So just what is Airbnb?
Yes, we celebrated our 16th anniversary in a stranger's house. Yes, we ate dinner with them. Yes, we had a wonderful time. And this is how it all happened. . .
After having a Bed and Breakfast in Santa Fe cancel our reservation, we were in a bit of a crunch to find a place to celebrate our anniversary. We looked at dozens of online listings, but prices were either too high, or required a two night stay.
A friend suggested we try looking on Airbnb and we saw a number of listings in Santa Fe, but one particular home in Jemez Springs caught my eye. Tucked up into the mountains, it was my perfect idea of a weekend getaway. So, what's the catch?
According to the Airbnb website:
Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet.
Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.
Ok, sounds good, but what does that mean for me and Bob? I wasn't at all sure I was up for staying in a home with people I don't know. Running out of other options, we decided to take the plunge. Now, I'm so glad that we did.
We stayed in the beautiful home of Miguel and Dee. We had a large bedroom and connected bathroom to ourselves. Several decks provided breathtaking views of the mountains. Yet, the host couple ended up playing as important a role as did the accommodations.
This retired couple has three adult children who no longer live with them (though one was back at home for a summer internship). Being empty nesters, they decided that they'd like the opportunity to meet new people, and opened up their house for room rental on the Airbnb site. They talked of meeting a huge mix of personalities, from those who are quiet and want very little interaction, to those who have become friends. I believe we fall toward the latter end of that scale.
We prepared dinner together. Bob and I made crab cakes and Miguel and Dee made an assortment of Tapas. When it came time to eat, there were six of us at the table, which included the daughter and her friend. The conversation took us around the globe, as we all spoke about visit other nations, our background, and dreams for the future.
After dinner, we were left to enjoy the view from the porch as the young ladies did the dishes. The next morning, we were provided a wonderful breakfast. At our departure, hugs were extended all around.
While I understand that this level of engagement with hosts isn't necessarily the norm, for us, it was just perfect. One of the young women had explained to us that she had stayed in dozens of Airbnb locations and they vary wildly. Sometimes the home is empty and you are given directions how to get in. Other times, hosts are there but disengaged. Still other locations may provide a similar level of enthusiastic reception.
All in all, I would recommend Airbnb as an alternative to traditional bookings through hotels, motels or standard B&Bs. Miguel and Dee have set the bar high, but I would be willing to try again at other locations when the opportunity presents itself.