I received a special offer from Qantas to receive extra frequent flyer points if I give Airbnb a go. I don’t think I’ll be taking it up.
As I’ve said before, I prefer to stay in hotels — specifically brand-name hotels — and it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get me to go into a privately owned home. Again.
While I haven’t used Airbnb, I have used a similar service that put me into an apartment in Paris. It was a good deal, and a lot cheaper than a hotel would have cost, but I wasn’t truly comfortable there.
So here are my five reservations — get it? — about booking private accommodation online:
Sharing. For starters, I’m not going to share my space except with somebody I’m extremely fond of. So I won’t be taking a room in anybody’s house while they are still living there. Why? Because I’m a grown up who is far too set in his ways. It isn’t a holiday if I can’t wander around the lounge room in my underwear.
Price. If I’m not just taking a room, then it comes down to apartments or houses, where the price advantage over hotels begins to evaporate. If it even existed in the first place, that is. A simple search of places I know well suggests to me that a lot of people are asking a lot more than their apartment or house is worth, while offering a lot less in terms of amenities than a hotel.
Location. Hotels are generally in the centre of the action or somewhere where travellers, such as business people, need to be. In most cases, private homes are not.
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The experience. I’m told an Airbnb offers an authentic “local” experience. But does it really? Is a note from the owner informing you about a nice pub or coffee shop superior to the combined knowledge of the concierge and other hotel staff? And let’s face it, you’re not instantly going to make friends with the neighbours or build up a rapport with the baker and the owner of the cheese shop down the road. Unless you plan on staying for weeks or months, you’re never going to get a handle on the place. At least the hotel has a bar where they may not know your name, but they are paid to be nice to you.
The vibe. Frankly, staying in somebody else’s place kind of freaks me out. Even when they are friends. It’s not just the underwear thing (see above), it’s the whole feeling of being in a home that is normally inhabited by others. It’s like buying into their life. Hotels, on the other hand, are made to be comfortable and functional, but more or less generic. Good enough to sleep in, but not “homey” enough to make you want to hang around and watch TV all day. When I’m on holiday, I need to be in a place that encourages me to get out and about.
Am I being too harsh, unadventurous or just plain stupid? Your thoughts are welcome in the comments section and/or on social media.