We all know that London is an expensive city. We also know that the dollar isn’t as strong as it used to be, while the sterling pound is at its strongest ever. As I planned out my trip to London, I had to find a way to make my dollars stretch as much as possible while staying within my tight budget. At first I considered staying in a hostel. Several online searches led me to a wonderful YHA hostel that offered a bed in a 6-bed dorm room for £26. I’d get a bed and access to a shower for £26 a night – everything else (like wireless internet, towels, food, etc.) would be extra but that’s still a great deal, right? Kind of. Despite being unsure of my decision, I convinced myself that this was the right economical decision and booked my stay for six days.
In August, just two months before my London trip, I found out about AirBnB on Twitter. Someone I follow found a great deal on a room in Italy and was absolutely enjoying herself. I signed up immediately and within three days, found the perfect place for me!
For only £32 a night, I was told that I’d be getting my own room, free WiFi, free laundry, hot showers and access to the kitchen & living room (TV). My host, Guy Levy, was excellent with communicating. I felt like cancelling my hostel booking and going the AirBnB route would be the best choice for me. My biggest fears were 1) living in a house alone with a strange man and 2) that I’d have to pay airbnb.com the full price + site fees upfront before I even got to the place (hotels, hostels – no one does this!). I went with my gut feeling and I am so glad that I did.
Not only did I get everything that was promised online but I was treated to much more. On my first night, my host and his girlfriend took me out for a ‘welcome’ curry dinner. There were loads of great conversations had in the mornings and late evenings. We even stayed in and watched tv one night when the weather was horrendous. My first AirBnB experience was a FANTASTIC one. At the end of my time there, I’d made friends with my host & his girlfriend. I still keep in contact with them. Neither of them wanted me to leave and if it were not for my Europe tour the next morning, I would not have!
Here is the actual review that I posted on the AirBnb website:
The Host: Guy is really great. From the minute I met him, he gave me a big hug & bolted up the stairs with my heavy bag. He’s very helpful, always answering questions, doing things if i couldn’t do them myself, etc. As a new member of airbnb, I was so nervous with the idea of being a solo female traveler living with a strange man in a foreign country but not once did I feel unsafe or uncomfortable in any way. He’s very friendly & accommodating. His face lights up at the thought of curry & he was happy to share that passion of his with me. The Location: safe, quiet neighbourhood || 6 mins. walk from the Turnpike Lane Station on the Piccadilly line. || Only 20-30 mins away from touristy areas. || Grocery stores, coffee shops, fast food, ATM, are all around. The Room: clean & comfortable. I think Guy needs to update the pics of the bedroom on this site because it looks much better & seems more spacious in person compared to pictures on this site. There’s also a vase of fresh flowers which was a nice touch. I notice things like that. The overall experience: I felt like I was staying with a friend while visiting London. It was hard to leave. Ha.
I got ALL of this for only £6 more a night than the cost of a thin bunk bed in a hostel dorm. CRAZY! So if you’re traveling and in need of affordable accommodation with less of a touristy feel, I strongly recommend finding a place to stay on AirBnB. Just be wise during your research and pay close attention to the reviews of the host before you book.
[And in case you’re wondering, I am in no way affiliated with airbnb, nor do I benefit in any way from posting this review.]