After a flight was cancelled out of Boston, we spent the night in an Airbnb when the alternative was $250+ for a hotel room for five hours.
We’re big fans of Airbnb for many reasons, including locations in residential neighborhoods, affordability and being able to stay somewhere unique. Like a houseboat, converted Airstream or an urban treehouse.
We’ve got more reasons to love Airbnbs and other gorgeous properties.
Airbnbs are Well-Suited for Families and People Who Like to Cook
Because you can rent an entire house or apartment, you can choose to have enough bedrooms to house a family, and of course, have a kitchen. This is another of the top reasons we love Airbnbs – I like to have a kitchen for breakfast and take-out meals.
Despite some hiccups, Nubia DuVall Wilson and her family of four have overall had good experiences with Airbnb. “My family and I exclusively stay at Airbnbs because I have two under the age of five. There’s always something when you rent an Airbnb, but we’ve always had good experiences. Once at a place in the Catskills the water ran out because of a town drought, so one of our three days there we couldn’t flush toilets or run water. It made it feel like a real rustic cabin and the owners were quick to get someone to fix it.
“This summer we were in Washington, DC, and the owners hadn’t paid the cable bill, so our last night in the house, there was no cable TV or Internet but we weren’t using it anyway and we had our phones for internet access so it wasn’t a big deal.”
Nubia said that having a home with a kitchen and several bedrooms makes traveling with children easier and more enjoyable. “Two-bedroom hotel suites are pricey and don’t have kitchens. I want the option to cook breakfast and dinner if I want. I also want to have a glass of wine and stay up past 8 p.m. with the lights on after the kids to bed, but you can’t do that when you are sharing your room with the kids at a hotel!
Danica Kombol loves them for her family vacations and stays in them often. “With grown kids and added boyfriends, we often need to house a crowd. Getting enough hotel rooms is wildly expensive and then we all squirrel away to our private rooms, decreasing the amount of family bonding time. So we’ve taken to renting Airbnb houses. We did so last Thanksgiving in Connecticut and then again in Santa Barbara for Christmas. We love having a big kitchen and communal space to come together.”
Merrill Wolf has stayed in several Airbnbs. “I definitely think it’s the way to go, especially if you want to lounge at home and cook at least some of the time.”
We booked an Airbnb one summer in Montana. We were staying on a ranch for four nights, but my husband Chris and I decided to go out early, to be joined by our kids on different days, so we needed a place for three days that would hold more of us for the last night. We found a house that fit the bill – perfect for just the two of us and big enough for everyone when the other family members came.
Because we had the whole house, we could relax and had a cookout the last night we were there, used the homeowners grill and relaxed on her back porch.
Hotels May Not Be Available Where You Are Going
Sometimes staying in a hotel isn’t an option.
Chris and I have been spending time at Lake James in North Carolina where we own a lake lot. But no home. There are no hotels anywhere close by but we found an adorable little cabin to stay in when we visit. It worked so well for us that we booked it again before we even left.
While searching the area, Chris found a tiny house close by. Our Backyard Bunkie was so cute we decided to add a night to our trip just to stay here. We had a magnificent view of the mountains and enjoyed a wonderful evening watching the bunnies play on the yard, the lightning bugs flitting around and then gazing at the stars. 16
Airbnbs are Often Cheaper Than Hotels
Take a guess how much the Airbnb in Toronto pictured about is? It’s got two bedrooms, two bathrooms in a news high-rise and has amazing lake views. The building has a gym, pool and spa area with a steam room, sauna and ice plunge pool. It rents for just $91 a night.
As previously mentioned, Airbnbs can be cheaper when you are traveling with a family. They can also be an affordable alternative when you’re traveling alone or as a couple.
Chris, has been building a business with stays in Airbnb. He has been traveling the country this past year working on selling The 100 Companies in different cities. He has found it a more affordable way to go and has enjoyed the unique experiences he has had.
For a conference in Seattle, he shared a two-bedroom apartment with a co-worker, which was much less expensive than a hotel, and they could walk to the conference.
Jessica, a millennial traveler, agrees. “An Airbnb is often much cheaper than hotels and can be the same price as a private room in a hostel, so it’s great if you’re on a budget.”
