In 6 weeks’ time, Mr. Misadventures and I went from having stayed 0 nights in an Airbnb to 19 nights! I’ve had an account for quite a while and have visited the site to drool over many gorgeous properties, but never really considered staying. The main reason is that my hubby and I have had long corporate careers with lots of business travel and hotel points. In the decades we’ve been together we have had so many Starwood nights for free it would make your eyes roll!
But life is different now. We took an 18-month sabbatical (and therefore no business travel) in the RV. Mr. Misadventures is 100% out of corporate life and working in photography (how lucky he is!) and I’ve given up my corporate executive path for a more fulfilling role as a program manager. I don’t manage people or a budget, but rather a program and there isn’t a lot of travel involved, even though in less than a year’s time I have been back to San Francisco, to Barcelona, and to Orlando!
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We used the last of our precious Starwood points in Paris in December the week between Christmas and New Year’s and it turns out, we are kind of over it. With our low carb lifestyle, our dynamic travel lifestyle, and the fact that as a remote contractor I have zero vacation time and when possible need to work while we are traveling, have shaped a need for a different type of accommodation where we can cook or picnic they way we want, and with space for me to work. Thus we turned to Airbnb.
We also decided to share an apartment for the first time as well. We had kept up and strengthened a relationship with RVing friends that we had met on the road and got along with. Over our many outings and dinners, we had spoken about our love for Paris and they had shared a desire to visit with us, so we decided why not share the cost of an apartment.
And away we went!
So our first Airbnb experience became 3. Upon returning from Paris we had 2 quick trips and decided to continue experimenting with this type of lodging. So you get a tripleheader of my thoughts on renting an Airbnb.
Paris Apartment in the Marais
Go big or go home right? Paris notoriously is risky for Airbnb. I’ve read so many horror stories online and in Facebook groups as well as seen reporting on the French news. But I study all the reviews for all the properties we considered and decided to pray to the gods that everything would be okay!
For our 2-week trip to Paris, we rented this 2-bedroom condo in the 3rd arrondissement. The location was sublime. Half a block away from a Monop grocery store. Half a block from a good bakery. Close to the metro and restaurants and markets. We really could not have asked for a better location. It is important when selecting a place to stay that you are near a metro, so take that into consideration if you are planning to stay in an Airbnb (or other rental property) in Paris. Also, having lived in France I am familiar with French apartments/condos. Make sure you carefully review the number of rooms and study the photos.
We had a 2-bedroom to 2-bathroom condo with a kitchen, dining room and salon. Quite a lot by Paris standards. Of course, only 1 of the 2 bedrooms was a “master” bedroom, so remember if you are renting with friends, think about how you are going to divvy them up, someone is going to get the short end of the stick. On this particular trip, it was Mr. Misadventures and I. No big deal in that the bed was super comfortable and we had our own bathroom. Our room was just quite small, but we absolutely made do.
The one annoying thing was that our bathroom was very dark. There were 3 lights, but the only one that was functioning was the one over the toilet. We took a shower in the dark, which wasn’t so bad. Our shower was a stand-up enclosed shower. The shower head was attached to its stand with dental floss, not particularly cool, but it functioned with good water pressure. It was also dark over the sink. I didn’t think it was such a big deal. That is until I started putting together photos for posts and I realized how dark my make-up is! I wear light make-up and I guess I could not get a good gage of my makeup because all I see in the photos is how orange my face looks! Makeup misadventures!
There was wonderful natural light in the afternoon which was perfect. I was free in the mornings to enjoy Paris and started work at 1 pm. I worked on the dining table enjoying the spring weather and natural light. Wifi was perfect and I had only one occasion that the internet was down for about 5 minutes. In a 2-week period, that’s pretty darn good!
We got our exercise being on the 4th floor (which is really 5 floors as level 1 is 0 in France) as there was no elevator (we knew that at the time of renting), but other than that coming and going into the condo was a breeze. Everything was very convenient to access.
Communication with our host prior to our trip was slow, but we got the information we needed ahead of time. The check-in and check-out processes were easy as the concierge for the building we were staying in was our liaison.
My only other complaint besides the lights in the bathroom was the kitchen. It was small, which is not unexpected in Paris, however, it wasn’t very well furnished. In fact, the bathroom wasn’t either. I wouldn’t remark on that except for the fact that the hosts advertised the apartment as having “ALL IS PROVIDED LIKE IN FOUR STARS HOTEL.” In reality that meant a single roll of toilet paper in each bathroom and 2 bottles of shampoo/shower gel that looked like they were taken from a hotel. There were no paper towels (I would have expected at least one roll), no salt and pepper, or sponge. There was one pot and one pan. We bought all of those items plus dishwasher soap, a pot, a pan, olive oil, vinegar, and a salad mixer.
