Two weeks ago, I sung the praises of vacation rentals. Here’s another example of showing that love in San Francisco.
For a photography workshop last year, I told my husband that staying in a hotel room for four nights was just completely stupid.
Going out to breakfast, lunch and dinner would be thrilling to my culinary sense of adventure, but I knew it would get tiresome after the third day. So I suggested getting a vacation rental. He was more than willing to go with it.
Apparently, more travelers agree with our viewpoint. Vacation rental transactions have increased 9% in the last four years, according to USA Today. While most travelers still prefer staying in hotels and resorts over rentals, families and couples find that having a homelike place provides convenience and savings.
Our particular unit sat atop Telegraph Hill, literally four stair flights away from Coit Tower and alongside the Filbert Steps. This being San Francisco, we should have thought better to bring a rental car. The Chevy Traverse was practical to use for our trip to see my mother south of the City and for the quick trip to Marin County, but not so much while we were settled in. Parking was practically nonexistent, and the apartment building itself didn’t have a garage. When we could find a space, it’s surprising that we didn’t get a telephone book of parking tickets. So we returned the rental the next day to SFO.
(A word of warning about San Francisco parking: if you must rent a car, be aware that spaces are at a premium in neighborhoods like Telegraph Hill. Unless you have a residential city parking permit, you’ll only be able to park for two hours maximum until 9 P.M. You can then park overnight, but be sure to move your car before 8 A.M. Better yet, just avoid the car altogether).
The studio loft apartment had a killer view of the East Bay and Mt. Diablo, with north-facing floor-to-ceiling picture windows. This allowed for natural light to stream in throughout most of the day, but it also heated the apartment up to near broiling heat until evening, then biting cold in the morning. Luckily, the owner had provided both heating and circular fans to keep things comfortable.
Even with a pocket kitchen, a bookshelf jammed against the loft railing and a relatively small bathroom, the apartment never seemed cramped. The high ceiling and loft bedroom area contributed to this feeling of airiness. This place was just right for two, and how it would be a great romantic getaway for any couple in need of a break from the everyday routine.
Being at the peak of Telegraph Hill, and now having no car, meant that we climbed its 15% grade slopes at least several times a day. If we wanted to hit the Embarcadero to the east, the zillion flights of the Filbert Steps were the only option. I first thought that our high-altitude acclimated cardiovascular systems would function A-OK in this sea level city’s hills, and they did. Rarely did we huff and puff ascending the hill back to the apartment. The problem was our leg and hip muscles. Even though my husband and I are runners, we’re both in the summer-autumn of our lifespan. At night, my body was creaking and protesting in ways it never had before, but the effort was worth it. All the goodies we consumed during the day needed to be burned off somehow.
A rental is ideal when you plan to stay more than two days in any one place. In fact, most owners stipulate a minimum of 2-3 nights, sometimes longer. In addition, it just makes sense to consider this type of accommodation instead of a hotel. Ultimately, you will save on dining costs by grocery shopping for some breakfast, lunch and perhaps dinner items.
That’s especially true in a highly dollar-absorbent place like San Francisco.
Second, when you stay in a rental, you can temporarily live like a local. Situated deep in a residential neighborhood, you’re not sticking out as a visitor like you would at a hotel. And no one will know unless you tell someone. You can explore places not found on the usual travel guides and experience your destination as a native. Having this option places you one step above the typical tourist.
Finally, you can relax in a rental like you would at home. If there’s more than one bedroom, adults can have their sleeping space and the kids have theirs. If you want to fix up a quick snack, just go to the kitchen and grab something (and not pay $5 for a bag of chips, $3 for a can of soda). These are things you just can’t do in a hotel.
And what hotel is going to give you this kind of “point of interest?”