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Lovely remote Airbnb in Joshua Tree
It’s taken a while, and a spell at rock bottom, but it’s happened. It’s over. I’m in recovery. I am no longer addicted to Airbnb.
When it launched, I loved the idea of Airbnb. Good hotels are wonderful, of course, but they’re also unaffordable for many people. On the other hand, few things are as dispiriting in travel as staying in a mediocre hotel with uninformed, unmotivated staff. Airbnb promised a local experience with locals who cared. What was not to love?
My first Airbnb hit was in Moscow. In a city where even a budget hotel costs around $300, I stayed in a world-famous Stalinist skyscraper for $130. Sure, there was no hot water but there was history – an infinite amount. (Plus the guy refunded me $80 for the lack of water.)
I went on to have better and better experiences. A stunning midcentury house in Palm Springs – an entire house – for less than a room at the Parker. A cabin on its own 15-acre desert plot in Joshua Tree. A gorgeous apartment in Warsaw.
But this summer I fell out of love.
Call it the Airbnb effect. Private rentals are booming right now, even amongst traditional hotel stayers (right now, for example, we’re writing this from a Greek island, in a house we booked on Homeaway because it was half the price of the hotels we looked at).
Spanish chain Room Mate is, of course, ever hip and always trendy – and now it’s following the trend with the launch of Bemate.com, a private rental site. “The way we travel has changed,” they say on the intro video on the website. “Now we want to feel at home anywhere… We want to be as local as the locals.”
BeMate launched yesterday with 2500 apartments (“handpicked”, according to the chain, though that is, of course, one of the most overused words of the past few years). Right now, it’s in cities where Room Mate already has a presence; by the end of the year, it plans to cover 150 cities, including London.
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Hotel Bristol, your token five star
Warsaw. It may not be top of your European breaks wishlist (hell, it probably loses out to Krakow in your Poland wishlist, too), but it does have one thing going for it – it was recently judged the European city with the cheapest five star hotels.
Actually, there’s far more to say for Warsaw than that. Flights are uniformly cheap (last year we flew from London on Ryanair for £18, or $29 return – yes, total), and while some of the modern city is grim, the Old Town is gorgeous, plus there’s loads of interesting history, the 1944 Uprising Museum and Jewish Museum for starters.
So yes, you definitely want to go to Warsaw. And here are some of our favorite places to stay. They’re not all five star hotels – but then, you can probably find your own five star hotel, right?
Legislation that was passed at the end of July will officially go into effect this weekend in Portland, Oregon, legalizing short-term home rentals. As AirBnb has come under attack from the hotel industry and city governments across the country, Portland has decided to legally address how residents can use their house as a source of income.
Emphasis on the world "house," as the law includes individual houses, duplexes, and accessory dwelling units but excludes condos and apartments, even if the unit is owned. The reason for this, according to Oregon Live, is that "under the city's interpretation of the state building code, [apartment and condo buildings] would have to meet similar safety requirements as commercial hotels. Few apartment and condo buildings would live up to that standard." The law also does not include the renting out of the entire home - only a portion of it, such as a bedroom or two.
The law requires that the renter file for a permit from the city, which will cost $180 per year. The owners of the property must live on-site for at least nine months a year, limit the length of stays to less than 30 days, and agree to 1) inform their neighbors of their rental contracts and 2) allow for safety inspections by the city. The owners of the home get to keep the profits of their rentals, minus an 11.5% occupancy tax that is collected and paid to the city by the rental agency (AirBnb, for example).
About a year ago, we took a look at the booming business that is AirBnB and wondered if hotels were threatened by the growing tendency for people to prefer private residences to hotel rooms. Well, if there's any question about whether the hotel industry is taking the new market segment seriously, look no further than Four Seasons recent launch of a vacation rental website.
Now, it is not exactly like renting some random apartment in New York City. The properties are all vetted by Four Seasons, and more significantly, they are essentially extensions of the brand in that you can still get many of the amenities that you would at a hotel, including housekeeping, in-room (house) spa treatments, stocked fridge, etc.
We've long known that Airbnb wants to "disrupt" (gag) the hotel industry but we found this recent social media posting from its founder, Brian Chesky, rather bold.
Captured by Valleywag on the Frontback app, the image shows a picture of Chesky's girlfriend in an Airbnb pad with a note attached to a bouquet of flowers that says, "Fuck Hotels."
Hmm...we wonder what Chesky's partner, Chip Conley would have to say about that, given that Chip made his fortune off of his Joie de Vivre hotel company, which he later sold off but in which he's still a part-owner of about 15 hotels. #notcool
Social media takedown aside, Airbnb is incredibly useful in many ways--for folks on a budget, or for hosts who have extra space in their houses and apartments and in areas with limited hotel rooms or too-high hotel rates. But we hope Chesky realizes that he can never stay in a hotel ever again. Never.
And now, we'll be waiting for a hotel's answer to Airbnb. (Hint: you can start with that room and its dubious comforter.)
