March 31, 2014

Introducing: The Airbnb Around the World series

It was nearly 3 long years ago that I took the first Airbnb experience.

We were headed to New York City. Bed bugs were running rampant in the hotels. Hostels were so expensive...even the 10 bed dorm rooms. It was summer in the city and we wanted a neat place. What to do, what to do.

We had heard of this great San Francisco based startup company before. A website where you can rent out your apartment to fellow travelers. Or maybe a spare bedroom. Or even a couch.

Would it be...weird to stay in someone's place? I mean what if they are sleeping there at the same time? Looking back at our travel experiences, our favorite moments were always when locals were involved: showed us around, chatted with us, dined with us, hung out with us.

Then we got to thinking about how cool it would be to stay in an apartment during our trip to NYC. We put it together and voila! Soon I had signed up for Airbnb, created my profile and bid on our first Airbnb: a room in a German guy's apartment a stone's throw from Central Park. At only $60 per night, it was a steal. And as fate would have it he accepted us!!

Right around the corner from the subway, a short stroll to the Museum of Natural History and a couple blocks away from the world's best garlic bagels with garlic cream cheese (Absolute Bagel, I love you). Our Airbnb host was Claudio. His spotless apartment had stripes on the wall, a/c, our own set of keys so we could come and go when we please and a random picture of Audrey Hepburn here and there.

We were hooked then and there. Ever since our first ever Airbnb experience, we have vowed to always use Airbnb whenever possible. Since that wonderful trip, we have put quite a few Airbnb experiences under our belts: a small studio in a canalhouse in Amsterdam, a cute apartment in Lisbon's old quarter, two apartments in Iceland and most recently a honeymoon villa in Bali and a teeny, tiny room in Hong Kong.

I absolutely love the Airbnb concept. And it's not just the concept I love...

1. The apartments/houses can be cool...some are really, really cool. A SF apartment with a skeeball and arcade game inside? Treehouses in the Pacific Northwest? Castles in Ireland? Houseboats in Amsterdam? Beach cottages in Venice Beach? Villas in Bali, Italy or France? Airbnb even throws together their very own themed wish lists! Like 'glamping' (luxury camping), surfer retreats, the best ski chalets, and the list goes on and on.

2. Airbnb is often cheaper than hotels (and hostels!). We saved atleast $100 per night (in a nice place) by staying in a New Yorker's Airbnb.

3. Local perspective and some great hospitality! One of our Airbnb hosts in Iceland provided breakfast for us. Another host left us a bottle of wine if we could change the sheets for the next Airbnb-er. Some leave maps and restaurant suggestions. Airbnb even offers Neighborhood Guides for the World's biggest and well-known cities.

4. While you can rent a private room or a shared room, you can also rent the entire house/apartment. Staying somewhere long-term? Enjoy the convenience of your own kitchen and a nice little home away from home.

I could go on and on and I cannot recommend Airbnb high enough. Not to mention, after you've used Airbnb a few times, they will send you Airbnb coupons to discount your next stay (I got one for $25!).

I've decided to share our Airbnb experiences we love so much and start a small series on the blog: Airbnb Around the World.

I'll kick off my first post soon but here's a small ode to our previous trips with Airbnb!

*Thanks Claudio! Love your Central Park apartment and stripes on the walls...thanks for being our first Airbnb!*

*Our Lisbon, Portugal, apartment was the perfect location for those late night wanderings around the old town and summer Portuguese street parties.*

*Our stays in Akureyri and Reykjavik were the perfect-sized apartments for our Icelandic roadtrippin' foursome.*

I can only hope that these experiences will encourage any fellow travelers out there to give Airbnb a try, you won't regret it! Here's how to get started.

Any fellow Airbnb-ers out there? Where'd you stay? How did you like your experience?


Georgia said...

Love airbnb, and I've used it quite a few times on out cross-country road trips and visiting Delaware last summer. Unfortunately sometimes the hidden fees make the costs about on par with a hotel, it really seems to depend on the area. But you're right- a cool place is a cool place!

Shannon at One Tea, One Coffee said...

We've used Air BnB in Norway, Croatia, Denmark, and the Netherlands. All great experiences and all fun opportunities to meet some locals. I would totally do it again!

Rachelllll said...

Love AirBnb!! It has definitely allowed my husband and I to travel in Europe/do more while we are there with saving so much vs. hotel costs. Plus, we wouldn't have it any other way. You get to know local people who really know the city, and you can walk away with a friend in a foreign country when you leave! My husband and I have used AirBnb a total of 13 times in Europe. We have used it once in Berlin, Prague, Barcelona, Madrid, London, Lisbon, Paris, Rome, Florence and 4 times in Amsterdam! We have had some much more amazing than others, but they have all been good experiences. Oh, and just to share this, out of all the times we have used it we have not once experienced a 'hidden fee' so I don't think it is a common thing.
Rachel, is there anyway to share the link to your apartment near Central Park in NYC? I clicked on the link you have posted but it doesn't take you directly to the posting, just to NYC. Thinking about going later this year again and would love to check that place out!

Love your blog :)