AIRBNB.COM – budget beds in New York, and everywhere else

A three bedroom Brooklyn apartment for this price sounds a very good deal!

I may have mentioned, several times, that my play ‘The Book of Everything’ is going to New York in April.

It’s all very exciting, but the playwright, having already done his job, is now considered surplus to requirements and thus has to pay for himself and partner to travel to and stay in the Big Apple. We’re hoping for a couple of complimentary tickets to see the show.

Meanwhile Mevrouw T and I have been looking for acceptable accommodation at a freelance-writer-affordable price. I think we’ve found it.

In the interests of research we’ll be staying in a number of different places, lugging our luggage from interesting hotel to interesting hotel, so that we’ll be able to report on them for readers of RT’s LOTR. Stay tuned for more on that.

But when the play opens we have friends from far-flung parts of the US coming to the Big Apple to see it. It’s very nice that they wanted to do that, so we wanted to stay conveniently close to them. Which is where Airbnb comes in.

Friends referred us to a website, www.airbnb.com. It’s a site where ordinary citizens can advertise their spare airbed, sofa, bedroom, apartment or 26-room mansion and ordinary travellers can rent it for a night, a month or whatever is agreed.

Here’s how it works…

We joined the website (for no charge) and entered ‘New York’ in the box labelled ‘WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO’. 10,827 addresses popped up.

To accommodate our friends, we narrowed the search to ‘entire apartment with three bedrooms’ and got 436 results this time.

We chose a nice-looking place in Brooklyn, which promised to be only minutes by subway from Broadway – did I mention that the play is on at the New Victory Theater in 42nd St?

Through the website we sent a message to owner Paul, who replied the next morning that he’d be delighted to host us. Money was exchanged via the net and, with any luck, when we turn up there the place will be ours. It’s a fraction of the cost of three hotel rooms.

We need to make an arrangement with Paul to pick up keys etc, but testimonials on the website from others who’ve stayed there assure us that Paul is a terrific, reliable chap whose apartment is lovely. We are confident that all will go well.

It seems a great system. The name comes from ‘Airbed and Breakfast’, suggesting that it started small, but it’s now operating world wide and lists, at the last count, accommodation options in 19,372 cities in 192 countries. If it is as good as it appears to be we are sure to use it again.

Has anybody else used airbnb, or anything on similar websites and how did it all go?

8 Comments

Filed under Budget travel

8 responses to “AIRBNB.COM – budget beds in New York, and everywhere else

  1. I haven’t tried this, but I will watch with interest. I love New York! The last 2 times I went there I was cat sitting for a friend – excellent!

    • A few places I looked at did mention pets, particularly where the host has just a spare room to offer, rather than a whole apartment.

      Most testimonials regarded this as a plus, making the place seem like a home away from home.

  2. steven

    Hi Richard,
    I’ve used it twice to stay overnight in Sydney. Didn’t get the whole apartment though, just a room in somebody’s house. Both times it was fine, but a little unusual as it’s like a B&B (without the second B!) and certainly much more casual.
    Up for another ride soon?

    • Thanks, Steven,

      Lots of the testimonials speak of making new friends through the shared situation. That social contact could be good or bad of course. If it’s just a little bit awkward, probably people politely shut up about it. If it’s great, they say so with enthusiasm.

  3. sara

    I stayed in a flat in London via a site called Tripping.com. They have rentals where the owner is at home (so you can rent a room) but also rentals where you can rent an entire flat/house/cabin. It’s definitely better to stay in ‘your own’ place than in a hotel!

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