Hamilton Accommodation: Vacation Rentals

Types | Advantages | 6 Basic Steps | Considerations

Vacation rentals are popular across Canada and around the world! They are villas, houses, cottages, apartments, farmshouses, and can be located in the countryside or in cities, and typically rented by the week. These accommodations have kitchens that let you (or you and your family) live comfortably and often more affordably for a longer stay, and range in size from a simple apartment to a cottage to a multi-bedroom villa.

Vacation rentals have been popular in Europe, particularly in England ("holiday cottages" or "self catering"), France ("gites"), Germany ("ferienwohnungen"), Ireland, Italy ("agriturismi"), Spain, and Switzerland, and can be booked through agencies or directly with the owner. If booking in Europe, they are typically from Saturday to Saturday.

Types of vacation rentals

  • Villa or Executive homes, better for families or large groups
  • Small house or cottage usually in the country or in a small town, specially renovated for vacation use.
  • Apartment on a farm countryside farms may have an apartment or an out building, which are less expensive than stand-alone houses.
  • Apartment on an estate often on a larger property, sometimes with a shared swimming pool, and typically with several apartments on an estate.
  • Apartment in a city short term rentals in cities.

Advantages and Disadvantages



  • Vacation rentals are less expensive per night than hotels.
  • Save more money doing some of your own cooking.
  • More space & privacy, often with a private outside area for relaxing
  • Some larger villas come with a cook to prepare meals for a group
  • You can explore one are from a fixed base, instead of always changing hotels
  • You can still use hotels for part of your vacation

  • Some vacation rentals include weekly maid service, but some do not.
  • You clean up for yourself, shop for your groceries, cook your own meals.
  • There is no room service!
  • Not suitable if you do not want to spend a week or two in the same place.
  • You have to prepay your vacation rental, with up to 50 percent at the time of booking (sometimes a year ahead)
  • If you cancel your trip, you lose the non-refundable deposit
  • No using the credit card "float" to finance the vacation
  • The rental host is not a concierge, and in a foreign country may not even speak your language.

When you stay at a vacation rental, plan to be self-sufficient. Have your own transportation, like a rental car. Bring your own cell phone (get a prepaid or calling card plan that works in the vacation area), since some vacation rentals may not provide phones. Bring good guidebooks and do your destination research ahead of time. If staying on a farm, keep in mind, the host probably has a job running the farm.

Six basic steps in booking a Vacation Rental:

  1. Decide destination and length of stay, and preference for recreational activities
  2. Search Vacation Rental options and develop a "short list"
  3. Prioritize properties by location, size, rates and sleeping capacity
  4. Browse websites and compare features included in the rental price
  5. Reserve either from the website or by phone
  6. Get confirmation by email or fax (with confirmation number), especially when making a deposit or pre-appaying

Some things to consider in choosing a Vacation Rental

  • Carefully read catalog descriptions, and compare features and wording. Look at any photos for affirmation of features, and notice what is NOT shown in the photos.

  • While the property chosen is yours for the booked period, the owner or management company will try to correct and address problems, but changing homes is not often an option, especially during local peak season when alternatives are also fully booked. .

  • When renting from private owners, rather than a management firm, can save money (no middleman), be sure to get references from prior guests.

  • When renting from an agent, use one who specializes in vacation home rentals. They are committed to managing both properties and repeat customers from year to year.

  • Be prepared to choose quickly and/or compromise on features especially when booking closer to peak seasons or times that include holiday weeks or long weekends.

  • On your first day after arrival, report anything broken or missing. That way things can be made right quickly, and you will not be penalized upon departure for breakage/theft.

  • For properties with pools, determine the local pool season, and confirm that it is private or shared.

  • Determine how close the property is to your desired attractions and facilities (and local grocery store). Is it walking or driving distance, and is the way level or up/down a hill. Is there local transit or a beach shuttle, as appropriate?

  • If the Rental has internet access, is it dial-up, high speed (cable or ADSL?), or WiFi?

  • Confirm additional requirements/amenities like disabled access, smoking policies, pet policies, noise/party curfews, and maid service.
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