Your intrepid traveler is back at HQ safely and without incident … mostly.
I’ve come to view that booking Airbnb should be a last minute/everything is booked or “I’m broke and can’t afford real accommodations” situation. After this Vancouver and Denver trip, I’ve staid in ten Airbnbs, seven of them in the past three months. Now that I’m back to being gainfully employed, it’s time to pony up for a decent hotel.
Here’s my first complaint: that Airbnb builds community and promotes friendships between guests and hosts, according to founder Brian Chesky. I call bullshit on that. They made portray that in ads and on their website with professional looking photos and clip art, but the reality is something else.
Let’s face it, Airbnb is way for people to make money for as little effort as possible. You have a spare room? Put a few towels on the bed, a few local travel brochures and a spare key and expect money to come in.
I’m sure there are spectacular places for rent run by outstanding people who have made a difference in travelers lives. When I come across something like that I’ll let you know.
My experience on my past two journeys soured me on the Airbnb experience. I’ve told you about the owner’s cat escaping on my July road trip through the south. Also on that road trip, the Airbnb host asking me three times if I wanted to stay for breakfast. The first time I said “That’s nice, but I need to be on the road early and I’m going to check out the town’s baked goods, coffee, etc.” Second time, I said, “No thanks, but I really want to do my own thing tomorrow morning.” Third time they asked as I was packing up the car, I had to take a breathe so as not to sound rude. “No thank you. I’m good, but thanks you for the offer.” As a little background, the room and bathroom was filled with bible verses. I knew where that was going.
On this trip, I decided to pony up a bit with the Airbnb since the flights were free. One place I paid $100+ a night that looked like a large house in a “great, quiet neighborhood convenient to downtown.” What it turned out to be was a glorified boarding house in a basement with little effort to details in their three rooms they were renting out. Let me rattle off the list — barely functioning wifi or none at all, no toilet paper holder, empty shampoo and soap bottles, no bathmat by the shower, a shower that ran that was either burn your skin off hot or freeze your nuts off cold, a showerhead that wouldn’t stay in place and just fell limp, no art on the walls, the cheapest pillows and duvet cover (No sheet or bed linear), a handy list of more ways I could give them more money, constant noise from the boiler next door, a small window to let light in, no desk or chair and five cheap plastic hangers in the closet. The neighborhood? It was very nice … with nothing of note around and about 40-minute bus ride to downtown if you time it right. So a few late night taxis were in play (there’s no Uber in Vancouver).
Add in the fact that the hosts never bothered to me greet me and I never saw or spoke to them and this led to my first 3-star review on a 4.9 listing. It had to be done. On night two when the wifi wasn’t working, I looked on the Hotels Tonight app and saw I could be at the downtown Radisson for $119 a night. I just didn’t feel like packing up and ordering a taxi.
Then the other Airbnb I got, a very nice couple with a young son. Room and shower was nice, had everything a regular hotel would include. Again, far from downtown via a 45-minute bus ride or $20 Lyft.
This happened. I got back to the Airbnb at 11:15pm. Not that late, but not staggering home drunk at 2am. They gave me all they keys I needed, but THEY PUT THE CHAIN ON THE DOOR FROM THE INSIDE. They were all asleep. I didn’t want to wake the kid so I had to call the host. Second try she finally answered so she could let the chain off. They forgot I was staying there.
As you can see, I might be breaking up with Airbnb. The little inconveniences add up to a major hassle. At this point in my travel life, I don’t want to be sleeping in a stranger’s house just to save some money. I’m gainfully employed again and hopefully can plan out my next journey months in advance.
Hotels, especially those who offer a little style for not much more money, are always practically located, don’t have cats escaping, not trying to sell you on religion, having working wifi, 24-hour help and don’t put chains on your door. My best travel experiences include memories staying at great hotels.
While I don’t think there’s a lesson to be learned, I think saving money towards accommodations is better than saving money with your accommodations.
It’s always been one of my travel guidelines — skimp on travel (air,bus,train,boat), splurge on hotels.