Earlier this year, I booked an apartment with a good friend in New Orleans through Airbnb, right off Bourbon Street. Not only did it cost less than half of what the nearest hotel was offering, it was an overall bad-ass place as well. There’s just something really cool about living among the locals, and it didn’t have the sterility and boring-ness to it that hotels have. You would expect this kind of location & view to cost a small fortune, but it didn’t.
The more hotels you stay in, the more you realize that no matter where you go, they are all kinda the same, and they are all kinda bland. Sure, the interior is fine, and the sheets are (usually) clean, but there is not much exciting or special about them. Sometimes, that’s okay. If you want a place to crash that’s safe and clean, and you’re not looking for anything else, a hotel is what you’re looking for.
That said, in life, and especially when on vacation, it’s fun to be a little more adventurous. Enter Airbnb. You’ve probably heard about it by now. It’s basically a marketplace for property owners to rent out their places.
The process works as follows:
- The property owner lists his/hers private property on the Airbnb
- The customer finds the listing, reads positive reviews, and requests a date
- The owner approves the request, and makes sure he/she’s there to open the door & hand over the keys
- The customer stays at the place, and leaves a review afterward
- The property owner leaves a review about the customer
- Airbnb gets the vig
- Everybody’s happy
To make the process safe and comfortable for everybody, users and property owners are required to verify their identity through ID and/or their Facebook profile. Reviews work both ways; property owners can’t be dishonest about their listing without getting a bad reputation, and guests can’t demolish a place like rock-stars and get away with it.
Airbnb is unique in a variety of ways, but the slickness of their website is the first thing that jumps right at you. The accompanying phone/tablet apps are incredibly well-designed, and are prime examples of apps done right. It has never been this easy and fun to find a unique place to stay on any device, and there truly is something for everyone here. I have spent a lot of time just looking around on the site, while fantasizing about my next adventure.
Locations are all over the place. If you want to drop over a thousand a night to stay in a penthouse, you can. If you want to save money and you’re up for it, you can stay for next to nothing in the rough part of town. The variety in listings is enormous. It ranges from surprisingly cheap prime-location (you can find places for as little as 50 bucks a night in the center of Manhattan), to really fancy, to quirky and cool.
A fun feature of the website is the ability to make lists of favorites. I have a couple of private lists of dream destinations, but they can also be shared publicly, and some people have put some interesting lists together.
I will definitely use Airbnb again in the future, as the experience I’ve had with it so far has been nothing but great. There’s just something about staying in a regular place in a local neighborhood. It’s less anonymous, less boring.
In some cases, the owner will be able to show you around town if you want to. A good friend of mine stayed with his girlfriend in a designer’s apartment in Barcelona, and they got a tour of the neighborhood from the guy who owned the place. The three of them hit it off really well, and ended up going out that night and becoming friends. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen when you book a hotel.
Instead of just booking a room to crash, you’re booking a little adventure. Highly recommended.
Links to listings from photos above
New Orleans – Bywater- Hippie Bus! GLAMPING!
Las Vegas – Luxury Palms Place Penthouse
Greece – Sea View Studio for 1-3 persons
Amsterdam – Stylish houseboat for couple/family
Oregon – Takilma private room 47′ up!
Italy – Classic Yacht in Cinque Terre
Thanks for allowing me to use your photos, folks!
Photo credit: All photos with the Airbnb logo are © Airbnb and used with permission Header photo & last photo © Dick Hoebée