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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My First Experience with AirBnB

I have mixed thoughts so far on using AirBnB but my first experience this past weekend outside of Boston was probably a bit atypical.
When I posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago that I had booked my first AirBnB stay, many of my friends were surprised I hadn't used it yet. And, being 30 years old and a quasi-regular traveler, I was a bit surprised too.

(our AirBnB kitty rommate)

Then many friends said they had great experiences using it. One of my co-workers loved his stay at an AirBnB location in Denver during his vacation earlier this year. Others had similar experiences. Only one of my friends really brought up that AirBnB has negatives to it too since it brings in strangers to normally quiet, residential areas.
As it happened, I had a bit of a less than quiet first AirBnB stay.
My boyfriend and I arrived at the house just before dusk on Saturday night after spending the day touring area breweries and meeting up with a friend for his 30th birthday. We had dinner reservations back in the city so we didn't stay too long at the BnB in Waltham, just long enough to introduce ourselves to the son of the homeowner (who was out of town) and pick up a key so we could get in later that night.
Karl, the young man's name, was nice enough. I was a little weirded out that he had been playing on his laptop on the bed that we were going to be sleeping in that night. But that uneasiness was quelled when we got back and we both examined the bed to find the sheets were clean and the queen size bed was quite comfortable.

As my boyfriend put it as we were about to go to sleep (around midnight): "It's more comfortable than our bed at home."
When we got back that night, no one else was home so we had the place to ourselves - including a nice kitchen, living room, and friendly kitty.
And then, probably around 2:30 a.m., we were both rudely awakened by other people staying at the BnB that night as well. They were rowdy and very likely drunk.
I was going in and out of dreams since I can pretty much sleep through anything but I had a distinct memory of the youths (I think all guys) drunkenly quoting the U.S. Constitution. "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union..." and once they were done with that I recall a bit of the Declaration of Independence in there too.
Since Jon said he heard the same thing, I guess I was not hallucinating.
I pretty much got right back to sleep, waking up every now and again if they were particularly loud, but Jon said he was pretty much up listening to them all night until they went to bed around 5:30am. He said he also heard them asking if "anyone was rolling" so definitely an interesting group there.

Being adults, my bf or I probably should have just poked our heads out of our private room to ask if they'd be a bit more quiet. Instead, I went back to sleep and dealt with a slightly cranky boyfriend the following day.
We left before the guys woke up but I did meet one 7 foot tall man getting water as we were leaving around 10 a.m.
I emailed the owner about what happened and he said he felt horrible. He initially offered us a free stay if we were ever in the area again and then offered us both a free stay and a refund. I asked him if he'd ever had an issue like this before (my theory was that maybe the son had friends over like this often) but he said no one had complained before - and, I admit, most of the online reviews were great which is why we decided to stay there. Well, that, and the $41 price tag as opposed to paying $200 for a Boston hotel.
But I recently found another review which said the same thing about being woken up by his sons friends early Sunday morning and being startled by people who did not introduce themselves. (which happened to me also with the 7 foot guy)
So, after all of that, will I do AirBnB again?
Jon isn't very keen on the idea. His exact words as he was trying to get back to sleep that night were: "Never again." But I have a feeling this might be a fluke. While, yes, AirBnB isn't perfect, what is? I think I'm more interested in trying AirBnB again for a longer stay when we can get to know the owners and get a fun, local feel - which is what the site seems to be all about. Plus, who wouldn't rather pay $50 for a stay in a big city instead of $200?
As it happens, AirBnB is being threatened in New York State. You can read a bit more about that here.


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