Vacation Rentals :: A Palm Springs Story

With so many unique hotels in Palm Springs, from retro resorts to hip hideaways, I've always chosen a hotel over a vacation rental. But a recent trip to my favourite desert destination inspired me to rent a holiday home rather than share hotel rooms with friends.

Vacation Rentals vs. Hotels

I love the comforts of home, aesthetic variety and neighborhood options of vacation homes. I love hosts who offer restaurant recommendations or touches like a bottle of wine or coffee and tea upon arrival. I love cooking my own meals if I feel like it. I love unconventional spaces like tree houses or Airstreams or houseboats. I love the privacy of my own space. I love living amongst locals in off-the-beaten-path locales instead of hotel strips.

All of this said, I love the ease of hotel booking. I love not having to clean and never having to leave the resort if I don't want to. I love meeting new friends and people watching. I love knowing what I'm going to get and how much it's going to cost. I love ordering food to my room. I love being right in the thick of it with the city on my doorstep.

There are as many great reasons to book a vacation property as there are to book a hotel. That's the ethos of Trip Styler. We have the freedom and opportunity to choose from any number of trip styles for any given trip.

Tips for Selecting a Vacation Rental 

  • Establish a budget – Before diving too deep into your research, know your nightly cost {in your own currency, if applicable}. That way you won't be tempted by houses plucked off the pages of Architectural Digest.
  • Select a neighborhood – Do you want to walk into town? Do you want a neighborhood with midcentury homes? Consider these elements and make use of Google Maps' Street View feature to get a feel for the area. 
  • Decide on amenities – If a private pool is a must, avoid properties with shared pools. If you plan to cook, ensure there's a spacious kitchen and barbecue. Not all houses I looked at had a heated pool, which many assured me was a must-have in the winter.
  • Count the beds {and baths} – If the house is Instagram-worthy but only has two double beds for five people, it might not worth the digital likes. Consider who's willing to share beds or take the couch before booking.
  • Ask questions – Send Airbnb owners or property managers questions to get a sense of the hosts based on their responsiveness and helpfulness. I confirmed availability and cost and inquired about pool heating, neighborhood and wind factor, as properties on the northern side of town can be quite windy.
  • Read the reviews – I'm a huge fan of reviews, but I always take them with a grain of salt. I pay close attention to reviews that mention any issues and how they were handled. Broken heater but owner responds immediately with several space heaters? That's a good sign. The beauty of Airbnb is that you can see a reviewer's photos, rental history and even their own properties for rental.

Things to Know

  • Vacation rentals are not always cheaper than hotels  Our Palm Springs house was about the same price as two rooms at the Ace Hotel. 
  • Vacation rentals require hours of research  I created a document with details on the all the houses I contacted, including photos, costs, neighborhood, style of home and record of communication. 
  • Vacation rentals may be listed on multiple sites at different prices  I tend to research properties on Airbnb because it's the most visually appealing website, but I've never booked on the site {not for lack of trying} for reasons like availability, communication and cost. I found our Palm Springs rental on Airbnb, but booked it with the rental company. 
  • Vacation rentals may have hidden fees  I encountered a sneaky fee when I rented our Palm Springs home because I was paying with a credit card. Other hidden fees to look out for include daily pool heating and cleaning fees. 
  • Vacation rental owners can be flaky  I contacted about a dozen properties on VRBO and Airbnb and either I never heard back or was informed their calendar wasn't up to date by a third of them. 
  • Vacation rentals may require contracts and deposits up front  The beauty of Airbnb is that everything is arranged through the website. Other companies may require contracts to be signed and deposits sent ahead of time or upon arrival in cash or money order.

My Palm Springs Rental Experience

I wanted a midcentury home right in Palm Springs with a heated pool and fun aesthetic. I needed beds for five people and a good kitchen for cooking together. I found 15 properties at our price point, contacted a dozen and shortlisted five. I ended up selecting this property {see photo collage at top of post} from a local vacation rental company. It worked well for our group with three bedrooms, a pool and hot tub, enough pool loungers for everyone, two outdoor eating spaces and two living areas. It was close to the airport, close to grocery stores and about 10 minutes from downtown. Would I rent this house again? Probably notbut only because there are so many properties to choose from and I want to experience them all!

>> View more Palm Springs vacation rentals on my Airbnb Wish List. <<

This post is written by Trip Styler's Assistant Wayfarer/Editor Heather.

Top 5 Vacation Home Rental Sites
Roam+Board :: Korakia Pensione
Road+Board :: Parker Palm Springs

[top photos via oasis rentals except top left of author by @graceyvr, all other photos via airbnb]