This is part one of a two-part, review of Wimdu.com. I was provided with a voucher for the purpose of reviewing their services during my stay in Lima, Peru. All opinions are my own. Click here to read part two.
After traveling around the world for 15 months, I was certifiably burnt out on hostels. The lack of privacy, the noise, the revolving door of new personalities.
The final straw was a Colombian girl who tried to rob me blind while I was at staying at a Medellin hostel. After that, I immediately found a room to rent through a friend, and spent five relaxing months with an apartment I could call home.
Now that I've turned traveling the world into a full-time job, I'm looking for ways to balance the need to keep moving, with the desire for creature comforts, privacy, and the security of my belongings.
Wimdu is a new, short term apartment rental site that connects property owners around the world with holiday and business travelers. They invited me to try their services earlier in the year, however I wanted to wait until I was traveling again.
Today I'm leaving the mountains of Huaraz for the beaches of Lima, where I thought it'd be fun to give Wimdu a try.
This is the first time I've used an apartment rental site, so I'm curious to see how this turns out.
I've been couchsurfing for five years, but as much as I love that community, I'm increasingly interested in having a private place to call my own, whether that's for one week, or one year.
The Search Process
Earlier this week, I began scouring Wimdu's listings for apartments in Lima.
Getting started is as easy as entering your destination, preferred check-in and check-out dates, and number of guests in the search box on the home page.
A simple way to search, and a clean design, made the process of reviewing apartments a pleasure.
The results are displayed according to recommendations, however you can also sort them by price and distance (from the location you entered).
I sorted by price, and then used additional filters in the left column to further refine results.
For Room Type I selected “Entire Home/Apartment”, for Neighborhood I picked the trendy “Miraflores” and under Amenities I checked “Wireless Internet”.
The results update accordingly, and there's a little Google map in the upper left corner with numbered markers that correspond to the available properties.
From this view, I began checking out the individual properties. As always, titles play an important role, and I found myself gravitating toward an apartment entitled “Jacuzzi with ocean view”.
As you can see in the screenshot above, you get all the vital info nicely laid out for each listing.
A tabbed horizontal navigation lets you see an overview of the apartment, made up of photos. By the way, is that a rooftop infinity pool I see in the bottom right?
The Calendar tab is a visual display of the apartment's availability. The Map shows where in the city it's located, and the Amenities tab is self-explanatory.
Along the right side, you've got the price, and some basic info about the property, and renters' policies.
Below the property details is a Host box which indicates the owner's response rate, and a field where you can type your questions to him/her. If the owner puts together a good listing, you probably won't have many questions.
Further down, there's more space for additional information about the apartment. For this property, the owner mentions a tax is not included in the cost, the need for the renter to inspect the apartment upon arrival (for damages), and the amount of the required security deposit ($150).
The Booking Process
After reviewing a bunch of similar apartments, I ultimately settled on the apartment in downtown Lima with the rooftop jacuzzi.
When I clicked the “Book It” button, a pop-up appeared with a default inquiry written to the host inquiring about the availability. I think this is optional, as I didn't get the pop-up on at least one other property for which I clicked the booking button.
I sent the message, and heard back from the host via a message in the Wimdu system confirming the apartment's availability for my preferred dates.
Wimdu's messaging system doesn't allow you to include contact information in the messages until the apartment has been booked and paid for. I'm guessing this is a security feature.
With the green light from the host, I was then able to book the apartment. I was happy to see PayPal as a payment option, in addition to major credit cards like Visa.
Again, the easier a site or service can make my life (in this instance, the payment process), the more likely I am to continue using them.
Once the payment was made, I received another message from the host. We each had a few questions for one another, and we set up a time to meet at the building where I'll provide the security deposit in exchange for the keys to my one-week bachelor pad in Lima's most popular neighborhood.
So far, I've found Wimdu's site and service easy to use. The next test will be when I go to meet the host, get the keys, and check out the property in person.
Will it live up to the photos in the listing? And just how nice is that ocean view from the rooftop jacuzzi?
Stay tuned to find out.