Heading to Bogota with Roomorama

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.

Roomorama Bogota

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!

Additional details

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.

Bogota apartment

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.

Bathroom

Kitchen

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

17 Responses to “Heading to Bogota with Roomorama”

  1. Andrea says:

    Oh no! We had a terrible experience on our last trip to Amsterdam with an apartment we rented there. We use a booking website (not Roomorama) there that we had used before and had a very positive experience with to book a different place. When we arrived, it had no internet or cable as promised. We insisted on another place and got it (as the owners had a few around town), but even the new place was not really up to standard with all the amenities we had originally wanted. It really sucks when people don’t keep up their end of the commitment! We’ve booked a New York apartment for over New Years and I really hope everything goes ok with it…

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I decided internet would be my dealbreaker – if it had no internet, we were not staying there. This place did have wifi, but that is probably the best thing I can say about it.

      Hope your NY place works out well!

  2. Carine says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your experience in Bogota. I would never provide a copy of my ID to anyone as it is easily copied and with the credit card information it is even easier for possible thieves to use this information. It is terrible when arriving in a city to be disappointed with your rental…it happened to me in Palm Springs and we did not hesitate the next morning to go somewhere else. Your experience does reflect badly on Roomorama unfortunately, but then again, as you know I am sure, locals in South America usually do not respond to emails…I wonder why they have them in the first place. I hope that at least you enjoyed the city and discovered some nice places and restaurants.

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I didn’t have a problem providing my ID and credit card to Roomorama because I know people who’ve used the site before, luckily. I do think it’s nice to have an established site as the go-between when dealing with some random apartment owner, which is an advantage of using Roomorama if you’re going the apartment or house route.

  3. I’m sorry you didn’t have the best experience! I’ve heard really mixed reviews about Roomarama and I think I would only use it if I were staying in a city for a long time, like a couple of weeks or something. Otherwise it just might not be worth the hassle!

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I think just in general for me staying at an apartment is a bit more hassle than its worth since my priorities aren’t usually space, kitchen facilities or (to a certain extent) cost. If those are the things you look for though, I do think it’s a good option to have out there.

  4. What a HUGE disappointment. I am really sad that you had to deal with this. :(

    • Emily in Chile says:

      It was a bummer, but oh well. The money we saved by sticking it out and not going to a hotel meant more money for other activities in the city.

  5. Katie says:

    So sorry to hear what happened. I always use VRBO…I was never disappointed and have a great choice of rentals (apartments and houses) around the house.

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I really don’t blame Roomorama – I think on any site you can run the risk of a bad host just like an unfamiliar hotel can be a let-down in person. I guess I should just consider myself lucky that in all my travels this has only happened to me a couple of times!

  6. Katie says:

    Sorry, I meant around the world :)

  7. Arianwen says:

    This sounds like a pretty cool site, even if your experience wasn’t the best. Although I have to say, I had heaps of offers on CouchSurfing, and I prefer the way that allows you to get involved with the locals and get advice about the city.

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I’ve heard good things about Couchsurfing, but I don’t know that it’s for me. I would maybe use the site for the meet-ups, but I would rather spend money than sleep in someone’s house and have to deal with being social with them :)

  8. Cata says:

    pobre!!! bad location and bad customer service! that word probably doesn’t even exist in south america!! :(

    • Emily in Chile says:

      Haha, customer service is certainly “en desarrollo” in many places down here, sadly. Luckily the location was safe though, thank you so much for all your guidance!

  9. Ugh. This is the downfall with apartment rentals, I’d say. I’ve generally had good luck with them, though I’ve never used Roomorama specifically (I’m a frequent Airbnb user).

    • Emily in Chile says:

      Most people I know have had great experiences, so I definitely think we were just unlucky. Considering that I don’t think apartments are my preferred accommodation of choice though, I’m happy to take one for the team if it means getting the requisite bad one out of the way so my friends can keep having good luck!

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