Sometimes though, you want to stay somewhere off the beaten path, or someplace small when you're in a big city. For that, you have to dig a little deeper to find what you're looking for, but the reward can be not only a refreshing change of pace, but sometimes it can even be refreshing for the pocketbook too.
This is multi-part series, so keep checking back, or click on "non-hotel" in our Labels to find related articles.
Part 2: Vacation Rentals
Long popular in Europe, vacation rentals have become increasing popular in the U.S. Vacation rentals are furnished apartments or houses that can be rented, and are different from timeshares. The size and type of accommodations can range from a large vacation home on the beach, to an apartment in the city.
Like B&B's, each place has it own unique character, but unlike B&B's, each place may also be used by the owner during part of the year. Many of them are located in popular vacation areas like beaches, lakes and mountains, and the combination of convenience and amenities make them very desirable. For the ones that are in destination locations, you may only be able to rent in one-week blocks of time. Some are big enough for more than one family, and can be great for group getaways.
Since vacation rentals are vacation homes, they come with kitchens, which can both save you money, or just be really convenient for relaxing at the end of a busy day out.
There are a number of websites to check out - start with HomeAway, VRBO, VactionHomeRental.com, ABetterPlace.com and Vacapedia. TripAdvisor and Travelocity also list vacation rentals on their websites.
If you are interested in vacation rentals specializing in particular locations, you could also consider California Beach Resorts and Surf to Ski Retreats.
Not all vacation rental companies work the same way. Vacation rental apartments that have building managers could be reserved online like a hotel. For individual properties, like a vacation home, you may have to email the owner to check price and availability, or get more information.
In Europe vacation rentals can go by different names in different countries. In the U.K. you may hear the term Self Catering Cottages (and variations), and other countries may use the term Villa or Apartment. For lodging in the U.K., two reservation companies are Dales Holiday Cottages and Park Resorts. In the Benelux region (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) Belvilla offers homes that range from modest Austrian chalets to luxuriant Italian villas and historic French Chateaux, and everything in between. Venere, owned by Expedia, lists vacation rentals and other types of lodging available throughout Europe and other places around the world (130 countries total).