I'm searching for an apartment for four nights in Lisbon right now. The top websites for vacation apartment rentals that I'm looking at are homeaway.com, vrbo.com (owned by homeaway.com). tripadvisor.com, vacationrentals.com, and flipkey.com (owned by tripadvisor.com).
I love TripAdvisor. I never book any hotel, bed and breakfast, or apartment without looking up the reviews on TripAdvisor first. The reviews are honest and I trust TripAdvisor's recommendations. But I can't say I love their vacation apartment search function. It doesn't allow for many amenity filters, namely air conditioning. And hubby will not stay anywhere without A/C, which means I have to click on every listed property to see if it offers A/C.
And then there's one problem I have with every search site. It's the number of double v.s. twin beds - never a search filter. As I've mentioned before, my teen son and daughter would rather not sleep in a double bed together, so I do my best to find a quad with two twins. This means reading the body of text or looking at the photos for every listing.
I wish there were more rental agencies like Vacation In Paris (VIP). Besides their outstanding service and great apartments, they offer the incredibly reassuring courtesy of mailing you the apartment keys before you leave on your trip. I spoke to VIP to ask if they could recommend any apartment rental agencies similar to theirs in other parts of Europe, but they said they were not aware of any. And so remains the ever so slight trepidation of meeting a Portuguese-speaking stranger in a big, unfamiliar city to exchange cash for keys.