When Roomarama invited me to stay with them on an upcoming trip, I was excited. Several friends have enjoyed their apartments around the world, and luckily for me they have several properties in Bogota. So, how did it work out?
Finding a property
You may have read this post explaining how Roomorama works, but I’ll recap. Roomorama lists privately-owned short-term rental properties. I like that you can see a map view of all the options in a specific area since they’re all on one site rather than having to compare ads from around the internet.
Booking a property
Since these properties are privately-owned, however, it’s not as simple as clicking “reserve.” You have to send an inquiry to the potential host, and only once he or she confirms availability can you book.
This turned out to be a headache in my case as none of the Bogota apartment owners would respond! I went in order of neighborhood desirability – important in a city that can be dangerous – and style, and I ended up having to go right to the bottom of my list. This isn’t Roomorama’s fault, but it’s something to keep in mind if you like the ease of confirming a reservation in minutes. Roomorama does offer to help by sending reminder emails to hosts if you aren’t getting responses.
Once my booking was confirmed, I received an email asking me to print out, sign and return the guest agreement with a copy of my ID. While this was easy, it’s an extra step.
Confirming your stay
Two days before we left, I suddenly realized I didn’t have the exact address. I had forgotten to follow up with my host, liddabogota, for details of where and how to check in, since I’m used to that information coming with a confirmation. It was no problem, as my host responded quickly, but make sure you don’t forget completely and end up in a foreign airport with no idea of where to go!
Some apartments require a security deposit. Roomorama says this can be made using cash, credit card or PayPal, but be sure to ask your host before you book if you’d rather not do cash. Our host told us that if we’d wanted to go the credit card or PayPal route, we needed to have done that earlier. I’m not sure if this was true – read on for why – but it’s something to keep in mind.
The stay itself
While Roomorama is not responsible for the hosts or their properties, I can’t separate my stay from the overall process. Unfortunately, our experience was a let-down. Having already scraped the bottom of the barrel when it came to the listings, I was not pleased to be informed at the last minute that we would be staying elsewhere. The apartment we’d booked was damaged, so we were moved to a different property further from the main attractions of Bogota.
While the original apartment wasn’t exactly luxurious, this new place was bare bones. We considered ditching the whole thing and just paying for a last-minute hotel room, but for two nights we figured we’d survive. If I’d been paying for this stay myself, however, I would have been out of there.
The staff at the building were friendly and helpful, but our host was not. She did eventually agree to meet us at the apartment at a specified time for check-in, but she initially wanted us to call her from the airport upon arrival. The last thing I want to do after a flight is roam the airport looking for a pay phone or use my cell phone and pay exorbitant roaming rates.
There was also the question of the deposits. She tried to overcharge us for the cleaning deposit, which I chalked up to an honest mistake due to the change in apartments. Until she stiffed us about $10 on the return of the security deposit. At that point, we were so over the whole thing – and running late for our last day, since she’d arrived an hour late for check-out – that we just let it go.
Would I use Roomorama again?
I realize all of this sounds negative, but the worst of that is due to factors specific to our host. Most of the time, I would still rather stay in a hotel than a private apartment. I like the services and ease of a dedicated staff, and it’s nice to have additional amenities.
However, if I were traveling with a group, staying in an apartment could be a great option. I can also see using an apartment for a more local stay, like a beach weekend, where going out to eat wouldn’t be so important. In that case, I would gladly use Roomorama again, with the caveat that if my first-choice properties weren’t available, I’d look elsewhere.
The people at Roomorama were helpful and responsive to all of my questions and concerns, and it’s just a shame that the rest of my experience was different.
Have you ever rented an apartment on vacation? Do you prefer them to hotels? Do you agree this place looks unappealing?
More in this series:
The view from Cerro Monserrate
The marvelous Museo de Oro
The Botero Museum will make you smile
Taking a Bogota bike tour
Andrés Carne de Res: Bogota’s craziest restaurant
The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá
The truth about Bogota