Having been on the go almost non stop for 11 days we needed a day of doing nothing which is exactly what we did on day 12 – we didn’t even get dressed until the middle of the afternoon. The boys caught up on their journals and relaxed with their gadgets, I updated the blog whilst Nick culled the first thousand photographs and, aside from a quick walk around the block, we didn’t go out.
This therefore gives me an opportunity to say a bit more about our experiences of Airbnb so far. At the time of writing, we have used Airbnb in 6 locations and all of them have been positive experiences.
In Washington DC we stayed in Marcia’s place in Q Street Northeast of the downtown area. Finding cheap accommodation anywhere in the capital is difficult and Marcia’s place was definitely at the top end of our budget but for our first stop we wanted something comfortable to begin with and we weren’t disappointed. The apartment was immaculately clean with a lovely kitchen area, complete with a dishwasher, large stove and fridge freezer and stocked with store cupboard ingredients so that each guest doesn’t have to run out and buy the basics. There were two huge bedrooms each with a lovely full bathroom and all essentials such as shampoo and toothpaste were included. Marcia provides her guests with Metro cards which can be reloaded so that travel on the city subway is discounted as well as a parking permit for those with a car. She came to meet us on our first night and also showed us the discount card for the local supermarket – it’s these little touches that make Airbnb so much better than a hotel. When we left Washington a week later, Marcia found one of Alex’s cars and a hat belonging to Teddy that we had left behind and so she contacted us and kindly posted them on – I’m not sure many hotels would have been so helpful. The only downside for us was that there were no laundry facilities in the apartment or within easy walking distance which wouldn’t have been an issue if we had been going back home after our stay but with many months still ahead we (and of course when I say “we” I mean “Nick”) had to find the local laundromat.
So, for anyone considering a trip to Washington DC and looking for a place within walking distance of the main attractions (or just a couple of blocks from the metro), we would wholeheartedly recommend Marcia’s apartment – here.
For Philadelphia and New York we tightened our budget a little and stayed in slightly smaller, but perfectly adequate apartments. Both had great access to public transport and on street parking and in all cases we have found communicating with our hosts throughout our stay has been easy and helpful.
One of the downsides with Airbnb is that there is a risk that a host will cancel a booking, potentially at the last minute, which with kids, could be very stressful. A month or so before we left Airbnb notified us that the original place we had booked in Philadelphia had been cancelled. This was hugely disappointing but we were offered a contribution towards another Airbnb rental and of course a full refund on the cancelled booking. It took less than 2 hours to find something else that was suitable. I suppose if we had been looking at somewhere really remote with only one Airbnb property for miles around, it might be more significant but generally, in the major cities, there are enough alternatives for the risks of cancellation to be manageable.
Our most recent properties have been fantastic: In Braintree our suburban home just outside Boston, our host had stocked the property with everything from hair straighteners to Epsom Bath Salts (which I may have made use of!). When we notified him that the dishwasher was playing up, he immediately swapped it out for a brand new one – on a public holiday! I’m not sure every host would be so quick to act but reading the reviews suggests that many do.
What I like about the Airbnb website is that you can set quite specific search parameters to find what you are looking for. So, now that I know what I am doing, I can specify that I want a non smoking, 2 or 3 bedroom place within a specified geographic location, with laundry facilities and even a carbon monoxide detector. I can set an upper or lower limit on the amount I want to spend and I can search with particular dates, or none at all. Joining was very straightforward; I emailed a photo of my driving licence and linked my Facebook account and was set up in under an hour.
So, if having read all of this, you fancy giving Airbnb a go (and why wouldn’t you – I’m not sure I’ll ever use a hotel again!) you can click on the following link to join and we will both get a small discount on our next bookings: Click here for your discount.
Don’t be shy now – you know you want to!