For my weekend excursion in Edinburgh this past autumn, I was encouraged to forgo my reliable three-star hotels options and try Airbnb.
As a world traveler, I’ve stayed in various types of accommodations and lodgings — from high-end hotel suites, to Motel 6s, to hostels, to cardboard boxes.
Let’s just say life experiences have created a certain … well … attitude when it comes to choosing my travel lodgings. Face it — I’m a diva when it comes to my accommodations and its amenities.
When selecting my accommodations, it must have the following:
- Excellent security, both external and internal (i.e. safe in room; double locks).
- An elevator, especially if the building has more than three floors.
- A large bed. A single bed is okay, but only if the price is right.
- Television with cable/satellite, and at least three channels in English (and not all News channels). Yes, this is important. I’ve been to countries where I Love Lucy was the only show in English. As much as I love Lucy, her antics do wear thin.
- Most importantly – the room must have a private bathroom. Sorry, but I spent my entire youth, college years and early 20s sharing a bathroom. I don’t care what my mom told me – when it comes to the bathroom — I AM NOT SHARING! GET YOUR OWN!
I initially scoffed at the Airbnb suggestion. No, it wasn’t because of my diva-ness. It because my previous attempts were … well, I’ll just say it was very DISCRIMINATING my previous attempts were not successful. This left me with very nasty tasty in my mouth for Airbnb.
Still, my friends encouraged me to give Airbnb another try. “You might have better luck internationally,” they said. So I gave it another go and narrowed the choices to three lodgings that met my criteria for accommodations.
The first and second choices weren’t chosen. The first had been booked two seconds before I submitted my booking request. I was a little testy about that, but moved on.
Upon further inquiry regarding my second option, I discovered the proof wasn’t in the pudding, to paraphrase an old saying. The photos of the lodgings were fantastic, but upon further research, I learned this was actually a “private” hotel and there were additional “fees” not spelled out until after booking the “nonrefundable” accommodation. No thank you!
I’d decided if the third choice didn’t work out, I’d say forget Airbnb and stick with my 3-star hotel options. However, luck hadn’t yet abandoned me. The third choice was still available, and even offered a modest cancellation policy — 100% free cancellation up to 21 days before check-in. I also lucked out because the 1-bedroom flat was in Grassmarket and offered a nice view of Edinburgh Castle.
As I didn’t know the capital well, I used the castle as my point of reference from which I based all excursions from (i.e. how far is Princes Street from Edinburgh Castle?). The flat was close to the centre of town, but far enough away. It was also a few blocks from a cinema. Let me tell you, watching a movie in another country is an amazing cultural eye-opener.
Once booked, I received an email from my host Ashlie. Ashlie was nice, friendly and more than willingly to help me enjoy my visit to Edinburgh. The instructions and directions she provided were on point, and her recommendations were magnificent.
After retrieving the keys, and climbing the stairs to the third floor, which is actually the fourth floor, (I’m allowed one silly American moment on every trip), I was surprised at the flat. It wasn’t a bad surprise, but rather a “different from expectation” surprise. The flat was located in a nice apartment complex, which was quiet and well-kept.
This flat was nice, cozy, relaxing and in a great location. It was nice waking up to a view of Edinburgh Castle and knowing I was so close to so many historic buildings and places. I was also close to a grocery store and a few restaurants. The best bit? I was right next door to a book store. A visit to the local bookshop is always on my “to do” list no matter where I’m at in the world.
I enjoyed my stay and highly commend Ashlie for all she did to ensure my holiday in Scotland’s capital was fun and memorable.
So if I enjoyed my stay, why did I title my post the way I did?
While I enjoyed my stay, I couldn’t get comfortable knowing I was in someone else’s home. No matter how much Airbnb advertises to make “yourself at home,” it isn’t “my” home. I knew I should make myself at home as much as possible, but I just couldn’t. I was too afraid to use a dish, glass, silverware, towels, and fireplace. I was so uncomfortable I slept on the couch the first night.
I know folks will come back at me with “well a hotel isn’t your home either.” That’s true, but it’s different. At a hotel, I not uncomfortable or afraid to lie in the bed or use the towels because I know they’re mine to use for the time I’m staying at the hotel. I don’t have to guess because I know that’s the purpose of the hotel. It’s their business.
With Airbnb, it’s always someone else’s home, and you’re a guest. And there is a way a guest acts when in someone else’s home — polite and respectful of other’s property.
Will I use Airbnb again? I might, but only if I’m travelling with friends and hotel prices don’t fit the budget.
Until next, remember …
HAVE PASSPORT, WILL TRAVEL!