When we were making our plans to go to North Carolina with my husband while he went to his conference, I was surprised that a hotel suite would cost us $160 a night plus tax.  He was only being reimbursed for the cost the hotel onsite would have cost, which was $110 a night, so we really didn’t want to pay an additional $50 a night.

Instead, I looked into using a vacation rental by owner (VRBO).  I used the site VRBO.com, and found a condo a few miles away from his conference for $116 a night plus tax.  Rather than staying in a small two room suite, we would be staying in a 2 bedroom, 1,000 square foot condo complete with a fully equipped kitchen, which is vital to us since we need to bring all of our food when we travel due to our dairy and soy intolerances.

The condo was quite spacious and perfectly met our needs.  The owner was quite attentive from answering my e-mails before we travelled and while we were visiting.  He was frequently on the property, and whenever we had trouble such as the air conditioner not working, he offered to bring over a portable air conditioning unit until ours could be fixed, which it was the next day.  (I still find it crazy that we needed to worry about air conditioning in March, but that is a different story.)   There was a washer and dryer in the condo, so I could do laundry and not have to worry about doing several loads when we got home.  The location was also very quiet, which was perfect for my kids who are light sleepers.

On the other hand, there were a few negatives.  First, the appliances were ridiculously old.  The microwave still had a turn dial to set the cooking time, and the dryer was so old, when I opened the door to check if the clothes were dry without turning off the dryer, it just kept going.  There was no automatic safety shut off.  In addition, I was only able to do one load of laundry because the dryer was so old, even after two hours of drying the clothes were still damp.  It was also very loud.

Besides the appliances, the owner stipulated that the kitchen must be exactly as it was when you arrived, which meant we had to run the dishwasher and put all of the dishes away before we left.  That meant that I had to run the dishwasher late in the afternoon and serve our dinner on the last night and our breakfast the next morning on paper plates we had to buy since we were leaving very early and wouldn’t have time to run and empty the dishwasher before we left.  In addition, we had to take out all of our garbage and sweep before we left.  While I understand his purpose in having the rules, it was inconvenient to have to do all of that before leaving.

While we had mixed reviews about our VRBO experience, we plan to book a VRBO at least one more time.  Since this was our first time, we don’t yet know if we will have a similar experience at another VRBO or if the drawbacks we experienced at this one were unique.  The next time my husband goes to a conference, we will book a VRBO.

Have you stayed at a VRBO before?  If so, would you say my experience is typical?

Photo courtesy of Skaneateles Suites via Flickr.

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