My college student son left his bank of handmade servers, monitors, laptops and homemade computers which have made his bedroom a thermal hot spot on the NSA's satellite map. He made this rare personal appearance to ask if I had heard of AirBNB. I pled ignorance lest I be implicated in some diabolical scheme to hack into something I didn't understand. Apparently he and a virtual acquaintance had been looking for cheap places to stay during their pilgrimage to the Fortress of Solitude.
(Yeah, penance for my sins, I got it)
It turns out that AirBNB is a legit business which advertises privately owned rentals throughout the world. It is an interesting idea and I promised to check it out when I had an opportunity. They wanted really cheap places to stay and I thought what better place to test it than Boston? So that was a challenge. I had looked at the website, searched Boston and found daily rentals available from as little as $35 to $500 per night. Now my imagination was piqued. What can one get for $35 per night in Boston? In case you haven't heard, Boston ain't cheap, or inexpensive or even barely affordable. So 35 bucks sounds just impossible. Fully expecting a roach infested hovel in a crime ridden slum full of hookers and junkies, I booked it.
The house was located in Sommerville, a lower middle class neighborhood which was full of close, well maintained houses. It looked as if Peter Parker had grown up there.
I was shown a three bedroom flat, with common living, kitchen and bath areas.
Strange, the photos I took were exactly like the ones the owners posted on the website.
The place was very homey and so immaculate I found myself straightening and picking things up
like a neurotic raccoon.
There were 4 others staying there. I didn't meet them for a day and a half because we were all busy. I felt as if I had the place to myself. The second evening I met a couple from Rochester NY visiting Boston for a wedding and a pair of independent jewelry makers from London who were traveling on business. We were all in the apartment together late one night which provided a chance to sit up, discuss and solve most of the worlds problems engaging our various points of view. I think the historical society of Boston will have to register the home and install a plaque to commemorate the occasion.
Overall I was very pleased with the experience. The price was great, the place clean, the neighborhood safe, quiet and convenient. The experience was very much like the family owned hotels I had visited in Europe. Simple, private bedrooms with common baths on each floor and a friendly, well furnished living or sitting area to share.
AirBNB will be the first place I look when credit card touring, or any other type of travel for that matter.
One thing that I noticed was that the tenants were either foreign or had traveled extensively abroad. The big deal in America seems to be the need for a private bath. That is how Europeans differentiate between "American" and European lodgings. A fair comparison would be the Holiday Inn in Sommerville which would have charged me $200 per night. I would not have used the room anymore, would have missed some very interesting companionship when I did and would not have had a kitchen,
but for the extra $495 I would have a personal space to do pooh-pooh.