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 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.
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.
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