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My First airbnb Experience

best airbnb in paris

One of the questions I’m often asked is what it’s like to be an airbnb host. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing with you what it’s like to be an airbnb guest and host, and my top tips to becoming a better host. To begin, I thought it was only fitting to start at the very beginning with my first airbnb experience.

My first airbnb experience was also during my first visit to Paris in 2012. I needed to get out of London after finding it difficult to adjust to the lifestyle and having spent eight years of high school learning French, it made sense to take the Eurostar to Paris to put it to the test.

After missing my train, getting lost, and almost scammed out the front of Paris’ Gare du Nord, I was soon stepping out of a cab in front of the grand doors of Karl’s apartment building in the 8th arrondissement.
From the first moment I was greeted by Karl, I felt welcomed and at home in this new foreign city.

Karl’s apartment was small but oozing in character with antiques he had personally collected over the years. The living room was the main room of the house with the bed tucked into a corner, the TV warbled only in French, and the bathroom and toilet were so small you almost had to back yourself in. It wasn’t quite what I expected but I was charmed by the apartment. The only thing I didn’t like about the property was climbing four flights of stairs to reach the door – thankfully Karl was on hand to help me carry my suitcase up the stairs – but even the well-worn concrete stairs only added to the character of the property.

There was a cupboard full of spare blankets as Paris in winter is quite chilly and a drawer full of maps and brochures from around the city and a folder of instructions, addresses to local stores and their opening hours, and information on how to get to Paris’ most popular sights. The kitchen was stocked with a small milk and plenty of condiments, perfect should I decide to cook in the small but functional kitchen.
His only request was to respect the apartment. I promised him I would as we stood by the door. He simply smiled and said “à bientôt” before leaving me.

The Sacre Coeur in Montmartre in Paris, France

The week flew by. I found a boulangerie on the street where I’d go each morning and get a latte and fresh bread. I wore the soles of my boots while out exploring the cobbled streets, and I even braved the crowds and Metro to explore places I’d only seen or heard of in movies. I spent long nights listening to the TV speak to me in French and politely asked everyone to speak to me only in French (a struggle but worthwhile). It was an exhilarating challenge after spending so much time travelling in the US and UK.

Towards the end of the week when I spoke to Karl about check-out, he mentioned no guests were coming for another three days and I’d be welcome to stay should I be able to change my flight… for free. I jumped at the chance to spend more time in the City of Lights.

That night, I donned my ‘Eiffel Tower pj’s’, read ‘Year in the Merde‘, drank French champagne I bought from a store near the Eiffel Tower the night before, and feasted on strawberries, cheese and baguette with that little television still warbling at me from the corner of the room. Even though cancelling my return flight cost extra and my new train ticket back to London on the Eurostar was expensive, I paid the money for a few extra days. It was the best decision I made on that particular Euro trip.

Looking out over Paris, France from Notre Dame

I didn’t see a lot of the city. Sure, there were places I visited every day and I got lost while wandering the maze of streets. I climbed the Notre Dame, explored Montmartre and saw the Eiffel Tower, I ate far too much French food and practiced speaking French at every opportunity, but I was content to just be at ‘home’. I spent most of my days working from the apartment as I dragged the antique desk and overstuffed chair over to the window to gaze at the rooftops, balconettes and cobbled streets below, or in a cafe sipping on coffee and eating every French pastry I encountered. It was a change of scene, a change of people, and it was exactly what I needed.

Since then, I’ve tried plenty of other apartment rental or vacation rental properties when I’ve travelled. I’ve used Flipkey in Reykjavik and four girls crammed into one tiny, dirty Roomarama apartment in Pamplona during the Running of the Bulls (I did have a much better experience with Roomarama when I was in Barcelona), and even dabbed with Wimdu and Go with Oh!, but it is airbnb who I looked to when I decided I wanted to rent out my spare room instead of finding a permanent housemate.

This isn’t some sponsored post, this isn’t a sponsored series. This is just me, my stories and experiences. And I really hope you’ll share your guest experiences and hosting tips with me.

Let me know in the comments below

Tell me your first airbnb story!

 

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Lauren Meshkin
    June 3, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    I always come back to Airbnb as well! I think the best and most affordable airbnb’s I’ve experienced were in Madrid. Great value! Loved reading this, thanks for sharing.

    Happy travels 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 4, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      So glad to hear you had a good airbnb experience in Madrid, Lauren! What made that experience stand out more than all others?

      They have some steep competition but for global usage, Airbnb wins. Wimdu is a pretty close second when it comes to Central Europe travel! 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda Kendle
    June 4, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Totally with you on Airbnb. It made our Iceland experience even more fabulous than it would have been otherwise and it is my go to accommodation source now.

    • Reply
      Nicole
      June 4, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      That’s great to hear, Amanda! Your Iceland trip looked amazing, so for it to get any better is a big call 😉

  • Reply
    Greta
    June 14, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    Hi Nicole,
    for me the first experience = best experience. I stayed with Airbnb in Bornholm, and the flat was just amazing! Also, we could cook at home and enjoy the sunset from a beautiful terrace, which just made the whole experience even better. If you wanna take a peek, I´ll just drop here the link: https://stackingringsandcamera.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/quick-escape-to-bornholm-denmark/.
    Wish you a very good day!
    Greta

  • Reply
    Joy
    June 22, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Love your story! Definitely sounds like the stay was worth the additional cost! Since moving abroad in 2010 and often using airbnb, we’ve only had one “bad” stay. We rented a 2-bedroom flat in Copenhagen with our German friends, great location, but just reeked of cigarette smoke even the bedding. It was advertised as non-smoking. Ewww!

    Next month, we’re heading to London and doing a 30-day flat share with an airbnb host. This will be our first experience doing a long-term share. At least we have an en-suite bedroom with a private entrance. Hopefully it works out! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sher
    June 22, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    I have never stayed airbnb or any other vacation rental places…. have always been skeptical and steered more towards hotels. But your host seemed so lovely maybe i should give them a go the next time i travel!

  • Reply
    Keely
    August 13, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    I LOVED hearing about your Airbnb experience! I tried it out for the first time for a friends wedding in San Fran earlier this year! The couple I rented from were SO nice! I came home from the wedding still hungry and I ordered a pizza to share with them and they shared wine! I’m a HUGE extrovert, and I’ve an Irish father, so I LOVED the fun topics we ended up discussing late into the night. Er, early into the morning? The only thing that hurt my little Irish soul was that there was no tea or condiments for use, but other than that, I really truly enjoyed it!

    I’m curious though, what an Airbnb is like in Europe–you make me want to find out! Have you noticed any differences? (if you stayed at an airbnb here in the US)

    • Reply
      Nicole
      August 15, 2016 at 11:03 am

      Hi Keely,
      I’ve only stayed in a one airbnb property in the US so the only real difference I can comment on would be the apartment size. In Europe, things tend to be quite a bit smaller than the US.

      When you head to Europe you’ll have to let me know what differences you find 🙂

  • Reply
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