Home Sweet Airbnb

· Why Airbnbs are so great ·

Symonds House in Wirksworth, England. Two small, but extremely cute and comfortable Airbnbs live in the back garden

Isn’t it funny to think that just a few years ago our only option for accommodation while traveling was a hotel or hostel? It’s crazy to imagine that world when Airbnb has become an excellent second option for your home away from home. And that’s really what they are – a home. While some of them may not have all of the comforts of a hotel, what they lack in pools and room service, they make up for in personality and connection. Airbnbs have opened up the world and allowed us a glimpse into the local culture that you can’t get in a hotel.

In a sort of “see how the other half live” kind of way, Airbnb allows you to “live” how locals live, and more often than not, it’s a unique property. If you’ve ever explored a new place and wondered what the houses look like on the inside, you know why Airbnbs are such a great option. Rather than exploring a new place then going back to a sterile, cookie-cutter hotel, you can stay in that 18th-century manor house or the loft downtown, or sometimes even that castle.

The private entrance to the back garden and Airbnbs so guests don’t have to go through the house

Take, for instance, Wirksworth, England. A tiny town in the Peak District, we stayed in a quaint apartment attached to the town’s central home, an 18th-century manor house that once belonged to the town lawyer. We arrived and spent some time inside the house itself as our host gave us tips for the area. Walking through the gorgeous hallway, we went out into the garden where our tiny apartment awaited us. Name “The Brew House,” so most likely an old beer cellar or something similar, the little room had everything we needed: a bed on a loft, a wet room, and a little sitting area with a sink, microwave, kettle, and toaster. But in addition, we also got access to the Grade II* listed gardens, a Harry-Potter-style key to the hidden doorway and we got to see inside a home we might not have otherwise.

This story is not unique. So many of the properties available on Airbnb have similar experiences: whether it be a loft apartment in the heart of Barcelona or a castle in the English countryside. Where before Airbnb we could only walk by these unique properties and wonder what was inside, with Airbnb we actually have the chance to live in them, if only for a short time.

Not only do we get to live there, but we get to meet some local people. Many Airbnb hosts are exactly that – hosts who welcome you to their homes and give you advice about the area. It allows you to meet someone who lives in the area and knows where to go. They can give you advice and just have a chat. I once stayed in an Airbnb in Roundwood, Ireland who picked us up from the bus and chatted with us for hours both in the evening and over breakfast. We got to talk about her life and our life and have a little taste of Irish hospitality. In the morning, she drove us to the beginning of our hike. She was lovely and it was so great to make a real connection with someone in Ireland.

Sunrise in Roundwood, Ireland from an Airbnb

Similarly, in Wirksworth, our host gave us fabulous recommendations for the local area, a small town that we would have struggled to find places to go to. He recommended a French restaurant, Le Mistral, where I had one of the best dinners I’ve ever had and a quirky craft beer bar. We may not have found this place without his recommendation because it was in an old house, but we seriously would have missed out.

And that’s why Airbnbs are so great. They allow you to meet local people and stay in local properties and eat and drink where the locals drink. Rather than staying at a honeypot hotel and getting honeypot recommendations from the front desk, Airbnbs allow you to get a little slice of local life. And for that, it starts to feel like home.

View of Wirksworth from Symonds House. Just down the street on the left is The Feathered Star, a fabulous, quirky craft beer joint recommended to us by our host


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