Honestly, I didn’t expect much of the kitchen. I remember sitting in the airport in Indianapolis last June after having spent the weekend at BlogHouse with the first edition of the Airbnb magazine. I will always remember that edition because I was intrigued by an article written by Mark Bittman titled, “How to Cook in Other People’s Kitchens.”
In it, he talks about what he always brings with him to cook – tools, spices, etc. It stuck with me. When you are traveling internationally you can’t really bring a whole bunch with you, but domestically there is an opportunity. This brings us to Airbnb #2.
Duplex in Cathedral Valley (Palm Springs)
The following weekend after returning from Paris we found ourselves heading to Palm Springs. Mr. Misadventures was registered for a workshop Monday – Wednesday, and I was going to work. We went the weekend ahead to do some exploring (blog post coming!). Given that I would be working remotely, that I would need to feed myself for 3 days without a car, we decided staying in an Airbnb would be the best solution.
And it was. We rented this lovely duplex in Cathedral Valley. From a design perspective, we loved the aesthetics, the minimalist decor, and the thoughtfully selected furniture that not only looked good but felt great, along with being super functional. Every little detail was taken into account. Our host was kind, thoughtful and a very interesting person (a sculptor who had lived in Italy)!
The house was bigger than we needed, but the price was right so we went with it. We were up on the hillside and had a lovely view of the valley, it was very quiet which was great for work and the check in and out process was very easy. Whatever misgivings I had about the generosity of our hosts in Paris was long forgotten after staying here. Our host even upgraded her wifi so that I wouldn’t have any issues while working remotely!
The one thing that I did not like, and it is my hang-up, I’m sure not anyone else’s is that we were in a duplex. The other half is the host’s home. I know our hosts didn’t pay attention to our comings and goings and I certainly didn’t pay attention to hers, but there is something to be said about having your own autonomy, which is why I always filter on “entire place” in the Home Type. I’m not the kind of person to share a room, (and didn’t really love sharing the condo in Paris) so the farther away from the owner/host the better in my book!
Overall, our experience in Palm Springs was exceptional.
Casita/Guesthouse in Tucson
Our original plan was to head to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for Memorial Day weekend, but frankly, we started planning too late. Then we just sort of dropped the ball while we went to Paris and Palm Springs. So we decided way last minute to head back to Tucson and use it as a home base to visit some of the more remote areas of Southern Arizona. We knew we would be packing food so we wanted accommodations with a kitchen so we headed back to Airbnb with the hopes that we could still find something given the holiday weekend. We lucked out and rented this casita, a straw bale house in Tucson.
The house had its own entrance in a back alley, it was a bit confusing to find at first, but a quick phone call to our host got us straightened out. It was our first experience with the “Self-check-in” feature and I loved it. The hosts have a code-based entry system to the house and it was awesome. So was the house, a totally adorable little studio that was completely charming and very Southwestern in terms of theme and aesthetic.
Like in Palm Springs, our hosts had thought of everything and there were plenty of amenities, local guides, magazines, books, and even a basketful of treats – it was lovely! The garden around the house was beautiful. The air-conditioning (remember we are talking Tucson) was powerful and easy to use, and the home theatre and wifi equipment were top-notch.
The only problem was that absolutely everything was uncomfortable! It looked good, but nothing was enjoyable. Not the kitchen chairs for the island, the sofa or chair in the living area, and especially not the bed. In reality, except for the bed, we weren’t there a lot, but it would have been nice when we were there to have an enjoyable place to sit to eat and relax.
I’m sold on Airbnb! After 3 stays I am better armed to make my future stays more enjoyable. For the type of traveling and food lifestyle that Mr. Misdaventures and I like, this is the perfect arrangement for us. Like anything else, it isn’t perfect, it’s got its pros and cons, but we are now fans.
We are putting together an “Airbnb-kit” that we will bring with us if we are staying in a place we drive to. And a list of items to buy if we are traveling to a location. One thing I had to buy in all 3 locations was a sponge. 2 places didn’t have one, and the 3rd I just preferred to use a new one. I will look for Self-check-in places (although it won’t preclude me from staying in one that isn’t) and I will prioritize Super Hosts as well because they have been doing the hosting thing a while and have great reputations.
How about you? Have you stayed in an Airbnb? Have any pro tips? Have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them based on my recent experiences!
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