AirBnB: I don’t think I would do it again unless it was a house or condo specifically purchased and made up for guests where no one lives regularly. There is something really weird about staying in the home of strangers who just happen to be away. I don’t even sleep in my friends’ beds. I don’t even stay with my family when I visit them. Not that I wouldn’t sleep in my friends’ beds or my family’s beds. But like Goldilocks, the bed of a stranger would likely not be the one that feels “just right.”
There are upsides to AirBnB. You can get something pretty spectacular for less money than a hotel. We stayed in this amazing and huge house in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle (I found it on Zillow for a “Make Me Move” price of $1.6 million). It had several bedrooms, a sweeping staircase, a piano (out of tune), a huge kitchen/family room combo, interestingly appointed living and dining rooms. And a big, lovely bed and bedroom (bathroom outlets not working) with a deck — that was the best part. There were strict instructions not to go into the wife’s closet (no problem there).
I went to do laundry and noticed the wife had left some of her and their child’s clothes in the washing machine, including a white thong. After I washed my things I put their garments back in the washing machine. Which is weird, I know, but AirBnB is weird. The odder thing happened when I was on the floor getting something out of my suitcase. I noticed an empty wine glass under the bed. So bizarre! And then I spent a good 10 minutes trying to decide what to do about it. Just put it in the dishwasher? Leave it there? Was it a guest-trap — like, if I hadn’t been looking under their bed I would not have seen it? In another flourish of overthinking I decided to leave it there. It might still be there haunting new guests for all I know.
There were French doors in one of the other bedrooms that I didn’t notice were thrown wide open (maybe to air out the place for our stay?) until the end of our visit. I closed that but not without overthinking it. I tried to stay out of sight of the neighbors for the most part — I got a few looks while watering the couple’s legion of plants. I was surprised that even in a huge house you could hear the voice of the little kid next door echoing through the house in the morning in a disembodied howl. Come to find out…the neighbors didn’t have a child at all.
In the end I left the couple a stellar review and the husband did the same for us. My general awkwardness probably says way more about me than AirBnB, but I think it helps to know if you’re even slightly neurotic AirBnB might not be for you.
Jenn Sutkowski thinks even weirder than AirBnB is being expected to make conversation with strangers before coffee — RegularBnB. Spooky.
This Full Frontal column appears originally in the Newport Mercury.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
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