I have always wanted to try Air BNB since I enjoy using Uber and find it a great way to connect with people living in a foreign country where I visit. For those who do not know about Air BNB yet, it basically links travellers with locals who rent out their properties and the unique part is that one can actually stay in some unique accommodations like an igloo to chase the Northern Lights to a tree house in country United States. This is what makes Air BNB great and while visiting Wanaka in New Zealand, there are not enough good quality hotels around. Which is why I think Air BNB is a much better option since travellers get to review their hosts.
Searching for accommodation on Air BNB is simple as it has a very good mobile app on top of its easy-to-navigate website. The search results can be refined based on map location which makes it easier to limit results, but the exact location of the lodging is only provided after a reservation has been made. While reserving certain lodgings, the booking cannot be confirmed immediately as it takes time for the host to check for availability. Travellers need to double check on the house rules and what is included as the variation is a lot wider compared to booking a hotel, and more importantly, the cancellation policy can vary from host to host. Some hosts are more flexible but some require a pre-paid stay. As such, it can be more time consuming to search for a suitable accommodation.
On this occasion, I stayed with a local host in a residential area. Since I was driving a rental car, it was no issue as to the location of the room. However it took a bit more time than usual once again as it was beginning to get dark when we arrived. Upon arriving, our host which is a couple living in the house has already prepared a space for us to reverse our car into their lot. We would actually be occupying a guest room connected to the house with its own separate entrance. Unlike checking into a hotel, the room was prepared once we arrived and our host came out to show us the space and explained to us what our stay includes. I would review this stay adding my comparison against staying in a hotel chain and explain what is good and what might be an issue to take note of.
Their house is in a quiet neighbourhood with a small garden with a terrace. Our entrance into the room was by the terrace through a set of sliding glass doors. Inside the room, the first thing guests see is the double bed which has a heated mattress pad for those who are afraid of the cold. The bed itself is moderate in terms of firmness and is cozy enough which is comparable to decent hotel chains.
Beside the bed there was 2 bedside tables while a window was located above the bed. It has to be said the room is not blacked out which means light will enter once day breaks and this can be an issue on summer days when daylight is much longer. This is unlikely to be an issue in hotels where black out curtains are usually the norm.
The rest of the room is fairly basic with a wall mounted flat screen TV in the corner which we did not utilize for our one night stay. Below the TV was a mini-fridge which contains a packet of milk that we could use to make coffee with. Otherwise we used the space to store some fruits which we purchased from the grocery store.
Beside the fridge was an open cabinet which contains some clean mugs, creamers, and packets of instant coffee and tea along with an electric kettle and a toaster at the top for making your own breakfast. There is also a microwave oven should we need to re-heat some food. However aside from the bed there was no other space indoors to eat. Thus the best place would be the wooden furniture on the outdoor terrace which would have been a neat spot for snacks in summer time. Inside the room, there was also a door that leads to the main house but this was locked for privacy (in this case to the host as well).
The door to the bathroom is just beside the bed, directly across from the sliding doors entrance. Inside, it was bright and very functional. I would even rate it much better than some hotel bathrooms that I have been to and this was definitely one reason for my choice in this Air BNB. There was an enclosed shower space, a simple toilet and a towel rack below the window. Water pressure and heater inside was functional and that made it easy for a nice shower during the winter time. The small window made the overall space nicer than the standard toilet as it allowed natural light in the day.
Countertop space was basic and not lacking here either, though guests should note unlike a hotel, there was not much in terms of amenities. Though I believe Air BNB hosts vary in terms of what they provide. In this case it was just a basic hand wash by the vanity sink. Fresh towels were provided on the bed for guests.
Aside from the bathroom, the other feature I liked was the large walk-in closet which could make this space suitable for longer stays as there was plenty of storage. There is also a 3-tier cabinet beside the closet for those needing more space. On the cabinet, there was a note from the hosts containing a map of the town, a listing of good restaurants and amenities that travellers might need with telephone numbers. This helpful list means it was like having a concierge. Guests were able to log-in to the hosts’ wifi with no problems as the password was provided in the details. Wifi speed again would vary from host to host, and in this stay, I experienced no problem even for streaming movies, since we were able to watch Netflix from the TV as well.
From the carpet to the furnishing, it felt like staying in a friend’s home for vacation, and that is by no means bad. I find that warm and felt like home, which made me comfortable. One thing to note is that during winter, the room can feel a bit cold for some compared to hotel rooms which can be warmer. As someone who enjoys colder rooms more, I actually liked it. In the end, while there was a lack of facilities and points for this stay, I did not find myself missing much for the one night stay. In fact if I was to stay more than a week in some remote places, I would rather stay in an Air BNB like this rather than in a hotel. And as you can see, Air BNB does not always compete with hotels and it actually enhances the choices for the modern traveller, providing a place to stay in some of the lesser known towns world-wide. In this new year and on my quest to ski more, I do hope to find more opportunities to stay in other Air BNBs worldwide.