Want to feel more at home on your end-of-summer getaway? Forgo the slivers of guest soap and minibar-sized Toblerone of hotel stays and rent an apartment instead. More space often at less cost is a big draw for those traveling with families or who have to mix a little business with pleasure. Deals (and steals) like a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in New York City's Tribeca for $1,500 per week, compared with suites at $500 per night, are rules, not exceptions. A one-bedroom resort apartment with a swimming pool in Marina del Ray, Calif., rents for $136 per night, compared with the Ritz-Carlton ($229 per night) or Marriott ($200 per night), both located across the street.
"A lot of our guests started out as business clients and came back with their families on vacation because an apartment gives them more flexibility and room. And it's more affordable," says Robert Philips, spokesperson for Oakwood Worldwide, which is rolling out wireless Internet service at all of its U.S. properties.
Many apartments include or offer services for an additional fee, from parking and maid service to private chefs and business centers (in case you can't get away entirely). Lee Carter, founder and editor in chief of online fashion magazine Hintmag.com, chose an apartment when covering the Paris couture shows so he could interview designers in a more personal setting. Feeling like a local was just another of many pluses.
"No more stuffy hotel rooms, strangers in the hallways, or congested lobbies," says Carter. "I imagine the personal touches are even more enjoyable on vacation."
www.barclayweb.com; 800-845-6636: Represents more than 6,000 serviced properties in 16 European countries. In the off-season, rates can be as low as $750 per week for two people.
www.countrymanors.com: Represents 4,000 properties across Europe, including apartments in London, Milan, Paris, and Rome. Properties range from studios for $240 per week to eight-bedroom deluxe villas for $8,000 per week.
www.oakwood.com; 800-888-0808: Largest temporary housing provider worldwide, with access to 400,000 apartments in major cities around the globe (minimum stays are required).
www.vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals By Owner): Properties are handled by the individual owner, whose contact information is provided.