You know that feeling when your friend tells you about a website that is super awesome and it totally changes your life like finding a $100 bill on the ground--well it happened to me a few weeks ago when my friend Sam from London told me about AirBnB, a site where you can book affordable vacation rentals around the world at Bed & Breakfasts, bedrooms in people's apartments or entire houses!
I was struggling to find cheap hotels in London and I wasn't looking to do the hostel experience (I am not a hotel snob, but I've done my share of bunk beads and communal bathrooms) so I was open to any other options. After browsing the AirBnB site, which by the way I am in love with the clean, simple interface, I realized how beautiful some of the rentals are (a lot of the rentals look like architectural design treasures) and how much cheaper it is than staying at a hotel. Plus, I prefer staying in a real apartment or house because it gives you a more authentic experience.
I booked my recent 9-night London trip through AirBnB and stayed at a really cute Lodge for the decent price of $58/night. A full breakfast was included. I absolutely loved staying at the B&B and our hosts were the kindest people ever. Here are some photos, click to enlarge:
Like Yelp, AirBnB relies on user reviews to rate the rentals and provide others with helpful information when making a decision. Hosts can also review the guests that stay with them; in turn, AirBnB self polices itself through crowdsourcing and everyone wins as the end product is a satisfactory experience. PURE GENIUS (what more can you expect from a online business based in San Francisco). Also, to encourage the expansion of its listings, users who book with AirBnB can save money off their booking by listing their own place.
This is the first time I have used a site like this, and I know HomeAway does something similar and may have even been a first-mover; however, I predict AirBnB will gain momentum and a huge fan base (probably from young professionals) due to its clean user interface, variety of artsy fartsy rentals and easy-to-book system. If you're going on vacation or thinking about it, I highly recommend checking out the site.