Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Better than a hotel? - Airbnb

After discussing Airbnb website many times on-air, I decided to try the service.  I am back and forth from San Francisco a lot these days, so  I wanted to give up the hotel living and get a more “homey” feel. A while back I booked my first place on Airbnb.  The gist: Airbnb.com allows you to book a person’s home or apartment.  The service is available in over 16k cities and 190 countries worldwide.  You can even rent an island, a boat, a castle or a mushroom dome (all of which at some point I intend on trying after a successful first stay).  But, the service definitely has its pros and cons.  

Mushroom Dome - courtesy of Airbnb
"Rentable" Island - Courtesy of Airbnb

Staying Options.
There are quite a few places to choose from.  In bigger cities, there is obviously more options.


I also like that you can read guest and owner reviews.  Really takes the creepy out of trying to sublet from a random on Craigslist.

It can be cheaper than a hotel.

Example: I booked a nice studio for $100 a night.   Even your own private island can be as little as $350/nite (bug spray not included).

Each owner shows a calendar of availability which is great for last minute travelers like myself.

You have to get the keys from the owner.
This can be a timely chit chat I simply don’t want to deal with and now makes me realize something I LOVE about hotels - check in, get key card, see ya later.  Plus, during a stay in SF, I was late to check in because the previous couple had asked for a late check out.  I was on a deadline and was forced to work off a hotspot for the next hour in my car till the place was available.  Annoying.

You are totally in someone’s space.
In the studio apartment I was renting, I felt like neighbors were like, “Um, who the heck is this girl?” I also quickly learned that the high school boy in the apartment next door loves to practice playing the tuba every night.  OMGEEZ- so painful.  I heard the same 3 chords for like an hour straight.

I like my little shampoo bottles and blow dryer.  It feels weird opening someone’s cabinet and searching for the conveniences you expect.  Had to buy a lot of these which added up.

Airbnb Service.
I wanted to extend my stay and it was a hassle to figure out online.  The staff was always quick to respond but never exactly answered my question.  I ended up having to pay the owner through PayPal which voids any Airbnb insurance should something happen during my stay.  Not cool.

Misleading Photos.
Also, the kind owner apologized immediately for the place looking smaller than the online photos.  She noted Airbnb came and took their own photos.  It did indeed look way smaller, but as a New Yorker, I didn’t mind this at all –just found it rather crafty on Airbnb’s part.

I would use the service again for a sublet and like I mentioned to rent something unique like a castle.  But for 1-2 night stays I'll save myself the small talk and keep the hotel life with shower cap.


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  3. I just stayed at 2 airbnb places in France, and I have to say that the pictures are pretty misleading, not only about the size but about the newness/cleanliness of the places. One place we stayed in was tiny and pretty old (it had cockroaches, the toilet gurgled every 20 minutes and sounded like it was going to explode!, and the bathroom smelled of something unidentifiable but definitely not cool). But the pictures taken by airbnb photographers make it look like a large and new/clean place. Definitely misleading, buyer beware!!!



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