This may be my most controversial post up to date as I will declare something that will be despised by all hipster/cool type travelers. I do not like Airbnb. I would prefer staying at Hilton (even worse – probably even at Holiday Inn or Travelodge or Ibis) rather than staying at an Airbnb place. One of the main reasons I travel is to get disconnected from many things including the concept of feeling at home. So there is no point for me to stay at a place, which still gives me the feeling of being at home but not even mine, someone elses home! Even though all the travelers like to say “oh I want to feel local”, “I don’t want to feel like a tourist” (well if you want to feel local and not like a tourist, just stay at home), I still believe such feeling can be achieved even if you stay at a hotel of your choice and not necessarily at a house. Just don’t go to the most central cafe in the most popular plaza of the town or for certain museums – be careful with your visiting hours (early in the morning, close to the closing time) and you will be fine in terms of skipping tourist traps or over-crowded touristy places. Once you pick a restaurant, also check out the internet sites that are designed to serve to the people living in that city to get a sense of whether you are going somewhere over-touristy (where only and only tourists go) or not. You will again be fine.
Also I like the rhythm at the hotels, people coming in going out, maybe a bar downstairs and more importantly the feeling of being surrounded by all those people who are for different reasons away from their home. Everyone is transient at a hotel, nobody owns the place, nobody is responsible (in a good or bad way) for the decoration choices at the hotel. Airbnb places give me the feeling of not feeling local but pretending to be local and being surrounded by someone elses life choices. Also, there are some hotels which still give you the local feeling you want more than anywhere else. Take Ace Hotel in Portland as an example – the whole town seems to go there for drinks, lunch/dinner or for the Stumptown coffee house attached to the hotel. Spending couple of hours down at the lobby of Ace Hotel will give you a great insight to all of the “interesting” people of Portland (or Portlandia). During my visits to Portland, I felt like nothing gave me the sense of Portland more than the Ace Hotel itself. Similarly, Nobis Hotel in Stockholm is also a great place where people come for after work drinks etc. and the place gives you the sense of Swedish high-life. I like good, nice hotels – I really do (and thats where I spend bigger part of my travel budget) and the most important thing for me at a hotel is for the room to have a desk where I can set up my computer and photo download system and thats the only level of domesticity feeling that I need. I should maybe write another post listing my all time top ten hotels but before doing that, I will direct you to www.tablethotels.com website where I find most of my hotels. It is such an amazing and inspirational site and has the absolute best customer service. They will this summer – finally – be launching there iPhone app as well.