Friday, 30 March 2012

Airbnb

I once rented a flat in Barcelona for a minibreak instead of a Hotel – it was much more affordable, in the centre of town and you felt like a local.

Now, I thought I was savvy.....until a work colleague told me about this website: Airbnb. She managed to go to Paris with her friend and stayed in the heart of the Marais district in this flat:

Here is her review:
Four nights in Paris by Marisa Bate

This was my second experience of airbnb (http://www.airbnb.com/); a website where users can rent out their homes for short periods of time, and in turn, where you can find cheap places to stay in cities all over the world.  The first time I used the website, myself and five other girls squeezed into a two bed apartment in the Lower East Side, NY.  But we knew exactly what we were getting. Amikole, the owner, posted pictures of her apartment on the site. The flats and houses advertised on the site are vetted and users can rate and comment on places based on experience. It all feels very legit. We spoke over email with Amikole. She was out of town for the same long weekend we hoped to be in town. She had plenty of spare duvets and blow up beds and we saved loads of money. Everyone was happy (perhaps apart from her two cats who had to deal with six excitable girls from London).

So I didn’t think twice about using airbnb when I went off to Paris just before Christmas with my best friend. We knew we definitely wanted to stay in the Marais, in the 11th, and that’s how we found this ‘Mini Loft ‘. Through the online form, we contacted Pablo and within a day he’d got back to us saying the loft was available and for a super reasonable 80 euros a night for the both of us. He even sent through directions from the airport, how much a cab should cost and the metro lines to use. His step-father met us at the flat, let us in and gave us some great tips about nice local restaurants, supermarkets and bars.

The pictures were great on the website so we were anxious to see if we had really found an amazing loft in the Marais for 40 euros a night each. And we had. The light flooded in through the sky light. The design was simple; lots of wood and cream with good attention to detail. Tucked away in the roof of a beautiful old house, the open plan was perfect for sharing with my best friend. In one corner, on old leather sofa sat round a coffee table with a CD player. Each night we’d come in, fall on the sofa, have a cup of green tea and dissect our day.

Renting someone else’s home is a great way to stay in the heart of where you want to be at an affordable price. And there is the potential to save so much money. We had our own kitchen which meant we could cook the odd dinner, have breakfast and have a glass of wine before we went out. One trip to the supermarket covered our four nights and saved us no end.

Since our trip I have raved about airbnb and Pablo’s apartment. As well as the smug feeling of knowing you’re saving money at the same time as being in one of the hippest parts of Paris, the experience gives you an sense of authenticity that you just don’t get from a hotel or B&B.  Soon you have a local bar, a bakery and metro stop. For four nights and days, I lived in a beautiful apartment in Paris – or at least it felt that way.

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