Eek! I just booked a vrbo in 5 minutes flat.

I’m a risk-taker. So is my husband Josh. As an example, we got married five months after we met.

We like to dive in head-first.

But I just did something that I sort of can’t believe – I booked a week-long vacation rental stay in Barcelona after about five minutes of research. I just got a good vibe from the place.

barcelona vrbo

Doesn’t it look cool?

It got nothing but five-star, positive reviews. People had tons of good things to say about the owner. It’s supposed to be super-quiet, close to everything, immaculate, and comfortable.

What more could we want?

So I dove in. I just pressed the “send” button, committing to pay for a week’s stay.


Have you ever stayed in a “vacation rental by owner” property? How long did it take you to make your decision? Did you have a positive experience? Would you do it differently next time?

I’d love to know.



  1. Every year our entire extended family rents a house in the vacation area we choose (the last two at St. Simon’s island, GA)…it has been a great experience, and much cheaper than all booking rooms separate.

  2. VRBO is wonderful! I haven’t used extensively, but have booked multiple times in HI & CA. I have never been disappointed. I love the value of having a whole place w kitchen, able to sleep lots of ppl at my discretion – I.e. first trip to HI, I rented a beach house and friends came to visit throughout the two weeks. I love that they have a wide variety of properties ($-$$$$) and are everywhere. I love that they’re someone’s private house/condo, and I can usually see the extra steps they took to ensure comfort. The kitchen is often stocked with condiments, which saves $$. I’ve found there to be washer/dryer in the homes I’ve rented, which is always appreciated.

    I travel enough for work and stay in hotels. Of course I use my points and miles at hotels from time to time, but I’ve found that VRBO offers a nice alternative that encompasses feeling at home while on holiday, and usually at a significantly better rate.

    • P.S. I Didn’t realize you could book direct from site. I thought you send a mail to owners via the form, including your preferred dates, but that you’re not actually confirmed until correspondence w/them. Memory may be failing me but that’s how I recall it working. Also recall that not all keep availability calendars current.

  3. I’m almost done with a week long apartment stay in Malta booked through Airbnb. I’m having a great time and will write a positive review. I’ve learned it’s really important to read everything on the listing, and look carefully at all the photos. One I looked at I couldn’t see how the bathroom was accessed, turns out it’s outside on the patio, not so good in the winter. Some listings in Europe limit how much electricity you can consume. Ask questions, at least on airbnb hosts are pretty quick at responding. I’ve been able to get a reduced rate during low/off season just by contacting the host and asking.

  4. We only used VRBO once but it was a great experience. I did a little more research. LOL. I contacted the city the house was in and made sure all taxes were current. I also contacted the home owners association to see if there were any complaints against the owners and if their clubhouse fees were paid. Of course, this was in a gated community in Florida! It was a great experience!

  5. Booked on similar type site for charming, fabulously located apartment in Paris. Also great reviews. A good stay in many ways, but I am getting more fussy as I get older, and I did not have a good vibe about the bedspread, and I absolutely hate the old style bedspreads. The washer/dryer in the apartment was extremely small, and extremely slow, so really not sure when bedspread had been washed and it was clear that the inhouse machine was the source for the washing. Also, when we arrived, discovered that exterior work was being done to the building, and there was scaffolding and occasional workmen right outside the living room window a few feet away from us. owner definitely did not mention that, and photograph surely did not show it.
    Was great having a kitchen,although ours was astonishingly small, as was the bathroom.

    Know neighbors who rented in Barcelona a few years back and they raved about it! Hope yours is great!

  6. Love VRBO….for domestic stays. We use it for Hilton Head almost every year.
    I don’t want to be an alarmist and that being said, do a quick GIS for some European/Asian stories from VRBO and a few other booking sites.
    Sometimes if it sounds to good to be true, it might be. Assuming you used a credit card any problem that should arise is usually OK. If you wired/ACHed money, then be very cautious as you have little recourse.
    Otherwise, VRBO is great.

  7. Points Pixie says

    Conor – I’ve never done it before, but I’m looking forward to this!

    Rebecca – I went through TripAdvisor. They’ve got a VRBO section. The way it works there is that while you can contact the owner to ask questions, etc, you can also choose to simply pay and commit. Which is what I did!

    Missy – Good tips! Depending on how my stay goes, I may wish that I had followed them. 😉

    Michelle – More great tips!

    Kate – I hate old-style bedspreads as well!!! I hope ours is great, too! At least it is supposed to have a very fast internet connection, so all of you will hear about the outcome in real-time when it happens. 😉

    Geoff – Eek! I threw caution to the wind! I did use a credit card, though.

    Geoff –

  8. Sure have. We stayed in a VRBO for 2 weeks in Paris. It was an amazing studio for a fantastic price. :). Have a great time in Barcelona!

  9. Congrats. Looks awesome! I’ve found that results aren’t necessarily any different if you belabor your lodging decision or not. I’ve stayed at countless places through VRBO, Homeaway (same company), and Airbnb – all with mixed experiences. For the most part, they’ve been positive, and when negative, it’s usually been about a misrepresentation or an omission versus an outright disaster. Part of this is because I typically won’t stay somewhere that hasn’t been reviewed. That said, because a personal connection is fostered through dealing directly with the homeowner, reviewers tend to leave feedback on only the the good parts of their stays. While this is kind and all, it doesn’t paint the full picture. For example, a few weeks ago I stayed in a cottage in someone’s backyard in Sonoma. Everything was pretty much as expected, except: In this 600 square foot studio, the bathroom didn’t have a door. Like, no door. It had a curtain. The doorway was literally 1 foot from the side of the bed and about 4 feet from the open kitchenette. No door! Can you imagine going here on a romantic getaway with someone new (which thankfully I didn’t)? Horrifying.

    • Points Pixie says

      pinkisnice – Thanks. Yikes about the door! Did you review/share this info with future renters?

      • I hadn’t gotten a chance to leave one yet when I went back to the aribnb page and saw latest and the 57th reviewer *finally* said something for all the world to see. This would have helped a lot a month ago!

  10. Since mid-September 2013, my girlffriend Sandy and I have stayed in Airbnb apartments in Lausanne and Martigny, Switzerland; Prague, Budapest (2), Vienna, Salzburg, San Francisco (2), and New York City. This weekend we will stay in an Airbnb apartment in Portland, ME. I will stay in Airbnb private rooms when I visit in several cities alone in Israel in May.

    We have had splendid accommodations everywhere. Yes, we did our homework, we asked questions, eliminated those that seemed at all questionable. But we would unquestionably recommend Airbnb over any hotel or motel.

  11. I have used vbro extensively for the past several years for travel in the US. I have stayed in everything from historic homes in Savannah & Fredericksburg to log cabins in TN & AR. Only one bad experience where we didn’t take the time to check the references, hence the property was vastly misrepresented. All n all it’s been a positive experience which I highly re commend. But I never decided in 5 minutes! I hope you have a great time – it’s Barcelona!

  12. Points Pixie says

    Mel S – Great votes of confidence in the system! Thanks for the comment.

    Maureen – Exactly – it’s Barcelona!!


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