Choosing a reputable apartment rental agency in Barcelona isn’t too hard, but there are a few things which I think it’s only fair to point out. After all, there are good and bad hotels, but they all let you book a room! For them, you may be just another customer, but for you it is your annual vacation, a time you look forward to, and for which you have probably saved hard. Making sure you book an apartment with the right people is crucial to the success of your holiday.
The very fact that you’re considering booking an apartment for a short-term rental period of a week or two, rather than the traditional route of a hotel room, suggests that you’re already fairly wise to the growing trend for holidays booked in this way. Certainly, hotels might be easy to come by, but apartments offer far greater convenience, privacy and comfort, and often come at a price which is significantly lower per person than the charges you can expect to pay at even a poor hotel.
So what should you look for in a good apartment agent, once you have found one that you think might be suitable? The first thing I would suggest you have a quick look at their website. Don’t be too drawn in to the glitz and glamour - Barcelona has plenty of that and that’s easy to come by! The things to look out for are really all based on how well the agency seems to be focussing its information on you, the customer.
For example, how well laid out is the site? How clear are the photographs? If there are very few pictures, mostly taken from some distance away, and all exterior, that makes you wonder what the rooms are like. If the pictures are all of the rooms, that makes you wonder what the neighborhood and surroundings are like.
Of course, no pictures at all makes you wonder even more! However, pictures alone don’t tell the whole story. Are there links to maps that you can check out? These will reveal whether the apartment is sited on top of the railway station, likely to have the sea view advertised, and how conveniently situated it is in relation to those locations you’re planning to visit, such as the city center, the beach and so on.
Another thing I would strongly recommend that you do is to send the apartment rental agency in Barcelona an email. If you find this difficult, because they have hidden their contact details where they hope you won’t easily spot them, this is likely to cast a shadow of doubt over their likelihood to want to help you should things not work out as they should.
However, assuming that you can find their email address, drop them a line. It will reveal a great deal about them, both in terms of how quickly they reply, and also how effective, supportive and helpful their response. Slow response times and vague, unhelpful answers will be clear signals that the apartment rental agency in Barcelona you’re enquiring about is not the right one for you.
The most reputable agencies will clearly have their address, telephone numbers, fax numbers and any other contact details clearly displayed, and by all means, give them a call. Sometimes speaking directly with an agency can tell you within two minutes whether they sound like the sort of people with whom you would be happy to entrust the success of your holiday.
If you’re relatively new to the idea of renting an apartment in Barcelona, then one of the things which you may not know is that the law in Spain is quite specific when it comes to internet companies which are based here. The two things in particular which such companies are required to do is to publish certain legal information, which you can often find included in such pages as ‘contact us’, ‘about us’ or ‘legal terms’, and they are also required to register.
This registration will be visible to you by the inclusion of the letters S.L. or S.A being used as part of the registered company name. Look for these, and if they are not clearly visible, and if legal information is not clearly visible, then the chances are high that the company is either not based in Spain, which would be worrying, or that it is not registered, which casts grave doubts over its reliability and accountability.
I would also suggest that you ask them about reservation or prepayment fees. This is a good question to ask when you’re first establishing contact with the agency, and can be an excellent way of finding out how the agency responds to enquiries. Check with any apartment rental agency in Barcelona about cancellation fees, and where possible, try to find some testimonials. These may either be published on the website, available on request, or even submitted to one of the many independent online review sites.