It was my first experience with Airbnb, visiting the States for ten long days, I decided to give this famous system a try. I've heard good things about this growing company which, alongside UBER, has literally changed the world of travel and tourism.
I downloaded the app, located my points of interest and searched around them for a reservation. A home, a house, a small flat, it all depended on the nice images and the number of rooms and bathrooms. After an extensive search around New York, I found a large flat owned by Josh. https://airbnb.com/rooms/1840303.
On the page, the photos looked amazing. Walls painted in vibrant colors, a large sofa, funky rooms, art decorates the walls but, when I checked the booking and dates, I was told that the apartment was taken and that another flat was available at the same price. This house was Brian's, but Josh continued all the communication as if it was his. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/8307846.
Key was with the doorman, easily found, we went up to apartment 11I, Number 200 on 33rd and 3rd. A nice apartment but no colors and I believe Brian has to improve the quality of the images posted on the page. The place is certainly better than the images.
The location is premium. You are minutes from a series of good restaurants, the Empire State, Union Square is down the street and the United Nations is nearby. It's right in the heart of New York City.
One large room and three bedrooms of which one comes with a living room, separated with a wooden panel. A fully equipped kitchen, two bathrooms and a television. An Apple TV is installed, there's free and speedy Internet and a kitchen with a welcome kit. Coffee, chips and some spices. Towels, paper napkins and trash bags. Additional pillows and bed sheets. In the bathroom, shampoo was waiting, as well as soap.
The things I liked were the TV channels, the water pressure, the spacious kitchen, the location, the relaxing bed and pillows and flat decoration and warmth and Josh's quick response to all messages.
I didn't like the old air conditioning units and their unpleasant sound.
Josh messaged us to make sure we arrived and to ask if everything was ok; two gestures I appreciated. $4,420 for 5 nights, that's around $885/night all inclusive, dividing it between 5 people made it a great value for money in the heart of New York.
A recommended flat.
Now was Chicago's turn. We booked a house, an individual one owned by Julie who I understood afterwards lives in the Netherlands. She was very slow at replying to messages, but that wasn't of a big issue.
Her house is wonderful. A complete two storey house, three rooms, three bathrooms, a large living room, a kitchen and a table to share happy moments with the family. It has a terrace up front and a big garden at the back, many windows letting day light access pleasantly and an upper floor with a big master bedroom and its large bathroom. A shower and a bathtub add value to the house.
What I also liked about the house was the price of this beauty that's only 30 minutes away from downtown Chicago. I enjoyed the rooms and the beds, the big bathroom, the kitchen fully equipped with utensils and the chimney that's easily lit.
I didn't like the water pressure that wasn't too strong, and the host who took so long to answer her messages, she didn't ask if we arrived safely, didn't ask about our stay for the whole duration, but remembered to send a message to put off the lights and throw the garbage. I expected more of a personalized and caring service.
As a house, I'd surely recommend it.
My friends continued to Miami, to a place called the Meridien 1818 https://airbnb.com/rooms/2471346 which has beautiful pictures posted, goes for a reasonable price, a two minutes walk from the convention center and had many amenities but only a single bathroom.
As a first, Airbnb amazed me. As a loyal customer of Booking.com for the last ten years or so, I think I have a new favorite. Everything was easy, the hosts were professional, the homes were clean and everything was made through the tap of an application without having to show passports or stand in line at receptions.
A first time with Airbnb, and surely not the last.