I Don’t Like Airbnb – Sorry

16 Dec 2016
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This may be my most controversial post up to date as I will declare something that will be despised by many independent travelers and which will turn me into a less cool person immediately. I don’t 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 else’s home!

I don't like Airbnb and some hotels like Isfjord Radio offers the most local experience you can have
I don’t like Airbnb but love Isfjord Radio Hotel in Svalbard

Hotels are for tourists and Airbnbs are for travelers who are fashionably local – I don’t agree with this proposition.

Airbnb did great in terms of marketing itself as a cooler traveling choice but is it really so? Even though it is very common to hear the following travel remarks – “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, maybe you can try to 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. I don’t agree with the common proposition suggesting that “Airbnb” signifies localness and the hotels do not. I don’t think this is necessarily relevant to the place where you stay. 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.

I dont'like Airbnb - Nobis Hotel in Stockholm
Nobis Hotel in Stockholm

I don’t like Airbnb as hotels add a different dimension to my travels

I also 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. I certainly need that level of detachment when I travel. Airbnb places give me the feeling of not feeling local but pretending to be local and being surrounded by someone else’s life choices. Detachment from the daily surroundings clears up my mind and almost open a blank page where I can better record all the things that I will encounter during my day while traveling.

I don't like Airbnb - Secret Gardien in Yangshuo
I don’t like Airbnb but love Secret Garden Hotel in Yangusho, China

Traveling is better with surprises but should those really be related to the place where you will sleep?

I also don’t like Airbnb due to the level of uncertainty it inevitably involves. I need some piece of mind to better focus on the more enriching part of my travels. While unknowns and surprising occurrences are very valuable for a great travel experience, I don’t necessarily need the accommodation part of my trip to fuel those aspects. With Airbnb, you are always open to surprises – will the host be reasonable? Will the place be clean enough? How about the neighbours? With the hotels, you will have a greater certainty in respect to these aspects even though full control is never possible. It definitely does not hurt to a get a good night sleep after a full day of touring around or settle quickly into your room when you first arrive in your destination. I am also among those group of people who wake up extremely early. I will usually be up somewhere around 4-5 am and will spend a good amount of time before going out. So my place of accommodation means more to me than just a place to spend very few hours to get some sleep and I actually use the place.

I don't like Airbnb - Sofitel Legend, Hanoi
I don’t like Airbnb but love Sofitel Legend Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam

Some hotels offer the best local experience that you can have

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 am so fond of hotels that I have an entire section dedicated to hotels and none of these are sponsored. These are my reasons for why I don’t like Airbnb – what are your views on the topic?