For our trip to LA, we tried something new called AirBNB. We were working with a tight budget and a tight time table, so we pulled the trigger and tried renting a home for the trip on the world's most accessible owner-initiated vacation rental site.
If you've never heard of AirBNB, take a minute to check out the site. Basically, it is a hub for people to list spaces and rent spaces. You could list a room in your home, the entire house, your beach condo, second house in the mountains--you name it. Then I can go in and rent the space nightly like a hotel.
We have known several friends to use Air BNB with positive experiences, and since hotels in LA aren't exactly cheap, we decided to go ahead and take the plunge to save a few pennies. We also wanted a place with a kitchen so we could save cash on eating out.
We rented this adorable 2 bed bungalow in a small suburb close to the beach. I drove the 1.5 miles to the beach a few mornings and enjoyed the lovely views, and we felt a little more like locals and less like tourists having our own little house to go home to! I thought I would share our experience for future travelers hoping to use Air BNB!
Overall, it was a good one! We had a great host. He showed us around the house and made sure we had everything we needed before handing over the keys. He was gracious and accommodating. The house was clean and had all the essentials. The only complaint we had about the space was that it didn't have air conditioning, and we were there on some of the hottest days of the year. Usually the weather doesn't call for AC, and our 1920s bungalow would have been perfectly comfortable, but when it's 85 and barely breezy, the inside temperature can quickly climb to sweaty heights. After our stay, our host mentioned he will buy a portable AC unit for future guests to use. Again, such an accommodating host! There was no way for him to control this, or for us to know that we were booking a sauna, because, you know, God controls the weather, and we were just the first airbnb guests to visit when it was toasty outside. So here are the Quarles pros and cons for Air BNB:
Pros- You can get more space for less dough. This would be especially awesome if you were splitting the space with other friends. - There are some pretty awesome places to stay. - It is an easy way to get a kitchen without splurging on a fancy hotel suite if you are wanting to be able to cook meals on your trip. - No hotel fees or taxes. Although there is a small airbnb service charge, and some hosts can request a cleaning fee or security deposit, so just check that before you finish booking. - Locations all over the place!
Cons - Renting with AirBNB could be like biting into an apple...you could get something not so awesome. We got lucky, though! It was exactly as it looked in photos. - You won't experience the same conveniences as a hotel. No daily maid service, no continental breakfast, etc. - There is a bit of post-trip clean up involved. We took about an hour on our last morning there to wipe the counters, do the dishes, make the bed, pick everything up, and get it looking almost as good as we found it in order to be considerate guests. At a hotel, you just leave.
Tips for the traveler: - Read reviews before you go! Reading the experiences of other travelers will help you weed out the less-than-desirable spots and find the perfect place for you! - Contact the host before you book. After you request to book, the host can deny you if they don't want you staying there, so it's good to be nice, and it's also good to feel out the host a little bit and ask a few questions. I contacted three different hosts to ask questions about their properties before we decided to book. - Bring a Thank You card or some small gift to thank your host for opening up their home! Yes, you are paying them to stay there, but it is still courteous. Also, your host can rate you as a guest as well, so you want to make a good impression. - Clean up after yourself. I'm not talking dusting and spot cleaning, but just make sure the place looks presentable and not like a frat house. Just sayin. Again, common courtesy and the golden rule and all that stuff. - Be flexible. With a Hilton or a Marriott, what you expect is generally what you get. Any less and you can complain, but with airbnb, you may get there and realize they don't have enough towels or the water pressure stinks or (in our case) there is no AC and it is 88 degrees inside the house. Go with it. Turn on some fans and open up the windows. You didn't stay at the Marriott, and this is an adventure. So would we do it again? Eh. It depends. It didn't make or break our trip. We felt pretty neutral about it. If we were going on a vacation with another couple or with our families, we would definitely look into it because it is so economical, and it is fun to stay at vacation rental type places like that anyways. For the two of us, I kinda missed the huge fluffy king sized bed and the maid service of a hotel, but for the price, and to have a kitchen, it was a good deal.
So there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know or never cared about AirBNB.