So you’re planning a romantic getaway and are looking to experience a new place just like a local would, maybe with a bit of luxury, and you want to do it without spending a fortune. But when you do a tally of hotel costs plus meals and drinks out, along with internet costs, you realise it’s all going to be quite pricey and you’ll probably still be doing the same as all the other tourists in town.
We put the online apartment booking service Roomorama to the test during a four day trip to San Francisco to find out if we could save money while on a romantic getaway and get a real San Fran experience which would give us luxury holiday ideas for our holiday destinations section.
Roomorama.com was formed in 2009 by New Yorkers Jia En Teo and Federico Folcia, and its launch was a natural progression as they’d been renting their own apartment for many years to fund their own travels around the globe. What they’ve created is an online marketplace for guests and hosts who can connect, and use the website as a safe way to do business.
The Booking Process:
With four days in San Francisco, we tried to stick to a budget of between $100 and $150 a night as four star hotels in the city were coming in at between $200 and $250 a night. The online system was easy to navigate and Roomorama had 250 listings for the San Francisco area. With the “refine search” function, I set the limit at $150 and checked on “apartment” and “house” to exclude renting a bedroom in someone’s home. The filter also has 17 functions for amenities including internet, cable TV, washing machines etc. Surprisingly the $150 limit filtered options still turned up 68 properties with studios starting from AU$56. From there it was a matter of finding which ones were available as we were planning to stay at one of the busiest times of the year over the Memorial Day weekend.
We narrowed our list down to about half a dozen and opted for a studio with kitchenette, mainly because of its location in the Financial District, and it was a reasonable US$125 a night. We contacted the host through Roomorama to confirm availability and price and with in hours we received that, along with some forms by email from the owner to complete. We added our credit card details to the forms to hold the property. A code was then emailed to us by Roomorama, and we passed that code on to the owner after a successful check-in which then means the payment is made to the owner.
There were add ons to our US$125 a night, including US$75 in tax, processing charge of US$80 and Roomorama’s fee of US$80 which made the total cost US$735.
Checking In and The Property:
Gino’s Cozy Studio is indeed run by Gino who works out of a boutique shoe shop on Kearny Street and he helped us upstairs with our bags and showed us around and passed on a few local hints about restaurants and bars in the area. The studio was nicely appointed, and a decent size with a good sized bed, dining table with two chairs, a couch, a small kitchenette and a shower, and Wi-Fi was included. There’s also a lovely deck on top of the building which is great little sun trap during the day. The best thing about this place though is the location: it’s literally a few blocks from Chinatown and a short walk from Union Square and there are dozens of restaurants right outside the door. Gino is also a great host and leaves you to get on with having fun but is more than happy to pass on some local knowledge if you ask. We had a late flight on Qantas the day we checked out, and he was more than happy to let us leave at 3pm as nobody else was booked in after us.
This studio was perfect for a short city stay. It was a lot cheaper than a hotel and we were able to do some basic cooking as well which does keep the credit card bill down. The booking process was easy and the Roomorama website has all the information you need about the whole booking process, and a good selection of properties around the world. As always, make sure you’re aware of all the costs before booking with your credit card.
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