Growing up in a family that favored apartment rentals and timeshares, I’ve long realized the benefits of non-hotel accommodation while traveling. Having a kitchen, a washing machine, an area to lounge and relax saves money, time, sanity.
However, it’s not always cost-efficient as a solo traveler. I often stay in hostel dorms to avoid the dreaded single supplement that plagues apartments ideally set up for a couple or family.
On my last stay to Paris, though, I would be visiting with Nevin, a good friend from London, and her boyfriend Dan. For fear of being relegated to a pricey single room while they shared a double, I suggested renting an apartment. We decided on the Marais Classic we found on Roomorama, located in the Third Arrondissement.
Having a kitchen: I’m obsessed with the yogurt and cheese aisle in French supermarkets: the variety is overwhelming and prices are so affordable. It was brilliant to have a refrigerator to store juice and yogurt, a healthy supplement to our morning café stop for a coffee and pain au chocolat. One of our favorite meals of the trip was the light dinner we prepared at home after a delightful lunch out: fresh radishes and cherry tomatoes, creamy cheese and crusty bread, bowls of gazpacho and glasses of rose. We ate perched at the window of our quiet street, chatting and nibbling to a chorus of “Bon Appetits” smiled through the window.
Being in an actual neighborhood: We stayed in a residential neighborhood in the third arrondissement: a few minutes from ritzy Place des Vosges and the trendy (and historical, and Jewish, and gay) Marais neighborhood. There were few hotels or hostels in the area, which meant we rarely passed English speakers on the streets. Instead, we noticed the children wandering to school in the morning (at a civilized half past 10, as Nevin noted), the au pairs pushing a stroller with their charges, the elderly women off to market. And key for all Paris stays: only a few minutes from the closest Metro.
Feeling like home: One of Dan’s friends was also visiting from London, so we suggested meeting up at the apartment before heading out for a drink. As soon as he walked in, he looked around and commented on what a nice flat I had. Oh! But only if it was my flat… Still, Nevin and I constantly referred to the apartment as “home”–a bit of simply wishful thinking as well as a reflection on how comfortable we felt. Not having to go through a hotel or hostel reception does a lot to make you feel more at home!
It’s cozy: Space is at a premium in Paris, and nowhere is this more apparent than in real estate. Apartments tend to be small but efficient, with no wasted space. That said, our loft-studio was juuuuuust big enough. You couldn’t stand up in the loft area, and the kitchen had pretty much no counter space unless you counted the stovetop–and it opened right into the equally tiny bathroom. Nevin and I could barely turn around in the shower without knocking into the wall—I can’t imagine how the average American male would fit! Note: ask for shower sizes when booking apartments in Paris if you’re particularly tall or wide.
Having to deal with problems: One evening we came home and the extremely old-fashioned lock and bolt had just popped out: the door wouldn’t close all the way, and locking it was out of the question. We ended up having to call the estate agent, who had to call a locksmith, who had to ask permission from the owner to change the lock–none of it was our fault, as the locksmith and the estate agent were quick to point out, but it still meant we had to spend most of our Saturday night waiting around for it to be fixed. Luckily, we had a delicious spread of veggies and bread planned for our dinner and the estate agent was lovely, but still–this isn’t a hotel where you can just transfer to the room next door in case of a problem.
Overall, my Roomorama experience was brilliant: so much so that I’m already researching a petit studio for my next stay in Paris! The website is easy to use, and there are options for every type of traveler–all group sizes, all budgets–in a city as large as Paris. One of the main reasons I’ll continue to use Roomorama: they offer nice little discounts each time you review a property ($25 off your next stay) or promote your booking on social media ($5 off immediately): it really makes me keen to use it more often!
Note: Roomorama did offer me a discount on my first stay and I have agreed to become an affiliate–but I really love the site and will continue to use it for my own personal travel. If you do decide to use Roomorama, I’d love it if you’d click through the ad in my sidebar :)