Renting a vacation home, villa or apartment at the beach or in the mountains is a popular way for families to travel. However, try looking for a family friendly place to stay in a metropolitan area, and the choices are few. Stay Alfred is changing all of that.
In 2011, CEO Jordan Allen launched his company focused on 1, 2 and 3 bedroom vacation rentals in some of America’s most interesting cities. Currently in 12 cities, families can explore state capitols, see major sporting events, attend concerts, visit museums, play in city parks, hike and bike along urban rivers and lakes, and in some places even kayak and canoe in these urban wonderlands. A three-night minimum is the norm, but shouldn’t be a problem. I have yet to visit a city that can be experienced well in less than three days.
Stay Alfred accommodations are currently located in Boston, Dallas, Denver, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
The balance of togetherness and privacy of an apartment vacation rental is appealing for families. Letting children stay in their own hotel room in a major city makes parents nervous. Sleeping with children in the same hotel room for a week makes parents crazy. Having space to spread out and relax together in an apartment, while maintaining the privacy of separate sleeping areas really works. Add grandma and grandpa or a nanny to the family travel mix, and a hotel is impossible, but an apartment is workable.
Saved by the Kitchen
Access to a kitchen saves time and money when attempting to feed a family or large group. Going out to dinner with two to four people is a treat. Walking into a restaurant with five people or more, three meals a day for a week’s vacation is a bit less appealing. Eating in doesn’t have to be boring when vacationing. Shopping at the local farmer’s market provides options for fresh, local food. I always pack a bit of olive oil and some herbs, so I can season anything fresh and local.
The washer and dryer are my favorite amenities of a vacation apartment rental. Encouraging my family to pack like minimalists, we wash and repeat each day. It gives us more room in the car and keeps our rental apartment neater. It also lessens the laundry when we get home. Catching up on laundry is usually the buzz kill of this mother’s vacation.
On my Stay Alfred stay in Nashville, I had the choice of five apartments in four buildings. The apartments gave me options of being right in the middle of the action or in Germantown, on the edge of the city. I chose Germantown, overlooking Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, and walking distance to the Nashville Farmer’s Market. I was still able to walk to most major attractions. Lots of sightseeing during the day meant I wanted to come back to a quiet atmosphere in the evenings.
Had I been doing an intense music tour of Nashville, the Stay Alfred apartment in the city center would have been the best choice. It was walking distance to many of the music venues and convenient for walking home late at night.
Teaching Children to Travel
When my children were young, I loved taking them on adventures in cities. They experienced geography, history and culture, and often commented how they knew the answer a teacher asked in class not because they read about it in a book, but because they experienced it on a trip.
With 12 Stay Alfred urban location options, planning a family city vacation once a year means the kids grow up before you’ve explored every possibility. Teach them well, and they will continue to travel with you as adults. They will also become the trip leaders and continue to explore the world with their friends. A Stay Alfred apartment is also a great way for a group of twenty or thirty-somethings to pitch in on a city weekend.
Unique or Predictable?
I go back and forth with the pros and cons of finding a unique, one of a kind place to stay and establishing loyalty and predictability with a consistent product. The Stay Alfred apartments are in a variety of metropolitan apartment buildings and amenities such as fitness facilities, pools, rooftop decks and parking may vary. The apartments are consistent in that they are modernly furnished, with ample kitchen equipment to do more than warm up restaurant leftovers.
Guest comfort and security is a priority, and you will not be tip toeing around an owner’s belongings, as you sometimes do when renting an AirBnB, where city dwellers often rent their personal apartments when they are away. Don’t get me wrong, I love the personal touch of renting a private residence when I am traveling alone or in a party of two. But, in a Stay Alfred Apartment, I don’t feel the need to be yelling, “don’t touch that!” at every turn. The apartments are clean and void of other people’s personal items.
A Different Kind of Check In and Check Out
Check in is different from a hotel. Stay Alfred booking is online. Following the written instructions sent via the confirmation email is critical. Printing it and taking it with you is also helpful, just in case your phone dies.
I suggest checking in before dark. On my stay with Stay Alfred in Nashville, I didn’t do this. Sneaking around a residential apartment building in the dark made me feel like a creeper. I eventually found my apartment, and once inside I quickly felt like a local resident and began living like one. There are no parties allowed, and this rule is strictly enforced. Yet, another reason why this is a great way for a family to travel. A local hospitality team is a phone call away if you need them, to handle any emergency maintenance issues. Most likely, you will never see them.
Parking in a city is no picnic, whether you stay at a hotel or an apartment. Don’t assume parking is included or available close by. Ask specific questions so you understand what your options are. The good news about a city vacation is that once you are checked in and unloaded, chances are you will not need to get in your car until you are ready to go home.
Flying to a destination and taking a cab, Uber or mass transit to your apartment is very easy when your destination is a city. Being walkable to sights of interest is a huge benefit of living the city life. It is also a great way to teach kids how to use mass transit. Looking at maps, watching for signs, and purchasing subway tokens are not activities suburban kids learn without an inner city experience.
When my children ventured off into the world of Study Abroad programs, I did not worry that they would get lost, because I knew we had trained them to navigate in a city. Once you can navigate in one city, you can learn to get around in any city in the world.
Stay Alfred is a Plus for International Travelers
For international travelers traveling with a family or small group, I suggest looking at a map and marking the cities where there are Stay Alfred properties. Then, plan an itinerary. Stay Alfred offers a 10% discount for return travelers, and a 3% discount for balances paid 30 days in advance. Planning ahead can save money.
There is rich, diverse culture to be found in all twelve cities where Stay Alfred apartments are found. International travelers often make it to our coasts, as in New York, Los Angeles, and Florida. But, there is so much more to see deep within our borders. Stay Alfred has carefully chosen some of the most interesting places in America to attract its guests.
Finding a method of traveling that works for a group of traveling companions is half the battle. Once you learn how to stay together, it makes it much more enjoyable to play together.
When Victoria unpacks her suitcase, she calls Dublin, Ohio home, where she lives with her husband John.Born in Los Angeles, California, Vicky’s family moved frequently, including stops in Wisconsin, England, Florida, Boston, Washington DC and Saudi Arabia. Vicky spent a summer term studying at St. Andrews University in Scotland.
She holds a B.S. in Communications from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Victoria welcomes your comments at VictoriaHartTheWriter@gmail.com
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