San Diego

Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals have exploded in popularity in recent years.  Many San Diego visitors are opting for freestanding or attached guest houses, villas, cottages, apartments, condos or timeshares for as little as one or two nights, or extending a week or more.   More and more, travelers want all the comfort and privacy of home, like a full kitchen, in-home entertainment, a pool, laundry facilities, a living room, and multiple bedrooms when a large party may be on different schedules.

The most well-known vacation rental operations are  Vrbo and Airbnb. There’s also a site called HiChee that lets you search both platforms and several independent companies that keep an inventory you can peruse at any time.  Travel agencies have also added vacation rentals to their range of offerings, so it might be possible for you to work with an agent you’ve known for a long time if you want to go the rental route.

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s a smart idea to go with a property that’s professionally managed.

You’ll rent with greater confidence with an established outfit and the process will be standardized, meaning less surprises for you along the way.  In many cases, you’ll also have access to a 24-hour concierge in case an emergency pops up.  Some higher-end rentals also offer a concierge service for restaurant reservations and events. 

A professionally managed rental will also have a standardized baseline level of services, such as professionally cleaned premises, towels, and linens, and a written guarantee that everything will be in working order when you check-in.  In the vast majority of cases, these are built into the rental rate, but sometimes they’ll be tacked on so be sure you ask about any junk or reservation fees, or a damage waiver fee you might end up paying.

“By owner” rentals are another way to go.  Many have been renting their properties for years and have built up a great online reputation bolstered by a lot of positive reviews.  There are some limitations when you go this route, you’ll often find the owners are great resources for insider information for hotspots, restaurants and places only known to locals.

When you’re in the process of renting make sure you ask about the maximum number of guests that are allowed and whether you can have a party or special event at your rental.  In 2021, Airbnb temporarily banned parties in its homes and in 2022 it made the ban permanent. That resulted in a policy that guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb may not make a one-night reservation.

Other things to avoid are sneaking your pet along for the vacation, smoking inside the premises if its prohibited, and ignoring parking restrictions.  The bottom line is “behave!” or you could be creating a bunch of trouble for yourself.

Be sure to pay close attention to a potential rental’s location so you don’t wind up in a bad neighborhood, and don’t go on photos alone which are always slanted to make the property look as appealing as possible.  And finally, read the fine print on the cancellation policy so you don’t get stuck paying fees for something you never were able to enjoy.