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I am still in vacation mode. I just got back from a very fun road trip where I stayed in zero hotels. Instead, my boyfriend Brent and I used AirBnB, a service that allows people to violate their leases in a number of different ways!
AirBnB is a really cool idea. Instead of hotels, people list either a room in their house or an entire apartment. But, unlike hotels, you end up dealing with the idiosyncrasies of people who want to make a little money on the side. Overall, I liked it, and I would do it again, but I’d do a few things very differently.
The people who rent out their homes to perfect strangers are very nice. That makes sense. There’s a lot of trust on both sides of this arrangement.
You stay in people’s homes. They don’t even lock up the booze!
We met only one of the three hosts. She had a loft, with a bedroom and a huge bathroom, with a giant bathtub. There was no kitchen, which was fine (and advertised).
In fact, all three places we stayed were exactly as advertised. Quiet and clean. Some had little snacks, some had coffee. Every place was in a fun neighborhood, which was perfect. We explored places we had no real reason to get to know, which was so fun! In Victoria, we found a neighborhood filled with coffee shops, organic food, and old people. It was on Cook Street, Cait. Don’t know the name.
Prices were less than hotels, sometimes significantly so.
Nudity. Nekkid pictures were on two out of the three places, and they were all over the third place. If you’re new here, I am a prudish grandmother, so this bothered me more than it bothered Brent.
Cleanliness was sometimes less than what I’d do for strangers, but nothing was super gross, although Brent did ask once if I wanted flip flops for the shower.
Lessons for Next Time
AirBnB is not a hotel. It is a website. A conduit between people who want to stay in places and people who have places. You don’t actually want to book rooms until you talk to someone.
AirBnB charges a booking fee. What does this mean? It means that you pay $12 a night even if you back out of your reservation. So, ask the important questions before booking. The important questions include: Is there a kitchen? Is the room really an apartment? Will you have time to clean the place? How close is it to public transportation? To downtown?
Read ads. Carefully. Notice what they’re not saying by having only a few pictures.
Would I use AirBnB Again?
Yes, absolutely. But not the same way I did before. I’ll really check the neighborhoods, scour the reviews, look at the pictures, read the descriptions, and if there’s some sort of discrepancy, I’ll send an email.
And you know what? I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough to stay with a stranger.
Never say never, right? But it was strange enough to be around someone else’s stuff, let alone be a guest in their home.