Long gone are the days when a 5 euro bunglaow without hot shower or aircon would count as a good choice for an accommodation on my trips. These days, I’m more likely to opt for an luxury hotel than a basic low-key hotel as, let’s face it, I’m getting older and more self-indulgent as years pass. On my holidays I do want a bit of luxury, hot shower, clean, white sheets on a soft bed and high-quality service. I’d rather skimp on the little details back at home than while traveling, during those precious moments on my adventures.
But reality struck me hard after I had booked the super-cheap flights to New York. The previous times I have visited the city have been when dollar was weak compared to the strong euro, and always during low season. A hundred euros for a four star hotel meters away from times square was normal those times, but it was different now. The hotels I had stayed in before were starting from 300euros a night. Something that I thought was a ridiculous price to pay for a room where we’d only spend time sleeping. And the rooms in other areas were no cheaper, for a bit over 200euros you could find a room in Brooklyn or Harlem, but they were far from metro stations and the rooms had already seen their best days. It started to seem like finding cheap flights would end up creating a super expensive city-break.
At some point I found myself browsing through Airbnb’s website. The service so many praised, the service that was a huge success worldwide. Many times we had considered renting a room through the service before, but always ended up booking a hotel, somehow the hotels always managed to feel like a more tempting alternative despite the high prices. And with Airbnb there were always too many what if’s – What if the apartment is nothing like described? What if the host steals your stuff? What if there will be other problems? I knew that in New York, renting an entire apartment is illegal, so what it would be like to stay in a same apartment with a complete stranger?
Soon I realized it was one of those now or never-moments. Airbnb offered several highly rated rooms for less than half the price of a low-key hotel in the area. If using the service would turn out to be a good choice, we’d be saving hundreds of euros. If not, we would not be losing much money. If the room would turn out to be a bad choice, by making it through two nights and then going to a hotel for the rest of the stay, we’d end up spending the same amount of money, even if we had to pay for all the nights for the Airbnb host.
As we basically spend every waking moment exploring the city on our city-breaks, the room would only be for sleeping. So i figured out, how bad could it be? The room I had been looking for had also been given really hundreds of good reviews, so it could not be that bad. Soon, I had booked the room for us.
A quick message to the host, a confirmation e-mail on my mailbox, a few days before the arrival a few messages back and fort – all communication was made super easy through the site and all information was easily found. Before I even noticed, I was standing outside the building in Harlem and was greeted by our host – a nice young chinese man.
The room was clean, the bed was excellent, the metro station was just a 200meter walk away. Standard amenities were provided in the apartment. Even though we shared the apartment with our host (it is illegal to rent the whole apartment in NYC), we barely saw him. And it really did not feel that weird to be sharing the apartment with a stranger. Our host was experienced and knew how to make our stay comfortable. Even though the apartment really could not compete with any 4-star hotel, we were more than happy with it and glad we dared to try Airbnb out.
All the what-if questions that filled my mind before the trip, turned out to be waste of time and energy. Everything was smooth and easy. We ended up saving hundreds of euros and getting a whole new experience as a bonus.
On the way back with even discussed that this most probably will not be the last time we will use airbnb, and before long, we also realized that we too have a spare room at home, so why not giving it a go as an airbnb host too?
Surprisingly, the whole Airbnb-experience turned out to be quite a positive one. However, I’m not saying that I’ll become a true Airbnb-fans, one that only uses the service from now on. No, I still do want that little luxury on my holidays that only high-quality hotels can provide. But in case that is not possible within reasonable price range, or I would be traveling on a budget for some reason, I’d surely be using Airbnb again.
And what about the next time I’ll be in New York, will I stay with the same host if possible? No, even though we had a pleasant experience, next time, I want to stay in a new area again.