2015 was the year that I really decided to focus on Airbnb for my trips. I had previously considered the site as a second option for when hotels were too expensive, but now that’s the first place I look.
So far I haven’t had any bad experiences – and you can have truly unique experiences: a view over a canal in Venice and the most amazing riad in Marrakech are among the best places I’ve ever stayed.
Everyone will tell you that the key to booking a place through Airbnb is to check the reviews. But I realised that my experience is also determined by another factor which can only be assessed on arrival: the kitchen cupboards.
The main appeal of staying in an apartment is that you feel like you almost live in the city you’re visiting; you can stay where locals live and relax without any of the formalities of a hotel. And part of that is, of course, cooking your own food.
We stayed in a nice flat in Toronto for five days. In the kitchen I found everything I needed and more: lots of pasta, an incredible variety of tea and spices, and many unopened jam jars. I made sure to reorganise everything – a bit much, I know, but that’s exactly what I’d to at home.
At the other extreme was the very well-located flat in Berlin. We arrived quite late, and after a mix-up with the keys, we got to the flat past midnight. I opened the cupboards in the kitchen to find them completely empty. I’m not saying that hosts should provide fully stocked cupboards, but all that white space made me wonder: what do they do with all the leftover salt?
Surely at least once a week someone buys some salt alongside with some other supplies, and most of that goes unused. Why not leave it for the next guests, along with sugar, cooking oil and maybe some other basics?
As with everything else, it’s the little things that make a huge difference. Sometimes, all you need for good hospitality is being able to make yourself a cup of tea on arrival.