These days, it seems that Airbnb is fighting fire on all fronts. Legal and taxation issues mixed with strong opposition from the old guards of hospitality means that this relatively young startup is under siege in cities all across the world. We’ve spoken before about our regular use of the site – in fact, our post on Airbnb Etiquette: 10 Tips for Guests is one of the most popular on the site. Suffice to say, we are fans of the service.
We empathise with the plight of more traditional-style hotels but there are many things, both big and small, they can learn from Airbnb. Here are just five of them:
We love the sharing aspect of Airbnb but we’ll admit that the first and foremost reason it’s gained such traction is pure and evil money. It is by and large cheaper than equivalent hotel stays across hundreds of destinations. If you’re visiting New York, even a budget hostel will put a significant hole in your pocket; an Airbnb stay will likely be much, much cheaper. It also gives you the option of staying further out of the city centre in order to cut costs. Decent hotel options at similar distances will be relatively rare.
All day breakfast
Being on holiday should mean that you can lie in as late as you want. Alas, the curse of the hotel breakfast has so many of us dragging ourselves out of bed to catch the last crumbs of the buffet before it’s all packed up and taken away. With Airbnb, it’s a different story. You can wake up any time you want and saunter down to the kitchen to make and enjoy a leisurely breakfast.
Access to a kitchen
Some modern hotel rooms will come with a kitchenette but more often than not you’ll be confined to a two-room space: bedroom and bathroom. Airbnb generally offers you free rein over all areas of the home meaning you can cook all your meals if you are so inclined. Peter and I try to cook as much as possible when we’re in an Airbnb place as it’s not only a great way to try out local ingredients, it keeps the costs down too!
I’m sure there are people more refined than me who feel completely comfortable with the culture of tipping. The smooth confidence and subtle handshake, the gracious acceptance of a server’s gratitude – I’ve seen it happen but it’s never me. Instead, I can be found fumbling awkwardly and silently fretting if I’m paying too little or too much, or wait, am I meant to be tipping at all? In an Airbnb place, there are no bellhops or concierges. There are no maids or servers or elevator operators. There is no call for anguish or awkwardness – perfect for the Brit in me.
A local guide
My favourite Indian restaurants in London are The Kati Roll Company in Oxford Circus, Bangalore Express in Waterloo and Lahore Kebab House in Aldgate East. Only one of these is in the best guide to London I’ve found and it’s unlikely that hoteliers would recommend these over their more famous counterparts (Veeraswamy, Tayyabs and the many in Brick Lane). I recommend them to every Airbnb guest that has stayed with us, most of whom tried one of the restaurants and absolutely loved it. Staying with a host that has a deep knowledge of the city adds cultural value that you seldom get through a hotel concierge or his collection of leaflets. Hotels do of course have their benefits (a regular cleaning service being one of them) but in the long-term fight for guests, it’s Airbnb that is winning.