Let me preface this blog post saying that I can not take any credit for the gem locations which we have stayed in on our trips. I am the type that doesn't want to know anything about anything before the trip begins, which is fortunate because my partner Michael loves the researching and planning side of it (most of the time). But after 3 overseas trips I think there is some method to his madness and some cheats along the way so I may as well share.
HOTELS vs. AIR BNB
I would say that it depends where you're going and for how long.
LESS THAN 2 NIGHTS, Hotel it up. Hotels for me have a couple of things going for them, simplicity and ease. You know 100% what you're going to get. You can get someone to bring you fries at 11PM, Leave your luggage at the desk on check out day, wear a robe. Those things are helpful on short trips but what they lack mean I wouldn't stay for over 2 nights.
MORE THAN 2 NIGHTS, Air Bnb all the way. When we travel, we like to spend more than 2 days so we 95% of the time choose the Air Bnb life. It has lots of advantages but two big ones stand out to me. You're able to vacation how someone else lives, they have their own artworks, books and local recommendations that aren't out of a sponsored tour guide. The second major advantage is the likely hood of having both a reasonable kitchen and laundry. Especially if you're travelling for a while, there is nothing better than being able to cook your own food.
FINDING THE PERFECT ACCOMODATION
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVE SHOPS/CAFES IN THE DESTINATION?
Open up google maps. If some of your favourite brands have locations in your travel destination then pin point those on the map and save them. Do the same with any cafes/stores that you have heard of that you want to visit while you're there. Once you have done this your map will have some areas that have more clusters of those places than others. That is where you should start looking for accommodation.
In all of the locations we have stayed in around the world there were a few things that we were always close to. First up, Aesop. I think this is the most trustworthy guide as to where to stay. If you're near an Aesop you're very likely in a good spot. A few others that I remember are Saturday's NYC, APC and Acne Studios.
WORK OUT YOUR NON NEGOTIABLES.
This list will help you sift through Air Bnb's real fast. Of course beds are a given but also think about things like if you need a bath, an oven, if you want the walk-up experience in NY, if you need a window in Paris. All those types of things.
For example a Window/Balcony situation in Paris was one of my non-negotiables. But other than that I need lots of natural light, Coffee machine or coffee shop within steps of the place.
LOOK FOR PLACES THAT ARE AUTHENTIC TO THE LOCATION YOU'RE TRAVELLING TO
This is one of my favourite things about renting an apartment or house. I believe that homes strongly represent how we live and what is important to different cultures and to me it's so nice to experience that when travelling. The little things like sleeping on Tatami Mats in Kyoto, Staying in a Monastery in Positano or our 600 year old updated apartment in Rome. Those places made our trip so special.
SOME OF MY TIPS
~ Read the reviews but use your common sense when doing so. I have read so many 'negative' reviews that are really complaining about things that I didn't find to be true, or things that don't even bother me. I have never had an experience where something went wrong at an air bnb and the host didn't fix it or help. Take note of the reviews that discuss the location and cleanliness.
~ If you're on a budget, Air Bnb is the way to go. You get a lot more for your money than you would staying at hotels. Normally for our trips we give budgets to different locations. For example you may find an amazing place in Paris which means you might need to have a lower budget in Rome.
~ If you are only staying for a short amount of time or just love the hotel life, I would recommend finding a boutique hotel in your destination. They are often full of personality and quirks that you are less likely to find in the big chains.
As much as you're probably thinking this blog post was sponsored by Air Bnb, it isn't, we just use it a lot. If you have any gem apartments or hotels you've stayed in, add them to the comments below.