This past weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Paris for the first time. Paris is one of those cities that seems, to me, to be an essential for any real traveler’s experience, but I had never made the time go to, so this was to be a fantastic anniversary weekend.
To make it super special, I didn’t want to get just any old hotel room, nevermind the fact that every hotel in Paris seemed out of our price range. So, I started looking around on Airbnb for an apartment. In case you didn’t read my previous blog on Airbnb, it is a website site that combines accommodation with social networking, allowing regular folk to rent out their apartments or spare rooms to other regular folk for weekends and travel.
This was my first experience with Airbnb and it was a generally positive one. Here’s how it went.
First of all, to give you an idea, this is the property we booked – a small 1 bedroom located right in Montmartre. I booked this particular property because I hadn’t allowed enough advance time and it was one of the few I could get at the right price just a week and a half before our travel dates. It turned out to be pretty fantastic and definitely a place I’d book into again.
Unlike many apartments listed on Airbnb, our host, Benoit, does not actually live in this place, which was a huge selling point to me. Although it may appeal to some, I really did not feel like sharing our anniversary weekend with someone else’s shower grime.
The apartment was well kitted out and had an appropriately Parisian feel, with its creaky hardwood floors and tall windows that overlooked the courtyard of the historic building. Take a look:
Benoit met us in front of the building at well past 10p.m. when we arrived, showed us around and gave us two keys that got us in and out of the building. Perfect! Up the street, we found a small shop and got fruit, eggs, milk and other necessities, duly noting that Benoit had left some salt, pepper and cooking oil for us to utilize the kitchen.
Staying in the apartment really made the Parisian experience real, and it was much more secluded, romantic and generally comfortable than staying in a hotel, where you feel crammed in with hundreds of other tourists. Instead, we could almost fancy ourselves locals buying fresh baguettes and wandering the streets of Montmartre each morning.
Best of all was the price, which actually turned out cheaper than any hotel I could’ve found in the area. Similarly priced hotels would’ve been small, crappy, old, unclean and located quite a ways from the center of Paris. Instead, we were a stone’s throw from the Sacre Coeur and living the Amelie lifestyle for three days. How could it get better?
I would recommend Airbnb to most travelers – anyone that wants a more secluded, more local experience, or just wants to get away from the hotel scene. Just bear in mind when you’re booking that some properties are actually occupied by the people renting them out and be sure to ask questions about extra fees before doing so.