What it’s really like to stay with Airbnb

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 16 Agustus 2014 | 20.01

Pure serenity ... it doesn't get much better than this. Photo: Grace Koelma Source: Supplied

I'M RECLINING on a deck chair watching an amazing sunset sink over a beautiful country valley. I sip from a glass of mulled wine and toast marshmallows over an open fire.

The only sounds are the crackle of the flames and the slight whisper of the wind in the gum trees. The velvety black sky above me is studded with a million diamonds.

I stumbled across this rustic, tranquil bush retreat on the popular accommodation website airbnb.com.au.

For those who don't know what Airbnb is, or still think it's some kind of hipster air conditioning start-up, it's time to get up to speed.

Morning mist engulfs Walker's Run ... magical. Source: Supplied

Airbnb.com.au is a website that allows people from all around the world to open their houses to the public as bed and breakfast style accommodation. The website acts as the middle man, taking care of secure money transfer, guest and host referrals and the online booking system.

Airbnb sets itself apart from other accommodation websites, promoting itself as a "community built on sharing." So, is using this community oriented accommodation really very different to staying in a hotel? What is it actually like to stay at an Airbnb place?

Funky Wild West in the Aussie Bush is a wilderness paradise. Photo: Airbnb Source: Supplied

I stayed in one of Airbnb's listings 'Walker's Run — Funky Wild West in the Aussie Bush' 90 minutes north of Sydney for two nights, to test out five basic elements: the booking process, the facilities, the host's service, uniqueness of the experience, and value for money.


Rating: 9/10

In a nutshell: User-intuitive, easy, safe

Airbnb makes booking simple. Properties are searchable by location and once you've found a property of interest, you can review the host's profile (to make sure they check out, and look friendly!) and read reviews on the property and hosts by previous guests.

Next, check your preferred travel dates on the calendar and contact the host to inquire about the listing. Hosts usually respond within a few hours, after checking out your profile (to make sure you look friendly and honest). Once they've approved your booking, Airbnb handles the money side of things. All costs are transparent, with no hidden fees.

Tip: Check the prices and cancellation policy on the listing, as each host has different rates for extra people, cleaning fees and security deposit.

Walker's Run Wild West accommodation is spectacularly themed, with incredible attention to detail. Photo: Airbnb Source: Supplied


Rating: 9/10 for Walker's Run

In a nutshell: Homely but stylish, modern rustic, every convenience imaginable

Walker's Run is a completely self-serviced house, sleeping six people comfortably in three luxurious queen beds. The property is usually lived in by the hosts when not booked, so it has all the features of a well-appointed home.

The kitchen is spacious and impeccably equipped with every appliance and utensil imaginable. The property offers guests the use of an outdoor Barbeque and supplies firewood for each of the four fire places.

The house includes unlimited wi-fi, air-conditioning, Foxtel, a huge TV, DVD player, sound system, iPod dock and a giant library of books and DVDs.

Tip: Many Airbnb properties, like this one, also allow pets, so bring along your furry friends. Check the listing and email the host to confirm first.

Walker's Run has every pot and pan you could wish for, and more. Photo: Airbnb Source: Supplied


Rating: 10/10

In a nutshell: Professional, friendly, accommodating

This is definitely one of the standout features of Airbnb, and emphasises their community-oriented approach. The Walker's Run hosts were exceptional in their service, taking time to introduce us to the more unique features of the property and ensuring we were well looked after during our stay.

Walker's Run hosts Rob and Ruth love sharing their country cowboy life with their guests. Photo: Airbnb Source: Supplied

As we navigated our way along country roads in the dark, we received a call from Ruth, our host, checking that we knew the route. Upon arrival, Ruth had the two indoor fires blazing, and had mulled wine ready for us. She took us on a house tour, pointing out all the features, including a newly purchased mix master.

"No one's used it yet," she said wistfully. "But when the first guest asked if we had a mix master, I drove straight out to buy one." Just one example of how obliging these hosts are.

Tip: Ask your hosts for their local perspective of the area. They'll have lots of tips for the best local places to visit, wine and dine.

Delicious mulled wine, toasty warm off the fire. Photo: Grace Koelma Source: Supplied

Stunning views from the balcony. Photo: Airbnb Source: Supplied


Rating: 10/10

In a nutshell: A rich, Mid-West American, country and rock music history

Walker's Run is a unique property, that originally started as a humble bush 'humpy' dwelling, and grew to become a magnificent bush retreat. I asked the hosts, Rob and Ruth to join me by the fire one night and share their stories.

In another life, Rob worked at EMI and Capitol records and travelled around the world, brushing shoulders with celebrities.

As we chat, he mentions that he managed Tina Turner, and was there when she sang at Live Aid in Philadelphia with Mick Jagger. When he lived in California, Rob had coffee with Danny DeVito regularly and was acquainted with Mel Gibson, Bob Dylan, Chevy Chase and Janet Jackson, to name a few.

Rob's incredible collection of hats from music gigs around the world line the rafters. Photo: Airbnb Source: Supplied

While working at Capitol records in Australia, he signed Keith Urban, Crowded House and Savage Garden.

Walker's Run is a loving 'museum' to house the band memorabilia and Wild West artefacts he collected during Rob's years in the States and travelling the world.

Tip: Airbnb offers an incredibly unique range of properties, from tree houses in jungles to lighthouses, from medieval castles to gypsy wagons.

The 'sky room' is a cosy refurbished caravan. Photo: Airbnb Source: Supplied


Rating: 10/10

In a nutshell: Two thumbs up

I've found airbnb.com.au to be the cheapest 'luxury' form of accommodation on the market. Prices vary, however in most regions you can get a fully self-contained house (or part of a house) for between $60 and $120 a night, which is much less than what you'd pay in a hotel. If you only need a room in a house, prices are even cheaper, ranging from as little as $20 a night.

The Wild West accommodation I stayed in offered a full house, sleeping six people. At $300 a night, this was great value if you visit with five friends, coming in at $50 per person. It's not the most affordable option for singles or couples though.

Ruth tells me that the house has played host to Hen's nights, bloke's weekends and numerous parties, and she hopes it will see many more events.

"We just love meeting people," she said. "Everyone is so lovely."

The lounge room looks out onto the beautiful hills. Photo: Airbnb Source: Supplied

Have you stayed in Airbnb accommodation? Share your experience by commenting below or joining the conversation on Twitter @newscomauHQ | @gracekoelma

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