Vacation Rentals - How to go about doing it
January 16, 2013 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Looking for guidance and recommendations on renting a house for one week in Rhode Island this coming June. I'm looking to be somewhat near Bristol, RI (but can be as much as 30 miles away), near a beach, biking trails and a cute town with a few nice restaurants and attractions. Would love your recommendations on what town to look for a rental, as well as rental agencies/websites to go to to find properties and information on how one goes about doing it - should I contact the owner, how do I get a guarantee that this person/place is legitimate, and that my deposit is guaranteed. Also, can you give me the ins and outs of renting a home for a week vacation? Tips on how to go about doing it, what to watch out for, as well as how to make the best of a one week's rental or things to do in a Rhode Island seaside town would be fun. Thanks!
posted by BlueMartini7 to Travel & Transportation around Rhode Island (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not in your area, but is a great resource for short-term vacation house rentals.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:57 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

VRBO and its relatives (HomeAway, etc). This is pretty much how we stay anywhere for more than two nights, and have found some awesome places to stay.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:05 AM on January 16, 2013

Best answer: Here are the resource that I've had success with:
VRBO (and HomeAway which is part of the network)
Air bnb

As far as things to look out for:
1. Make sure there are lots of photos of the place.
2. Some of these sites have the ability to leave reviews... read them.
3. If offered by an agency, read reviews of the agency if you can find them
4. If offered by an individual, ask questions, and note how responsive they are.
5. Make sure you understand cleaning fees (these can often add up)
6. Make sure you understand deposit and payments. Most place require a deposit of up to half or more in advance.
7. One thing that we've noticed when looking at place to rent with our family (especially in popular tourist destination)- watch out for "party houses". These will often have two queen beds in a bedroom, and will sleep 15+ people in a 3 bedroom house. They are geared toward college kids, and will often be dirty, shabby, etc.
8. Think about the bathroom situation if you are having a large party. Two bathrooms may seem fine for 8 people, but if one is en suite in the master bedroom, then that might not be such a great arrangement.

My family has done this in numerous places and by doing our due diligence, we've never had a horrible experience. Most places have been even better than we hoped!

Edited to add this. Occasionally some places require that you bring your own linens and towels. Make sure you know what the deal is.
posted by kimdog at 10:08 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing Airbnb as a resource for finding a house proper (each ad for each house also has information about a lot of the questions you're asking about the house itself).

As for location: you say "near" Bristol, RI. Airbnb lets you plot the different options on a map so you can get close to Bristol itself (all those places I linked to are available for rent for a full week mid-June), or even - in two cases - IN Bristol if you'd like. Once you see what cities have available houses, then you can check those cities out if you like.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on January 16, 2013

Portsmouth, Middletown, Newport, Little Compton, Barrington, Tiverton and Westport are all great options if you like the beach - 2nd and 3rd Beach in Middletown and Horseneck Beach in Westport being the best, but each town having its own little sandy beaches to explore.

Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport are all on the same island, one (free) bridge away from Bristol. Newport is a destination all its own, and will eat up all of your vacation time with restaurants, boutiques, idyllic scenery and charming architecture if you let it.

Tiverton and Little Compton are two (free) bridges away from Bristol, but still a short drive with little traffic. Westport is a very large town to the west of Tiverton and Little Compton, just over the border in MA, and is a bit further to drive. Barrington is just to the north of Bristol, very close.

Driving from Jamestown or the West Bay is possible, but, really, with a toll bridge and Newport traffic to contend with, you'd be better off in Portsmouth, Bristol or Barrington.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2013

Jamestown! True there is a toll bridge and traffic, but Beavertail is really breathtakingly beautiful, and I think Jamestown is such a cute place that you shouldn't discount it.

Also Newport really would be what many would consider The Destination in that part of the state, as it's got beautiful beaches, mansions to look at, the cliff walk, lots of history, a beautiful windy route for biking around by the ocean, and a lively downtown with great restaurants, shops, nightlife, etc.

But any of the towns Slap*Happy suggested should do the trick for you.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:10 PM on January 16, 2013

(And to correct any misrepresentation, Westport is only large in area, not in population. Kind of rural, if anything. Fall River is large in population and nearby, but is only a tourist destination if you like getting shanked in an alley.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:57 AM on January 17, 2013

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