I recently booked time at an Airbnb residence in the Ventura/Oxnard, California area, which is about 60 miles from my home. My plan was to drive to the beach early in the weekend and then stay overnight at this person’s home, leaving late in the day on Sunday. I must admit, booking time at an Airbnb was a bit perplexing: I was not sure it was “safe,” I was concerned about whether it would be awkward staying with someone I didn’t know, and I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I only knew that other people had done it before me and they had survived!
For those who have limited knowledge of Airbnb, it is a booking service for travelers seeking to rent a room, an apartment, a home or a shared space in a private residence. Airbnb is now worldwide – you can rent a private room in an English castle, a cozy cabin in the Netherlands, stay on a boat in Ventura harbor, or in a yurt or an RV, somewhere in the United States. There are many, many options available, ranging in price from cheap to luxurious. The main draw for people booking through Airbnb, in my opinion, is that it offers a host of options that weren’t previously available and at a lower cost than most motels.
Anyway, back to my story: My choice was to rent a room in a private home in Ventura near the beaches that I love to visit. The cost was a mere $66.00 for the night, which included the taxes and fees. I got to see photos of the place before I booked and I also got to read a number of reviews about the host, which were all exceptionally positive. With that tidbit of information, I set off to explore my first Airbnb experience.
I started my day by heading to one of my favorite beaches to cool off. While there, I received a text from the host, asking when I would be ‘checking in.’ I texted him back that I would be there between 4:30 and 5 p.m. That was my first point of communication with him. Later, I met “A.,” a young man in his 30’s with a ponytail, who showed me my room and the different amenities available. He was very thorough in his explanation of everything and had prepared a small pile of brochures on different attractions in the area. By my bed were two bottles of water and some candies. On the table was the house key, a remote control for the ceiling fan, the code for his Wi-Fi and some sightseeing books. After showing me where the towels were in the bathroom, he invited me to join him and his girlfriend for a glass of wine, then departed, leaving me to my privacy.
So far, so good, I thought. He’s respectable, very professional, and he obviously cares about his customers.
A little later on, after a shower and a change of clothes, I was introduced to his other house guest who were renting a room and a couch from him. I then left to join some friends for dinner and headed out for the evening. When I returned, a few hours later, he and his girlfriend, “L.,” greeted me and asked how my dinner was. We then had a nice conversation about his residence, neighbors, and the amenities offered at his complex. Being a news reporter by trade, I asked a lot of questions, which they didn’t seem to mind answering. One had to do with his mention of the facility’s salt water pool.
Now I’ve never been in a salt water pool and that sounded very cool. So I asked whether I might be able to try it the following day. A. told me that they normally don’t bring their guests over to the pool because it’s reserved for residents, but seeing that I was really interested, he said he’s make it happen.
That night, I enjoyed one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time. The air was cool, the complex was exceptionally quiet, and the bed was extraordinarily comfortable! When I awoke, there were pastries laid out on the kitchen table and coffee waiting to be made on the counter. It really felt like I was in my own home, for all intents and purposes.
Later that morning, I got to experience the salt water pool where you can float effortlessly, suspended in the salt water like a balloon. It was heaven!
I indulged myself in another shower at A.’s place before leaving. To my surprise, they greeted me with homemade lemonade and hors d’oevres before I left. I was not hurried out but treated like a member of their family. This was probably because they didn’t have a booking for that night, so there wasn’t a firm timeframe for check out.
I eventually left at around 2 p.m. that afternoon and when I did, A. told me that I would be welcomed back again, should I like to stay with them – and you know, I think I will. As someone who has traveled a bit, I definitely know what I like and what I don’t like.
I’ve stayed in very nice hotels where I’ve paid a lot more and still had to deal with noise issues from traffic and neighbors. I’ve also stayed in hotels in major cities where parking was expensive or non-existent. And let’s not forget the campground experiences where I’ve had people keep me up all night because they wanted to party till the cows come home.
Unfortunately, you can’t pick your neighbors – it’s always a roll of the dice – even in expensive hotels.
For the price of my Airbnb, I got a great location in a private home with really nice, caring hosts who did everything they possibly could to make my visit comfortable. So for my first Airbnb review, I’m going to give it 5 stars. If you are interested in experiencing Airbnb, it helps to go into it with an open mind. For the record, I got more than I paid for!