For certain travelers, embracing home-sharing services has meant accepting some subtle casualties along the way: oftentimes, choosing that cozy East London flat doesn't mean returning—legs weary at the end of a long day—to those impossibly tucked-in crisp bedsheets. It means worrying about who has the keys. And, most painfully for some, it has meant bidding a fond farewell to that most treasured luxury—the all-knowing, all-connected hotel concierge.
Today, vacation rental companies are aiming to offer the best of both worlds: the freedom and adventure of renting an apartment in a city, say, balanced with the luxury, comfort, and local knowledge of a hotel. Here are five services that will help you do just that.
Paris Perfect helps you play local in a classic, perfectly appointed apartment in France’s capital city. A dedicated concierge is on call throughout your stay and, before you travel, the company will help plan a personal itinerary for your trip tailored to your preferences. While we were there, a local chef came to our apartment rental on Place Dauphine for a cooking lesson (that night’s menu: stuffed artichokes, ratatouille, and crêpes). Paris Perfect has growing offshoots across the continent also: visit London Perfect and Italy Perfect for more.
Homebase Abroad’s portfolio of Italian villas line the Amalfi Coast and reach up to the Dolomites, each coming with its own set of potential experiences depending on what’s locally available. Select "Food & Wine" as your priority on their site, and you’ll be shown villas where hands-on pizza nights and evenings with sommeliers can be arranged. Choose "Staying Active," and up pop villas where skiing, fishing, or canoeing on Lake Como can fill your days. Their list of services goes on to include a private fireworks display, laundry on-call, and even a photographer who can capture those moments you’re just too busy enjoying.
OneFineStay’s homes dot the world—tucked along the main streets of Edinburgh, across from the Pantheon in Rome, and a bark away from the seals in La Jolla. Wherever you end up, you’ll be welcomed in person by their local specialists and housekeeping team, at a home that has been found to meet their exacting standards (only one in ten make the cut).
Time + Place regard their numerous, continent-spanning vacation homes as only the launchpad for the 360-degree service they look to provide. Upon arrival, a call to their concierges can source tickets to sold-out events, arrange private palace tours, and more, all in line with their chief mission: to turn your bucket list into a did-it list. One example? The Wimbledon package includes a conversation with a former pro, tennis lesson, and courtside seats for the Men’s and Women’s finals. Not bad.
The Thinking Traveller’s London-based team divides their time between Blighty and the open road, embedding themselves deeply into the areas around Sicily, Puglia, Corsica, and beyond to ensure that their guests receive the most up-to-the minute local intel and support. One sign they take it seriously? It’s nearly impossible to book without speaking to one of their experts beforehand. Once there, your account will be transferred to a local contact, so that even when the London office is asleep, your resources are ready in the wings.
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