What we loved most about the hostels we stayed in our younger days was the communication we had there. Meeting people, making friends and trading information was kept us coming back for more. Today we find our Airbnb Experiences provide us with all these experiences plus much more.
Some Airbnb experiences we have had.
Airbnb Experiences in New York City (2010)
Our East Village Neighbours.
An entire apartment. More of a bed-sit really. Our host John and I corresponded by email. He did offer to Skype but we did not have it installed. We arranged an approximate time to meet him at the apartment and then rang him on the way from JFK airport as the cab driver needed some local directions. We rang John again kerbside and he bounded down the stairs to open the front security doors and help carry luggage up the couple of flights of stairs to our apartment. We were 55 years young at the time and he was only 30, but the age difference did not exist – we were too busy swapping travel stories. He gave us the rundown on the best restaurants, bars and clubs in the area. As it was late afternoon when we arrived he suggested we investigate St. Mark’s Place that evening as it was a Friday and there would be plenty of action to keep us entertained. He was correct!
The apartment had a brand new stove, small fridge and limited cooking utensils, but we found that food was so cheap in New York City that we hardly ever ate in. Breakfast was the exception. The bed was in an alcove, complete with fairy lights, separate yet part of the lounge/kitchen. The bathroom with its exposed plumbing was typically tiny – a large person would have had trouble sitting on the toilet.
We definitely knew we were living in a local apartment block. Friday night was party night. Our neighbour’s bedroom adjoined ours through a thin wall – I wore ear plugs and B.H. who was earplugless, settled in for an entertaining evening. He purchased some the next day, but all was quiet from then on.
The Good. We loved living like a local in East Village. It was cheap. It was action packed. The apartment was centrally heated and had a pedestal fan and keylocked window bars.
The Bad. We had trouble working the door locks. Fairly quickly B.H. learned how to manipulate the key in the apartment door lock, but even worse was the double security entrance downstairs. Early one morning I went out by myself and got stuck in the gap between the two doors. Eventually I calmed down and worked it out.
The Suggestion. Make sure you find out the quirks and can work all the locks before your host leaves the apartment. We could have called him back but we knew he was busy and decided to work it out for ourselves.
Would we stay again? Definitely.
MONTREAL, CANADA – Our host cancelled on us 7 days out from our arrival. We were notified by Airbnb who were very supportive – offering to refund our money immediately or transfer it to another booking, with a voucher of $25 (from memory) to sweeten the deal. Eventually we asked for a refund and stayed at Auberge Alternative hostel instead.
Airbnb Experiences in Spain (2012)
Above is the view from the sidewalk cafe where we lunched with our Airbnb hostess and friend.
Private room in an Apartment. A brother and sister owned the apartment and although we dealt with the brother on-line, it was his sister who was living in the apartment. The place was huge and we felt like we had it all to ourselves, but Paula was very helpful when she was around, and if she was not around we just called her. We had lunch out with her and a friend on our first day, she rang the airline for us to sort out our lost luggage, and gave us tips on local coffee shops and sights. The kitchen was tiny but well stocked and we used it several times in the week.
The Good. Our hostess and the apartment were both lovely. Staying with a local means they can help you out. It was central and we could walk most places. It was close to the airport bus route and had a great BRACAFE coffee shop downstairs.
The Bad. Can’t think of anything.
The Suggestion. They had a lot of Airbnb references**. It is unlikely you will have a bad experience if most of the references are good.
Would we stay again? Definitely.
**Airbnb references are there for everyone to see and the host has right of reply. As the option to write a reference comes through the site automatically after you have left the accommodation, you can be sure that the comments are sincere.
LA LATINA, MADRID
Our corner of La Latina.
Entire Apartment. Once again this was more like a bedsit. The bed being in a little alcove which could be separated from the lounge/dining/kitchen by a pull across divider. The bathroom was tiny, separate, clean and well stocked. Our host was not available to meet us but a very happy pleasant man was at the apartment to buzz us in. I think he was a relative but he only spoke Spanish and we only spoke English! He managed to show us how everything worked and it was not awkward at all. The host had left extensive instructions (In English) and information for our stay. I have never before or since seen such a small apartment that had absolutely everything you could possibly need in it, including washing machine and dryer in the kitchen, as well as a full size fridge, stove and hot plates. The kitchen was well stocked and we could use whatever was in the pantry.
