Disruption isn’t always a bad thing. A disruption to our daily routine, for example, can act as a wake-up call for the mind, making us keener. Airbnb is considered by many to be an example of disruptive innovation, meaning they arrived on the scene ten years ago as a website for cheap travelers to safely slum it. Now, with luxury homes and condos popping up all over the world, Airbnb is giving traditional hotels a run for their money. They are currently a direct competitor of big chains like Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton. They’re completely changing the hospitality industry, but is this change for the better?
As someone who fluctuates between Airbnb homes and hotels, I see the latter being forced to modernize — many hotels now offer their own app, which is usually useless, and online booking is standard. Personally, I appreciate the talents of both. Hotels provide personnel, fresh towels, and room service. Airbnb offers local flavor and a sense of belonging to a place you’re visiting for the first time.
In fact, I’d recommend you experience an Airbnb home at least once, no matter how often you travel or how adventurous your tastes. Why? Let’s start with my most recent and most memorable stay at an Airbnb in Pioneertown, California.
The air is thick with sounds of commotion and conversation. It doesn’t stop. That constant rumble is like a heartbeat; it lets you know this city’s alive. Here in Chicago, quiet is a commodity. If you choose it as your home, undoubtedly you love that energy. I know I do. Still, occasional silence clears the head, and for quiet, we must travel a little.
An Off-the-Grid, Glass House Airbnb in Pioneertown, California
This transparent house, 30 minutes outside of Joshua Tree, California provided the isolation I unknowingly needed, a break from mind pollution caused by constant distraction. On the silence of the surrounding desert, I spread my thoughts and reconnected with my family and myself. We cooked kebabs on the grill, hiked over the surrounding hills, and watched the sun swim across a sky full of stars and colors. These were days I will never forget for as long as I live. More to the point, this entire experience was painless to plan thanks to Airbnb. I think that last part should be highlighted.
(This is where I should probably mention that this article is in no way sponsored by Airbnb. After trying the service four times in two different countries, I’d like to share a few lessons I learned that will enhance your experience should you choose to try them.)
What is Airbnb and why is it so special?
It’s like Lyft, offering accommodations instead of transportation. Bed and breakfasts have been around forever, but Airbnb turns that age-old concept on its head by tapping into the collaborative consumption trend most of us find so appealing.
It empowers homeowners with most of what they need to successfully rent their spaces, including access to travelers they can trust and a cleaning budget. It also gives travelers the peace of mind of knowing who they’re staying with or renting from. Each “host” is vetted by Airbnb and reviewed by guests after each stay. These reviews are posted publicly under each host’s profile. Hosts are rewarded for good behavior (i.e., cleanliness, not canceling on guests) with “Superhost” badges that act as beacons for travelers searching for dependable lodging.
Is Airbnb safe?
Depends. Factors that quickly come to mind include a neighborhood’s criminal history and the amount of experience a host has. If the block checks out as being relatively safe, and over 100 guests have rated the host as excellent, you should be okay. Still, anything can happen. Remember to always be on your guard. You’re a guest, so don’t leave valuables in common areas, even if you’re the only one staying in a property. That latter advice shows my paranoia, but, you know, better safe than sorry.
Is Airbnb reliable?
Let’s just say I’ve shown up to a major hotel only to be told that my room, although reserved, is no longer available, and they’re sold out. That’s never happened to me with Airbnb. I also like the fact that if a host does do me dirty, my recourse lies in the easy to use review section where I’d promptly alert future guests that this host is garbage and you’re better off staying elsewhere. Not so easy getting that message across behind a big brand hotel chain.
Should I use Airbnb?
For extended stays, where a kitchen and washer would come in handy, I’d say absolutely. For shorter stays, I’d recommend trying Airbnb only if you trust the location and are looking to live like a local for a few days, without turndown or room service.
Alternatively, there’s something I like to call IHOA (I’m here only for Airbnb). This is when you travel to a location solely for the Airbnb you’ve found online. There’s usually little to do outside of the home, and that’s okay because the home is why you’re here. Our family trip to Pioneertown? Definitely an IHOA situation. It was completely worth it.
Where have you Airbnb’d?
I’ve used the service in Spain (Madrid and Granada), Louisville, Kentucky, and Pioneertown, California. Madrid was terrific all around. Granada was a bit more sketch, but still amazing. Louisville was a disaster, but the host reimbursed me, and Pioneertown was a dream. I plan to use the service again in Europe this year.
Dwell did a great write up on this Airbnb in Pioneertown, CA. Check it out here.
Have you ever used Airbnb? If so, what did you think of it? I’d love for you to share below!