My two Airbnb experiences in Tampa and Berkeley

If you’ve ever traveled to another city, chances are that you stayed in a hotel and paid hotel rates. A big trend, however, is the so-called “sharing economy” where landlords are renting out their vacant rooms or homes to travelers at very competitive rates. The startup leading the way, Airbnb, is making a big dent in the way travelers spend their money on accommodations. Here are my two Airbnb experiences.

Airbnb vs Days Inn

My first experience with Airbnb was last summer. I was doing an internship in Tampa and I rented a room at a student housing complex near USF. Due to renovations, I had to move out of the complex with six days left in my internship. Saving money was on my mind. I had heard about Airbnb being affordable before but I was very skeptical about using it. I was not exactly looking forward to moving into a stranger’s house however, I had heard the company was experiencing explosive growth and had read that a lot of people were satisfied. For these reasons, I gave it a chance, for ONE day. In order to hedge any bad experience, I prepaid for five nights at a Days Inn. It was simple: try out Airbnb for one night and stay at Days Inn for five.

Cost:

  1. Airbnb (1 night) – $38 total
  2. Days Inn (5 nights) – $252 total or about $50 a night

Airbnb was AWESOME. My host greeted me, offered snacks, and took me directly to my room. It was a large and very clean room with hangers for my clothes, Netflix login to stream movies, wifi credentials for the internet, and towels. I felt right at home. Though the bathroom was shared in the hallway with other Airbnb guests (my host had another Airbnb room), it resembled a hotel bathroom. The bathroom was complete with travel sized shampoos, lotion, and soap. My host had even given me a pin to use on the Schlage (door lock) in case I wanted to come in and out of the house. My first Airbnb experience was 10/10.

I had enjoyed my stay through Airbnb but I transferred to Days Inn afterward as I had prepaid weeks before. Days Inn was terrible. The bathroom and room were all dirty and smelled old. The iron they provided me worked well but what irritated me were the ironing boards they had on hand. I had asked for a clean ironing board as the one I received had stains, only to be told that it was the cleanest one they had. The only great thing to come out of Days Inn was the free wifi. The continental breakfast was okay. My Days Inn experience was 3/10.

Airbnb Boat

A month ago I went to San Francisco with a few friends for a conference. We were on a budget and realized that we could not pay $200+ a night in SF for a decent hotel. For this reason, we checked Airbnb and booked a reservation to stay in a boat in Berkeley (30 minutes from SF). We paid a total of $230 for three nights. Though the boat did not have wifi or a bathroom (the marina had a full shower and bathroom), it was a great experience. Two of us each slept on a bed while the other slept on a couch. It was something we hadn’t experienced but really helped us enjoy our trip.

As for the host, she was extremely friendly and always available if we had any questions. If you’re curious, she didn’t live in the boat. She lived nearby and shared some recommendations that we would otherwise not have gotten had we stayed in a hotel. Jupiter was one of them. It was so good that we went in twice. My Airbnb experience on a boat… 8/10.

Overall

My Airbnb experiences were great and I highly recommend that others give it a try at least once. It’s a whole different type of travel when you think and act, local. In my experiences, my Airbnb hosts did a good job at keeping their places clean and being very welcoming to their tenants.

If I had to list a downside, I’d say it’s staying at a strangers house (as I mentioned) while they live in it. It was a bit awkward for me.

Questions, concerns, or things you’d like me to add to this article? Let me know (Tweet me).

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