The Good. It was cheap. The apartment was spotlessly clean and well equipped. Having the washing machine was a bonus. The apartments were set out with a central courtyard that had clothes lines strung from one side to the other on each level. There were both stairs and a lift that had automatic Spanish voice recordings, and it was very quiet. We were part of an authentic neighbourhood.
The Bad. Situated in La Latina on the long point of a triangle drawn between Tirso de Molino and La Latina Metro Stations, it was an area I chose because of it’s quaint lanes. On arrival we walked the 6 blocks from Tirso de Molino to the apartment, and the further we walked from the Metro the less quaint the lanes became. At one stage I was sure we were being followed. Having said that, the longer we stayed and the more people we met, the more relaxed we became. Nevertheless we were more vigilant in the streets at night here, than in other place we have stayed.
The Suggestion. Pay attention to references. From memory there were some that mentioned the area being a little worrying, but they had experienced no actual problems either. I do think that staying here added to our experience of Madrid.
Would we stay again? No – We would try somewhere else next time, if only to experience something different.
The Plaza view from our Airbnb apartment in Cordoba, Spain.
Entire Apartment. As usual with Airbnb, Jose our host had given us directions to the unit. We caught bus 3 from the train station and four stops and a ten minute walk later we were ringing the bell on our apartment block. We were a little unsure exactly what we would end up with as there were several different apartment options, but we were super impressed by our spacious two bedroom apartment with cool to the touch tiles underfoot (it was 35 degrees outside). We had a view of the lovely plaza below through our french shutter doors and tiny balcony, but Jose suggested it would be cooler if we left the shutters closed during the day.
The Good. Our host was offended that we were only spending one day in Cordoba but helped us plan our time there regardless. The apartment was perfectly situated in the middle of all the action of the old quarter. He let us leave our luggage in his apartment the next day while we continued our exploration of Cordoba.
The Bad. The bar across the street had it’s outdoor drinking area below our apartment, so it was noisy quite late into the night and then a very noisy garbage truck emptied the multiple garbage bins that were located in the square directly below our window early the next morning.
Suggestion. These things were reported in the references. You just have to make a judgement call.
Would we stay again? We were happy with our one night stay because of the superb location, fantastic apartment and helpful host. If the bins were only emptied once or twice a week I would definitely stay again.
Looking down from our front balcony, Sevilla, Spain
Private Room in Apartment. Located at the skinny end of Jardines de Murillo, the apartment stood above courtyard restaurants. It had a balcony that overlooked the park and we were steps away from the intricate laneways of Santa Cruz, the old Jewish Quarter.
The Good. Fantastic location. Beautiful setting. We could have cooked and eaten in the tiny kitchen or walked downstairs to the restaurants below. Our young hostess was friendly and helpful, telling us of a great place to watch flamenco for free. Late at night after the restaurants closed we could open the huge windows above our bed and let the cool night air fall on us while we star watched.
The Bad. The weather gave a summer preview a couple of months early and caught everyone unawares. 42 degrees at 7.45 pm in April, with not even a fan, meant we were very hot in our room. Our hostess had not been in the apartment during summer before and was as concerned as we were. She immediately began making enquiries about installing A/c and fans. The kitchen clatter and fumes directly below our bedroom meant we could not open our windows until the restaurant slowed down at night.
Suggestion. Take note of whether there are air-con/fans/heating. Take your lifestyle into consideration – If you were a night owl the heat would not have been a problem.
Would we stay again? The hostess was looking at air-conditioning and I am sure would have either that or fans by now. If so or the weather was different we would definitely stay here again.
Airbnb Experiences in 2015
In 2015 we continued using Airbnb. We’ve introduced staying with the host in their apartment rather than having our own apartment. This alleviates the problem of non-availability of normal rental apartments for the residents of a city. A bonus is we have realised that we love staying with Airbnb hosts. They are wonderful friendly people who share their knowledge and opinions freely and add so much to our travel experience.
In 2015 we used Airbnb on the Amalfi Coast, Salerno, Giardini-Naxos, Modica, Palermo and Trapani in Italy as well as Zagreb, Zadar and Vis and Hvar Islands in Croatia.
By using Airbnb we know we will have an affordable, original and authentic experience and that afterall is why we travel.
Come and visit!