She agrees with the benefits of having a kitchen, for another reason. “I love Airbnb because you get access to a kitchen, so you can buy groceries and cook for yourself, which can save you money when you’re on the road.”
Airbnb Makes Your Feel More Like a Local, and Gives You Access to One
This may be one of the top reasons we love Airbnbs. We have a local contact to ask about best places to eat, shop and where to go.
Fans of Airbnb point to enjoying a more authentic experience while traveling and enjoying the help of their host when looking for recommendations on restaurants and things to do.
Airbnber Jessica Kaye said, “I highly recommend Airbnb when travelling to a new place because it gives you the chance to really live as the locals do as opposed to sticking to a hotel or resort where you might not get the same type of authentic experience. If you’re travelling on your own in a new city, staying in a room in somebody’s house is often a great way to get to know your hosts, and to find out all the best restaurants and shops around the area that might not be as well known to tourists.”
Holly Spalding had wonderful hosts in San Francisco. “They were professional and had map and books of the city and were happy to talk about their favorite restaurants.”
Chris appreciates that as well and has gotten several restaurant recommendations from locals. “I prefer to stay in residential parts of town in walkable neighborhoods where I can live like a local.”
Our hosts in Boston had prepared a notebook with things to do and where to eat in Winthrop by the Sea, which apparently is where we spent the night. Of course, we were unable to take advantage of it during our five hours in the middle of the night there, but it was a lovely item for them to provide.
Chris has even socialized with some of the owners, going to lunch with one and out to hear music with the owner and friends at a club only locals frequent. “I met with my client the next day and he was impressed I had been at that club after just arriving in the city for the first time.”
You Can Often Find an Airbnb When Hotels are Not Available
If there’s a big convention in the city you’re visiting or a major sporting event, hotel rooms can be sold out. And what about football weekends in small southern towns? When our friends Susan and Tom Murphy’s daughter graduated from Ole Miss, they rented an Airbnb tiny house as hotel rooms in the small city of Oxford were all booked. It was small but suited them and their two sons just fine for graduation.
Claire Cronk and her husband Joe visited their daughters in college and stayed in Airbnbs. Hotel rooms can be difficult to find, especially on big weekends in smaller college towns.
Cynthia Briscoe Brown is a big fan of Airbnb. “We’ve used Airbnb in London, San Francisco and Charlotte, and New York City next month. We find them most effective in places where hotel rooms are expensive or scarce.”
With an Airbnb, You Can Stay in Accommodations You Wouldn’t Usually have Access to and Have Memorable Experiences You Wouldn’t Otherwise Have Had
A castle, Italian villa, a houseboat, a cabin in the woods, an Airstream trailer and even a converted railroad car– these are just a few examples of accommodations you can find on Airbnb.
My neighbor has the #1 Airbnb on people’s wish lists in the world. And it’s a treehouse. That’s not an experience you’ll find many other places. (For more on Peter’s treehouse, visit here.)
In addition to unusual accommodations, guests in Airbnbs report having bonding experiences with the owners and finding accommodations that suited their particular needs.
Jessica Kaye, stayed in a refurbished Victoria-era home in San Francisco and bonded with the owners. “The hosts owners’ grandfather built the house and they did everything they could to preserve all the old furniture and decor, so it was really beautiful,” she said. “It was almost like taking a trip back in time. The hosts were very lovely people who gave us tons of insider information on the area and we found out about a fantastic free festival at Golden Gate Park. It was also great to kick back and have a morning coffee on the back patio with their friendly cat.”
She and her boyfriend also stayed in a luxury villa apartment in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. “It was owned by a super friendly Filipino family. It wasn’t long before we were drinking wine and singing karaoke every night in the living room with the father, and going out for beach trips with our hosts and their lovely dog. We stayed a week longer than we intended because we were having so much fun!” she said. “They were sharing homemade meals with us and they even let us borrow their car for trips into the city. We really felt like we were a part of the family and it made our trip so memorable.”
Merrill Wolf stayed on a houseboat in Amsterdam, “where the host went way overboard (no pun intended) in providing food and drink.” She has also stayed in a cave house in Granada, Spain, a flat in a quiet Paris neighborhood and a hilltop village in southern Italy with “unbelievable views of the Amalfi Coast and Capri.”
