We’re off to New York in October and have decided to take the plunge and give Airbnb a try. Airbnb is a website which has received a lot of recent press, allowing people to rent out either a room or their whole property to holiday-makers. It can work out much cheaper than hotels, with the added bonuses of having personal space and your own kitchen.
However, with two months to go until our holiday, I have become increasingly disappointed with Airbnb. Prices range from £550-750 for a five night stay in Lower Manhattan (we’re looking specifically around the East Village). We started looking at apartments in mid-July, and finally took the plunge to ‘request to book’ on a beautiful apartment with excellent features including a distressed brick wall feature, a comfy-looking bed, and a kitchen which didn’t look like it was hosting a family of cockroaches. A day later we received a message from the owner saying that actually, the flat wasn’t available on our requested dates.
Not to be defeated we got in touch with another host. There was a sense of urgency thanks to Airbnb informing us after our second rejection that only 16% of listings were still available for our date. Two months in advance!
Don’t be fooled by their low prices – it quickly becomes apparent that you have to pay a service fee of about £80, and a cleaning fee, which can be anything from £20 to £80. ‘Artist’s Studio’ or flats described as ‘bohemian’ will most likely resemble a ‘den’ you made as a child, coupled with Moroccan-themed wall hangings and - I’m guessing here - the smell of mothballs and that suspicious feeling that whilst it says ‘entire house’, it is quite likely that you're bunking with fleas, bed bugs...or his cat (think 'hobo', not 'boho'). Anything with ‘zen’, ‘oasis’ or ‘retreat’ in the listing title is probably located on a sixth floor walk-up, with windows facing a 5-point pedestrian crossing near Times Square. ‘China Town apartment’ equals a pokey studio with the cooker next to the bed and a permanent stench of katsu curry, ‘Super Cute’ reveals an apartment that looks like it’s been decorated by a small child in that ‘Princess phase’, ‘Bright’ means, no curtains so good luck sleeping, and anything described as a ‘unit’ will literally be a box room. With all the furniture pushed to the back. And probably the most depressing place you will ever sleep in.
Who knows where we will stay? With seven weeks to go, an impending rejection from our fourth potential apartment, and my boyfriend breaking out into hot flushes about our looming holiday-homelessness, perhaps CouchSurfing.com is the way forward. Turns out it’s completely free… but the downside is you’re on someone’s sweat-stained couch.
the crazy happenings in my life