By Stephanie Foden, Contributing Reporter
SALVADOR, BRAZIL – To rent or not to rent, that is possibly the most important question to consider before planning any trip to Salvador. With a flood of tourists heading to Bahia’s capital this upcoming high season, finding a place to stay can be difficult, but with hotel prices on the increase, other options are making themselves available.
Accommodation can fill up and prices tend to soar during New Years, Carnival and, of course, the forthcoming World Cup. In a city with a poor reputation for safety, people tend to opt for the security of a hotel or pousada (guesthouse), but holiday rentals can be less costly and offer more independence with the flexibility for guests to cook their own meals, enjoy more privacy and usually with more space.
Most of the rental availability is in the neighborhood of Barra, near to the most popular beaches, the New Years party and Carnival festivities, as well as the historic center, which is close to Fonte Nova stadium and most of the tourist attractions.
The good news for people coming from Rio is that accommodation, like most things here, is cheaper according to Dutch realtor Annemarie Claus of SunSeaRent, who primarily deal with temporary rentals.
“Prices are definitely not comparable to Rio, where they are sometimes double those here,” she explains, adding, “Of course, Rio has more of ‘the place to be’ feel than Salvador.”
Airbnb is a popular option for travelers coming to Brazil, providing a platform for people to temporarily rent their private rooms, entire apartments or houses to guests. American expat Christopher Schwarz has been using the online service for the last two years to rent out apartments.
“Airbnb is the only tool I recommend for renting now. The ability to review guests and hosts is essential,” he said. “Anyone can use it. It’s by far the most secure way of renting, as money is held until arrival, which guarantees for guest and hosts.”
There are around 1,000 different holiday rentals on the site in Salvador alone, with prices ranging from R$20 a night for an individual room to more than R$2,500 for an entire mansion.
Although Schwarz has been doing well with renting, he says that “unfortunately, Carnival has been slow for me and all my friends with hostels. I haven’t rented to anyone yet for this Carnival and my friends have much fewer confirmed reservations than usual.”
“I have had lots of requests already for Carnival and the World Cup, but not that many reservations. As always people, typically Brazilians, decide at the last minute. And of course for the World Cup, only after December 6th will we know who is coming to play in Salvador. I expect a rush after that.”
Salvador undoubtedly remains one of the must-see cities in Brazil and the next year will see a huge surge in interest, but, for the time being, affordable options remain available for those prepared to hunt around for the right price.