I have been shopping for vacation rentals for our summer trip. Finding great cottages in England is easy. Local agencies in England tend to be good, to have hand picked properties and offer fair prices. You may find a better price renting from an owner directly, but many owners list their places only with agencies, and I have found the prices are not that different.
Now we are thinking about a week and a half in France at the start of our trip. We fly into Heathrow, spend a relaxing few nights in Windsor (to get over jetlag and visit nearby friends), then take the train to France. So I am looking at vacation rentals in several rural regions in France, using Slow Europe of course.
Renting from an Agency vs Rent-by-Owner
When you find a vacation rental that looks good, or an agency that you might want to use, always Google the property name and location to see if the owner has a site or it is represented somewhere else, so you can compare pricing. Here is a good example of what you might find.
Agency (US based) France by Heart – Property Saint Cyprien Petite Forge in the Dordogne near Sarlat, cottage on an estate (Bagnegrole) sleeps 2. Price in summer $1,490/week.
I googled “Bagnegrole Sarlat” to find the owner site, where the price is half what the US agency is asking.
Bagnegrole – La Petite Forge. Price in summer €550/week (about $715/week).
This is quite a difference in price. It is easier to book with a US agency – they can give travel advice, answer your questions, let you pay with a credit card or US check – but is it worth this much of a premium? No, I don’t think so.
Read more about vacation rentals agencies vs. rent-by-owner on Slow Europe.
How We Choose Agencies/Websites for Slow Europe
We still have a lot of work to do on the Slow Europe site. We have started out with a good list of agencies, but as we start to get feedback from renters and hear from travel businesses, we will update our lists.
For now I will keep France by Heart on our list, but will make a note that prices can be much higher than those on the owner site. I will also check through their listings to see if this is a common practice, or if I just got lucky and found the one place where there was such a mis-match in pricing.