We’ve heard a lot of talk over the last year or so about Airbnb, and how it can be a great alternative for travelers. We had browsed around a few different destinations over the last year, but could never quite find the right place at the right time. However during our recent (and last minute) trip to New York City for the holidays, we finally got our chance to experience Airbnb.
What is Airbnb?
Airbnb has been around since 2008. It is an online marketplace that connects travelers with unique places to stay, as well as providing a way for owners to rent out extra space; whether it is a spare room or an entire home! There are all kinds of accommodations available, for about any price point. The wide range of options suit every kind of traveler; from renting entire castles, beach homes, a villa in Tuscany, or maybe just an affordable room for the night in a big city.
The company emphasizes trust & security. All hosts have an ID that is verified and connected to social media accounts. Detailed profiles are created for each host and reviews are confirmed (actual people who stayed), becoming a valuable way to build an online reputation of a host. It also provides a comfort to hear directly from people who have already stayed there. You are also able to correspond with the host in advance, and payments are secured through Airbnb’s website.
Airbnb Accommodations in the NYC Area
Our plan to visit New York City was very last minute, and it was around the holidays. So hotels (and even hostels) in the areas we wanted to stay were either booked up or outrageously expensive! The airfare we purchased was on sale for quite cheap, so we were wanting to keep our accommodations inexpensive as well, since it was an unplanned trip. After getting a little frustrated at our options, we decided to check Airbnb and get $35 Free towards our stay.
We plugged in our dates into their website and selected our destination, and indicated whether we had a preference for a private room, shared room, or an entire private residence (in this case, we didn’t have a preference). Immediately we were presented with thousands of rental options! To help narrow it down, we used the scroll bar to set a minimum and maximum dollar amount. From there, we narrowed the search further by location (using the map) & checked out each place — both the photos and the reviews!
Our Airbnb Selection
We ended up booking a place in Brooklyn, just across the water from Manhattan. For $50 per night we were able to have a private room in a large 4 bedroom artists loft. Our room had a couch and a desk, as well as a great view out the window at the skyline, including the Chrysler building! We also had access to a living room and complete kitchen. There was even a basket with our names on it in the kitchen where we could put groceries, if we wanted.
There were a few other people staying in the apartment with us. They were extremely nice and we chatted a bit one morning over coffee before we headed out. We actually had a very busy weekend planned. We would leave around 9 in the morning and wouldn’t return until nearly midnight (we pack a lot in on our trips). So for us, this was a wonderful and inexpensive option because we just needed a convenient, clean, and safe place to stay for the night.
Summing Up Our First Airbnb Experience
We had a really great first experience with Airbnb. The host was very responsive and flexible. We communicated a few times with him in advance of our stay, via email and text messages when we arrived. True to his reviews, the loft was spacious, clean, very organized and the hospitality was great. We even found a lovely handwritten note from our host on the desk of our room when we arrived, really making us to feel welcome and at home.
From now on, Airbnb may be one of the first places we search online when we plan a trip. We really enjoy unique travel experiences and this gives us a great way to enjoy some character of a destination, as well as getting to know some locals, and saving some cash along the way.