Having returned from two airbnb.com stays in Europe (Paris & Berlin) I am delighted to say I will be booking my next holiday through the airbnb website again.
The concept of airbnb is brilliant and I believe it did shape our holiday experience. We booked and paid the funds 6 months before our departure on their easy to navigate website. The reviews, pictures and Google maps definitely helped us in making the final selection of accommodation. I was a little nervous about our expectations versus the apartment and whether everything would be legit when we turned up in six months time, after all this website had only been up and running since 2008. I have always been a hotel booker so this concept of booking a place directly with an owner was completely new and exciting for me. I followed the activities of the apartment by reading the regular reviews in the months leading up to the holiday and they all checked out with the owner’s description.
A few weeks beforehand the hosts made contact for our arrival details and once they had these details they then emailed through detailed instructions to reach the apartment. Communication with the hosts was through emails; we had never spoken on the phone and I guess we had no reason to until we arrived.
On one occasion our trains were delayed so I texted the Richard our Paris host and he changed the meeting time without any complaints. Waiting for the owner at the bottom of the apartment stairs felt like the blind date that I had never been on, every person walking up the street towards us we contemplated whether it was the owner. The handover of the keys was swift with the hosts telling us about the locality. Both hosts offered their assistance during the stay and were more than willing to answer any questions.
In Paris we stayed in a tiny one room apartment on the top floor of a true Parisian building, meaning 7 flights of stairs with no elevator and a lively café downstairs literally at our doorstep. The apartment had one window that gave us a good view of the roof tops, something unique I thought. The apartment was located in the à la mode arrondissements of Bastille, in the midst of cafes, patisseries, brassieres, bars and restaurants. Tourists were absent and the morning Café Au Lait at the local bars became customary. Nearby were the Richard Lenoir markets and a mini side show alley with what I considered to be the greatest serving waffles, churros and crepes merchant I have ever been to! Here is the link to Richard’s Apartment.
In Berlin we stayed in a spacious 3 room (bedroom/living room, kitchen and bathroom) apartment in the leafy tree town of Prenzlaurberg and a few streets away from where the Berlin wall once stood. The apartment was in a typical Berlin building block and was one of two apartments on the second floor. It had recently been renovated with high ceilings, wood floors, french doors revealing a balcony and was also tastefully decorated with retro furniture. Berlin is a fairly spread out city with a number of city centres and Prenzlaurberg is one of those. Our apartment was a street away from the train, shops, coffee places, bars and restaurants. After being out and about for most of the days we always had plenty of choices for food and drinks in the area. Around the corner was Konnopkes Imbiss, a long running family business serving the best Currywurst. We noticed most of the people in the area using bicycle’s and had we of hired a few we would have had room to store them downstairs. Here is the link to Maria’s apartment.