[Image via Valleywag]
Back in the spring, we took an in-depth look at Airbnb and its appeal to travelers. We saw how its affordability might become a threat to higher-priced hotels, and we wondered how the industry would respond to the up and coming competition. Travelers, it seems, are really liking the idea of playing house at someone else's place, especially when it costs significantly less than a hotel.
Well, it looks like the City of New York has the hotel industry's back. According to the Associated Press, the city is tired of losing what it could be gaining in lodging tax if Airbnb users stayed at hotels, and last week Attorney General Eric Schneiderman demanded the company turn over a list of residents who are using the site on the basis that they are breaking a state law by renting out their apartments. In New York, it is illegal for someone to sublet their apartment for less than 30 days if they are not also present.
Man, this one is going to get ugly, as Airbnb is a fan favorite with the general population to say the least, and has saved travelers mucho dinero across the globe. But when it comes at the expense of the government, we all know how that story ends.
There's tons of hotel news flying around today and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so here is a quick rundown to get you up to speed on the latest.
· Mondrian Soho Is Really No Mo' But Morgans Won't Go Down Without a Fight: In June, we heard whispers that the Mondrian Soho was in danger of losing its Mondrian name. And now, it's official. A Delaware court ordered parent company, Morgans Hotel Group, out of the hotel. However, Morgans isn't going without a fight. NY Daily New's Confidential column got a hand on some of the court filings between Morgans and property owner, Suchin Downtown Realty, and it's ugly.
Morgans has alleged that the hotel owners cut costs, including the elimination of an extra generator which really could have come in handy when Sandy happened and by skimping on the size of the penthouse suite. Meanwhile, Suchin says that Morgans mismanaged the property, causing it to place last in REVPAR results compared to its competition.
Right now, Morgans is appealing the decision and apparently, it's business as usual at the hotel. Rates start this weekend at $409 a night.
Check out more interesting hotel news after the jump!
Art Frommer, Editor of Frommers, recently put out a post discussing the idea that hotels might be a "dying breed." We've talked about this very same issue on this site as well, specifically the growing popularity of Airbnb and whether or not hotels should be afraid of this new preference many travelers seem to have for vacation and apartment rentals.
We know that hotels are obviously concerned -- and Frommer points out that they might be heading up the legislation against short-term apartment rentals -- but we don't think they're going anywhere anytime soon. Our thoughts are that while the surge in vacation and apartment rentals has the chance to change the hotel industry, these changes are going to occur very gradually. The biggest aspects have to do with logistics. Even if everyone wanted to rent a private home or apartment, there just aren't enough to accommodate the sheer volume of travelers. Then there's the fact of location. Many tourists want to stay in the areas where the hotels are located -- not off in some random neighborhood.
That all said, let's look at how things could play out. In the short term, hotels may experience a rough patch where they will cater more towards luxury and business travelers than the other segment as they try to figure out how to remain at their previous profit levels. We've already seen this with the regular presence of resort fees and increasing rates.
Although it's been around for a couple years now, the chatter surrounding Airbnb has picked up in the last few months due to its now undeniable presence within the lodging industry. According to Yahoo News, Airbnb listings -- aka rooms for rent -- have risen from 10,000 at the end of 2009 to 300,000 across 192 countries today. At the end of last year, the numbers suggested Airbnb would surpass Hilton in number of rooms booked. That's a serious growth spurt!
Clearly, Airbnb's rise in popularity shows it is no longer an option only for hippies and free spirits, a fact that has caught the attention of some within the hotel industry. The big question becomes: Can Airbnb really pose a threat to hotel revenue and occupancy? Well, given that both business and leisure travelers are using the service, hell yes it can!
Price, variety, and the idea of having an authentic experience seem to be driving Airbnb's success as travelers look to not only save money but to immerse themselves locally while on the road.
We just caught wind of a bed & breakfast in northern Germany, via our friends at Psfk, where guests can tuck into 100 year old beer barrels come bedtime. As in, the barrel is the bed. Hm, now that's our kind of themed room!
The nameless hotel, listed on AirBnB, snagged a few extra-large barrels from the local Potts Naturpark Brauerei (established 1769) and creatively converted them into cozy double beds in its three "beer rooms." The brewery used the barrels to age and transport malt beer from the 19th century all the way until 1995. (They're so old, we bet you can still smell the hops!).
As if the beds weren't crazy enough, there's even an on-site beer barrel-turned-sauna. And of course, a cold brewski is offered as a nightcap. Each of the rooms is also tricked out with a 32 inch flatscreen, DVD player, free WiFi, and massage jet shower. Got the morning munchies? "Breakfast in barrel" is on tap for 20 euros per person.
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Have you ever booked a stay through Airbnb? If yes, then skip to the next paragraph. If not, here's a quickie backgrounder: started four years ago, the vacation rental site allows travelers all over the world to book stays in other people's apartments and homes—just like a hotel room, but often much, much cheaper and a quicker way to connect with locals.
Needless to say, the company is giving hotels a serious run for their money.
How much money, you ask? A recent statistic actually found that by December 31, Airbnb (which is now available in 192 countries) will have surpassed Hilton in number of rooms booked. For evidence, see the below tweet from tech leader Tim O'Reilly: