My dad gets really excited when when modern, gig/sharing-economy type organizations come to Buffalo, which is my hometown and where he still lives. Years ago, when Buffalo got food trucks, he called right away to let me know. Around the same time, the city was redoing the harbor to make it a place for festivals and a place people want to spend time in general. He thought a combination of those two amenities would make me consider moving back there. Then Buffalo got bicycle sharing and then Uber, and he called me each of those times to let me know how cool Buffalo was becoming. I’m happy for Buffalo. I love that city. But the taxes and lack of good jobs and the snow…oh my god the snow. The gray, miserable, long, icy, humid winters. No. I just can’t.
But I digress.
My dad’s latest report was about AirBnB. It’s been active in Buffalo awhile, but the Buffalo News ran a story over the summer about locals’ good and bad experiences with it. He was certain I had used it before, which I have, and wanted to compare my experiences with what the paper was reporting. And so I thought, why stop with the conversation with my dad? Why not share some of my good and bad experiences here?
Most of my AirBnB stays have been exactly what I expected when I booked them. The place was as-described and there was nothing unusual or remarkable. But there have been some standouts, both for better and for worse. So without preamble, here are the five best AirBnB experiences I’ve had in my five years of using the service.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
This is what you dream of when you picture a romantic Hawaiian getaway. One of the first AirBnB places I stayed at, the Rainforest Hideaway remains my favorite. It’s so nice I wrote about it twice! I rarely travel to the same place twice, but this place could tempt me to do so. The house is tastefully decorated in a tropical style, the living room is lightly enclosed by screened windows that let the sounds of the jungle waft in with the breeze, there are two outdoor seating areas to enjoy the gorgeous flowers and plants while eating the meals you can make in the well-stocked and stylish kitchen, and, while there is a clean, full bathroom indoors, you can also shower outside because it’s Hawaii and you’re in a private retreat surrounded by dense forest on all sides, so why wouldn’t you?
This place made the list for its uniqueness. I mean, it’s a treehouse after all! It’s only a 10 minute drive into town (down a four-wheel drive required road) and yet enough in the thick of the jungle that it seemed plausible a jaguar could be creeping around the downstairs in the pitch black night. In reality, we saw only a few unusual frogs and not that many insects, which was a good thing because the mosquito net didn’t really enclose the bed. The place is pretty bare bones in terms of supplies, but there is enough to cook some basic meals with. The bed is comfortable and the seating areas are perfect for taking some time off from all the snorkeling and hiking in the area.
Why stay in a stinky and crowded hostel in Talkeetna when you can stay in this fabulous yurt? It’s in a peaceful and quiet wooded area, but close to town and transportation to basecamps for climbing Denali. It is well decorated and stocked with everything you need to keep warm and cook a decent meal. The non-stinky outhouse has no door, so you can shit while facing the great outdoors and how often do you get to do that? (Note, there is no running water, though water is supplied for you.) The small front deck has ample seating, an arsenal to combat the airplane-sized mosquitoes, and a plexiglass roof to maintain the woodsy ambiance while shielding you from the rain. I spent a long time sitting out there in the evening, much longer than I realized since I was there in the beginning of July and the sun was out until midnight.
This place was an unbelievable score. For only $40 a night, you get a newly remodeled apartment in an old Italian villa on a farm. It’s more beautiful than the pictures show. Hardwood floors, fireplace, large kitchen and dining table, spacious bathroom, and comfortable beds. The family who lives in the main house is incredibly sweet and helpful. You are welcome to walk around the farm and feed the goats. It is slightly out of the way of anything and everything, but if you don’t mind a little drive through farmland, it makes a good base for exploring Padua, Verona (where I’ve decided I must live someday, even just for half a year), and all the castles and walled cities of the Eugenean Hills.
It’s a chuckwagon! How stinking cute is this?? Staying here is almost like being a pioneer, except you have all the creature comforts of modern day, including the most amazing farm fresh breakfast brought over to you from the main house in a Red Flyer wagon. I’m talking fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, hardboiled eggs from the owner’s chickens, fresh baked zucchini bread, and all-natural yogurt from the neighbor’s cow with a smorgasbord of a dozen different toppings for it. Inside, there isn’t room for much more than a very comfortable bed, some shelves well stocked with tourist brochures and dad-joke books, a kitchenette, and a real wood burning stove that heats up the little interior very quickly. There are two outdoor seating areas that look out on the chicken and goat pens. You may be wondering about the bathroom. You can use the beautifully tiled bathroom with a shower that has incredible water pressure in the main house, but, as the host will inform you, you are also welcome to pee outside if you like. Dolores is a little out of the way of everything, but if you happen to be in the area to see the Four Corners or Mesa Verde, you should absolutely stay here.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Stay tuned next week for my five worst AirBnB experiences!