Tripologist: Avoid apartment rip-offs in the Big Apple

Strict renting rules ... New Yor City.
Strict renting rules ... New Yor City. Photo: Getty Images

We are planning a minimum 10-day stay in New York in May and wish to stay in a two-bedroom apartment/hotel. Can you suggest a reliable and trustworthy source? We are concerned about rumours that NYC apartment letting is rife with poor practices and rip-offs. What is NewYorkStay.com or onefinestay.com like as a source?
- D. Heaney, O'Connor, ACT

Short-term apartment rentals violate New York City laws and building regulations and have been illegal since May 1, 2011. There are some exceptions; for example in an owner-occupied building with fewer than four apartments including the owner's, but the city has become known for shonky apartment rentals that leave visitors short changed.

Plenty of visitors still do hire apartments all over the city and many will have a satisfying experience, but there is a risk.

Part of the danger is that if you rent an apartment from a private owner, you are possibly flying under the legal radar, with no recourse should things not go according to plan. Apartment-style hotels are perfectly legal however and Radio City Apartments, the Hotel Beacon, the Salisbury Hotel and the Millburn Hotel are potential candidates.

Another option that might work for you is found at bedandbreakfast.com, which has many lodgings in Manhattan and surrounds, usually at better prices than similar hotel accommodation.

 

A jam-packed Italian sojourn

My wife and I would like to stop over in Rome en route to London in May. We thought we might catch a train to Sorrento and return, then hire a car, drive up the coast to Cinque Terre, stopping overnight somewhere interesting in between, then a loop to Florence, Sienna and back to Rome. We have 10 to 12 days. Does this sound practical?
- D. Smith, Chiswick

This sounds perfectly feasible. You can travel from Rome to Sorrento in just over two hours if you choose the express rail service between Rome and Naples, then take the local Circumvesuviana rail service to Sorrento. The one questionable aspect is where you might stop for the night on the 4½-hour drive from Rome to the Cinque Terre since this part of the coast is not overly endowed with beauty spots.

Rather than picking up your hire car in Rome and coping with the city's traffic, you might consider continuing by train to Pisa and pick up your car there. Pisa is relatively close to the Cinque Terre, the train from Rome takes three hours and you should be able to avoid paying one-way charges on your hire car.

 

Bodrum Peninsula - a Turkish delight

We will be finishing a small group, whirlwind tour of Turkey in Istanbul in May. What are your suggestions for a not-too-expensive 10-day holiday in the region? Happy to go anywhere so long as it's a bit restful. We return to Australia from Istanbul.
- L. Swann, Newcastle

You're packing quite a lot into your 10-day tour so some rest and relaxation is called for, and the sweet spot is the Bodrum Peninsula, lapped by the languid waters of the Aegean. Unlike parts of the coast to the east, Bodrum's beaches are second rate, which is the region's saving grace since this has saved the peninsula from the resort developments that blight much of the Turkish coastline.

My pick would be somewhere near the town of Yalikavak, a pretty village built around a small harbour with a 300-year-old windmill to one side, located on the north-west corner of the peninsula. There's plenty to do here, including some lovely walks, boat trips, visits to local markets and exploring other coastal villages. If you want a change of scene, Bodrum Express Lines operates a ferry and hydrofoil service from the town of Bodrum to the nearby Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes.

Check Venere for hotels and expect to pay about $120-$200 a night for a room in mid-May. The 4 Reasons gets plenty of good reviews and the rate on Venere is at the lower end of that price range.

At the other end, Sandima 37 is another good choice. A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant should cost about $25, but you can dine well for just a few dollars if you buy from local markets.

Bodrum, the main city in the region, is the site of the ancient city of Halikarnassus. Buses are the cheapest way to get there from Istanbul. The bus takes about 12 hours. You can also fly to Bodrum-Milas airport, 35 kilometres from Bodrum. Check Tom Brosnahan's handy Turkey Travel Planner for more information.

 

Bali has it all for children

We are hoping to take a one- to two-week holiday midyear to somewhere in the Asia-Pacific with our three-year-old and are looking for suggestions. We do not specifically want a resort holiday but we are past backpacking. Our son is happy and tolerant, so some travelling is not a huge issue.
- R. Dale, Melbourne

Asia-Pacific is a chunky bit of real estate with a lot of family friendly options. But considering your midyear time slot, I'm putting Bali in pole position. Bali is a pain-free flight with just a two-hour time change, prices are highly competitive provided you avoid the school holiday period, it's child friendly, there are plenty of activities for all tastes and it delivers a valuable shot of midwinter warmth.

You might divide your time between the beach and another location inland. Stay away from Kuta but Seminyak or Legian would be happy choices for a one-week stay. Top that off with another week somewhere around Ubud and your holiday is in top shape, with plenty of time for massages, shopping, exploring the local villages and lounging around in Cafe Lotus.

You might want to stay somewhere on the fringes of Ubud rather than right at the heart, which is noisy and frequently snarled with traffic. Temperatures will be high so plan your activities for the relatively cool hours of early morning and evening, with a few hours around the pool in the middle of the day.

 

Everyone asks ...

What are the health precautions for third-world travel?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The state of your  health, where you're going, how long you're staying  and what you're doing there are just some of the factors that will determine the answer. You can get a good idea of the precautions you need to take if you head for the Travelers' Health page on the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website. This site gives  a country specific rundown of the potential health hazards, the preparations you need to make, recommended vaccinations and medications you might require. Next, make an appointment with a specialist travellers' health clinic such as the Travel Doctor or Travel Vaccination Health Care. Located in all state capitals, plus Canberra and several major regional cities, these private medical centres can check your fitness and health, supply all the immunisations and medications  you'll need, and  set you up with a medical kit for the areas you're visiting.

 

If you have travel questions, we'd love to hear from you. Include the name of your suburb or town and send it to tripologist101@gmail.com. Personal correspondence cannot be entered into. Only questions appearing in print will be answered. One published letter each week will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.

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