforts of home with convenient hotel-like amenities, including housekeeping and concierge services.
Chances are that you’re on a budget for lodging during your trip, so we have found some expert tips for snagging a cheap serviced apartment wherever you go.
Stay flexible about location
It may be easiest to stay just blocks away from your work site, but it can also be a lot more expensive. You can save money by leasing a serviced apartment outside of the city center, and it needn’t be inconvenient as long as it is close to public transportation – or you have a car rented.
In fact, it can be nice to get a little bit of distance from your work site during your time off. It’s hard to stay connected to the person you are during leisure hours when you’re far away from family and friends, but it’s doubly so when you live in the shadow of your office.
Search booking sites
Even though serviced apartments are not exactly hotels, many booking services have figured out that there’s a big market for them. You can find yours on sites like Booking.com and Expedia. But, you can also find a serviced apartment on websites designed to rent regular apartments. Apartment Guide.com has a “short term available” filter, as does Apartments.com.
You can even locate your rental on Airbnb. The site will suggest certain filters to add when you plug in a longer stay. One of them is “work trip” while another is “laundry”. These keywords trigger listings that can be rented by the month.
Ask your network
It never hurts to put out a message that you’re looking for a serviced apartment. Perhaps a friend from college or someone in your professional network knows of a great place. You might even seek to join Facebook groups for neighborhoods that you’re interested in. A lot of times, people there will know about availability.
Plus, you’ll have a great sense of how to fit in and live comfortably there if you have developed a relationship with residents before showing up. When personal relationships are involved, the chances of negotiating a fantastic price are higher, too.
Check with Housing Offices
Some communities have offices that can help you locate affordable housing. Though their primary concern is in helping full time residents secure a safe home, they are also focused on building the strength of the community as a whole.
Keeping the hotels full and the serviced apartments rented is part of supporting local business owners. To that end, you might consider checking with the local chamber of commerce, as well. If you are moving to complete coursework at a university, the housing office on campus may very well have short-term housing available for students, or at least a list of off-campus rentals.
Your instinct might be to look for small serviced apartments for each person who is traveling with you, but in some cases it makes more sense to rent out a large house for everyone. Doing this means you’ll be sharing communal space, but it will feel a lot more like home.
The website Corporate Housing by Owner lists lots of big, beautiful furnished houses all over the country. You will deal directly with the property owner to book the space, and CHBO does not charge the renter a commission.
The downside to renting a house rather than an extended-stay hotel suite is that you may not have housekeeping services during your stay. These properties are also typically booked by the month, so are not ideal for trips shorter than that.
Keep it rented
If your firm does frequent business in a particular area, it could be well-served by keeping that apartment leased. Generally speaking, the longer the stay the lower the rate offered. Operators have to spend time and money to seek new renters, so they are willing to give significant discounts for organizations that are willing to sign a long-term lease.
In this same vein, you may seek to simply rent a unit that hasn’t been designated as a serviced apartment. However, it is important to make clear to the leasing agent that you will not be there full time, and that different people will stay there at different times, if that’s the case.
Some won’t go for this, or will at least want to do a background check on everyone who may stay there. The primary leaseholder will need to accept responsibility for potential damage caused by anyone. But, the benefit is that you don’t have to worry about finding a new space every time you travel to that location.
In the end, finding the best deal on a short term rental comes down to being flexible and willing to stretch the meaning of “serviced apartment.” Perhaps you save a bundle on renting a furnished apartment or house that doesn’t have housekeeping service, and pay to engage a cleaning team separately.
Just remember to stay on the right side of short term rental laws, which are changing lately in response to the booming market driven by sites like Airbnb. And if all else fails, the HR department at your job might at least have a list of potential rentals for you to explore, even if they don’t book accommodations for you directly. Good luck on your travels!