During a stay in Santa Monica, the owners of the Airbnb lent Chris their bike so he could take long bike rides. He also likes the uniqueness of the accommodations. “All hotel rooms may look alike, but with an Airbnb, your accommodations will be unique, offering a more authentic experience,” he said. “I have stayed in a horse farm in the city of Columbus, Ohio, a high-rise condo overlooking lake in Cleveland, a master bedroom in a historic home in Denver, a condo in converted factory lofts in downtown Milwaukee where I could walk everywhere.”
Sharon Quaintance had had great stays in Provence, Italy, Istanbul and France. She particularly loved their stay in Aix-en-Provence, in Villa Cesaria. They also stayed in a magnificent guesthouse of a 14-century villa in Geggiano, Toscana, Italy, where the bedroom overlooks the family-owned vineyards and an apartment in Rome near the Piazza Navona.
Jean Rollins said, “We have had great experiences in New York City in the Village where we always rent an apartment,” she said. “We once rented a seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom home on Russian Hill for my son’s wedding, all with heated floors and an amazing gourmet kitchen. It belonged to a builder who had just moved to Napa Valley.”
You Can Tailor Your Search to Your Comfort Level
Do you want a whole house, apartment or just a room? I’m a whole-house kind of person, but I’m a different type of traveler than my husband. He’ll stay in a bedroom in a private home when the owners are there.
I did that in Boston because it was our only choice. While he sees it as an opportunity to meet someone interesting while saving money, I’m a bit more private and enjoy getting my coffee in the morning while still in my pajamas.
One feature I really like about Airbnb is that you can tailor your search to your comfort level. I was comfortable staying in a home when the owner wasn’t there, like we did in Montana, and also staying in a lower-floor apartment with a separate entrance, like we did in Charlottesville, Virginia.
They Can Be a Great Alternative When a Flight is Cancelled
We entered the access code at the front door and quietly dragged our suitcases up the unfamiliar stairs, lit only by the glow of our iPhones, feeling like a couple of teenagers sneaking home after curfew. We found our room easily as the owners had told us it would be the one with the lobster on the bed. (Stuffed, not real.)
As we looked around our accommodations for the night, we saw multi-chargers by each side of the bed, two folded towels with toiletries and chocolates and a notebook with information on things to do in the surrounding area. It was almost midnight and we were somewhere close to the Boston airport in a stranger’s home.
When we woke up that morning, we expected to be sleeping in our own bed in Atlanta that night. But such is travel that it takes you places you never expected, or planned, to be. JetBlue had delayed our flight from Nantucket, meaning we missed the last flight from Boston home, so we were stranded for the night.
Faced with the option of sleeping in the airport, finding nearby hotels already booked or charging $200+ a night, my husband searched on Airbnb and found us a spot close to the airport.
He booked it and after a short Uber ride, we were at the home of Ken and Jez. We had a clean, comfortable room to catch a few hours’ sleep. The next morning (at 4:30AM) we got up and accepted the offer they’d made of making coffee and helped ourselves to granola bars left in a basket in the dining room.
We were there less than five hours, and while it felt a little awkward to me, an Airbnb newbie, to be sleeping in a stranger’s home and never even seeing them, it beat the alternative of hanging out in the Boston airport (have you seen those carpets?!) until we caught our early-morning flight. In this case, Airbnb was a lifesaver. And the base rate was much cheaper than the hotel options.
All of Airbnb’s Listings Are in One Place
Let’s say you want to book a stay in Las Vegas and want the whole place to yourself. With just one search you can find what’s available.
Chris loves that he can easily do everything he needs to for his stay in an Airbnb on his phone. You can search millions of listings through the app on your smartphone. He found and booked the Airbnb for our overnight in Boston while we were riding the trolley to the airport in Nantucket.
# 1 Question to Ask Yourself Before Booking an Airbnb
Are you flexible? That’s the question. Are you able to handle any potential issues that arise without it ruining your trip? And are you willing to take a bit of a risk for the potential high reward of all the advantages an Airbnb offers?
We are big fans for Airbnb and hope you’ve learned more about the reasons we love Airbnbs. Please visit our homepage to see the search box and start planning your next visit. Tag @thetravel100 in your photos!
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– Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief