Airbnb sent an email an email a few weeks, reminding me of my third anniversary with them. I can still remember the excitement and apprehension when I made my first booking: a non-descript apartment in the East Berlin district of Mitte. It was clean and spartan, with a heater from the Cold War era. It was perfect. I wanted to get a feel of how it was to live east of the Berlin Wall during the 1960s, and that’s exactly what I got.
Being able to play the part of a temporary local, someone who belongs in the time and space that I seek out in my travels, is the biggest reason why I love Airbnb. Sure, there are occasional snags and minor inconveniences, usually related to the fact that these places are owned and run by regular folks with lives and jobs and not full time hotel professionals. But on the whole, the experience has been positive and enriching.
Here’s what I look for in an Airbnb property:
I love places that have a sense of self. They have a unique personality and they show it in the big pieces and in the smallest details. Sometimes it’s the romanticism of its history, sometimes it’s the novelty of what’s new. I am particularly drawn to homes that have a blend of edge, charm and whimsy. I call this the “Quirk Factor.” I can see myself living in these places.
2. Interesting and friendly hosts
I comb through hundreds of reviews to find comments from previous guests that tell me that these homeowners are the type of people who take pride in their homes and are eager to welcome you to their beloved abode. Those are my kind of peeps. When I get there, I usually find then even more engaging and fascinating as I thought them to be based on their profiles. I can see these people being my friends if I lived in their neighborhood.
3. Beautiful design
One of my first Airbnb stays was this gorgeous apartment overlooking Plaza Mayor in Madrid. It was so exquisitely put together that it made me look for homes that valued beauty in different expressions. Since then, I’ve learned to appreciate a variety of styles.
4. Amazing view
This is one of the biggest delights of staying in somewhere new and different: the luxury of looking out of the window and finding a scene that’s truly unlike anything I can see at home.
Special Mention: Animals
I don’t particularly seek out places that have animals but I’ve found that most of my memorable stays were in houses that had non-human occupants. These creatures add a special layer of coziness and belongingness as they allow you to share their space with them.
For more Airbnb tips, check out Being a Temporary Local with Airbnb.