The airbnb way

Finding accommodation in Rio over carnival at late notice was next to impossible. Our options were down to a bed in a 16-bed mixed dorm room (never going to happen) at $150 per person per night or an ‘adults only hotel’ (that is a bed and accessories covered in plastic with mirrors on the ceiling in dodgey part of town) for about the same cost. And so, I embarked on setting up my profile and finding a spot through airbnb. Not much cheaper, but perhaps a little more decent.

As I can see it, you can do the airbnb thing 3 ways. Our first booking in Rio, was in a shared apartment. Yep, we had decided given the ridiculous price of things, we were ok taking the spare room of a French-Brazilian couple. This means they would’ve been there during our stay, a little stranger but the reviews were good, and life is about new experiences afterall.

Unfortunately, the hosts (as they are referred to by airbnb) had to cancel. Which, to be fair, was just a little stressful given that Rio was 98% fully booked.

Our second booking we chose a full apartment to ourselves. And this is where I can actually review the experience as it did happen. The apartment is lived in permanently by the hosts, who we met when we arrived. As we all know, when you live somewhere, you have stuff. Even the most minimilistic decor lovers of us, still have stuff. Our hosts, Woha! So much stuff. Which included a whole lot of dirt on the floor, half eaten food in the fridge, toiletries in the shower and bathroom and even dirty dishes hidden away (at the last minute maybe?) in the oven. It was a very lived in apartment.

We spent the first half an hour after our hosts left, cleaning. Not exactly what you want to do on holiday but unfortunately I just can’t live in muck and mess. We also bought a sheet to sleep on as the satin-ish polyester sheet was just not going to cut it for us. Thankfully we also brought our own towels along. The experience was all round fairly grim. It was only three days and once we had cleaned it was a bit better.

On the other end of our trip we booked a cute studio for three days in Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. Unlike for Rio where our options were limited, here we chose the area and an apartment over a hotel as we figured we’d be wrapped up in wedding festivities and not hanging out in a hotel much. This apartment is clearly an investment for the older lady who runs it only for holiday or similar rentals. She takes such pride and care in the apartment. Everything was very clean, matching utensils and bed linen, a printed booklet of information on buenos aires highlights and even little shampoos in the bathroom for the guests. It was like a little hotel room at half the price for the area.

Airbnb is an awesome concept as it opens up many more places to stay at often a reduced price of all the inflated hotels in top areas. For owners, it creates a whole new market for customers and short-term rentals.

Our experience was 50/50 though. In future, I’d probably pull the princess card and only stay in those apartments that aren’t normally lived in by the host. It feels way to odd to live amongst someone else’s’ belongings (and grime in our experience).


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