The older I get, the pickier I’ve become about accommodations. Decor is just as important to me as cleanliness, convenience, and affordability. I had pored over apartment listings on VRBO and Airbnb for days, looking at countless pictures, reading reviews and descriptions, researching locations. I wanted the perfect apartment: a stylish Parisian flat in a good location for a reasonable price. We got two out of three. I picked this apartment because it was in our budget, in a trendy neighborhood within five minutes walking distance to the Eiffel Tower, and had great pictures and reviews. When we stepped inside, my heart sank. The apartment was a great deal shabbier (and dirtier) than what was depicted in the pictures, and its weak electric heaters hardly did anything to make being inside feel any different from being outside. We had to resort to sealing off all windowsills and doorsills with blankets and keeping all the shutters closed in an attempt to insulate the apartment. It’s like living inside a refrigerator: dark, cold, and gloomy. Not exactly how I imagined spending the next six weeks.
If it had been a fabulous and comfortable apartment, I could overlook minor annoyances. I know that renters are supposed to buy their own supplies, but vacation rentals, as a courtesy, usually supply adequate “starter” amounts of the basics: toilet paper, salt, pepper, sugar, soap. The apartment had almost none of these things. Imagine my frustration upon arriving to Paris after a red-eye flight and finding that there was barely a quarter of a roll of toilet paper in the entire apartment, not enough to last our family of five for much longer than a minute and a half. So forget about resting or taking a nap or unpacking, we immediately had to set off for the nearest grocery store in search of toilet paper. Then imagine my frustration upon later learning that the apartment didn’t have salt, pepper, or sugar and then having to run out to get those things too. And so forth with soap, dish detergent, etc. Fortunately there are several stores in close proximity but the mounting costs and inconvenience are seriously getting on my nerves.
The worst thing about the apartment (so far) is the second bedroom that is accessible only by going outside and traversing a terrace about ten feet across. Having to go outside in the dead of winter every time you want to get into your bedroom basically renders that bedroom non-usable space. Even though this apartment costs less than staying in a hotel for six weeks, it still wasn’t cheap and I don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. And don’t even get me started on the condition of the towels.