Skip to main content

Airbnb: Where Hospitality Meets Social Media

Earlier this year, I was privileged enough to get an invite from a close friend to attend his wedding in Gijón, in the north of Spain. He’s a private kind of guy, so let’s just say he’s an Englishman and his bride to be is Spanish and leave it at that.

I’m not a rich man, so wisely I booked all of the different components of the trip in stages: first stage, beg my boss for a day off work during term time; second stage, book the flights; third stage, book the transfers from the airport in Santander to Gijón; finally, book the accommodation.

Other than the obvious disappointment that my tight budget meant I had to book a flight with Ryanair – an experience I won’t be repeating any time soon – most of the components were booked easily and at a reasonably cost, but I was struggling to find suitable accommodation.

Drinking in the atmosphere at a local sidrería.
Doing what I often do, I turned to the internet and to Google to see what I could find. Almost purely by accident I came across the website of Airbnb. 

According to their website, Airbnb was founded in 2008 and is based in San Fransisco, USA. Its concept is to match up people who need a room somewhere for a couple of nights, or however long, with people who have a room to spare. They currently claim to have over 200,000 listings worldwide, spread over 26,000 cities in 192 different countries.

So, frustrated with the lack of interesting, affordable, middle-of-the-road hotels on offer when using Trivago, I put what I wanted and when I wanted it into Airbnb and up came a few suitable options. All of them were in ideal locations close to both the main beach and the church of San Pedro, where my friend was to be married.

The process of booking on Airbnb is perhaps a little longer than using something like Trivago or Booking.com. Initially, you are advised to send a request to a number of different hosts, because, as most hosts are just normal people not hoteliers, availability can vary greatly.

After sending a request to few suitable hosts, we settled upon a flat owned by a lady called Leticia. Her flat being located the closest to the church and the beach – it also looked the nicest in the pictures.

Once booked, and prior to our arrival, we exchanged contact details (email and WhatsApp) and discussed arrival times and directions. As the timings were tight between our flight’s arrival time in Santander and the time it takes for the airport bus to get into town, the Alsa coach we book from Santander isn’t due into Gijón until 22.15. Luckily this isn’t a problem for our host. 

I am not sure if all hosts are as accommodating and organised as Leticia, but even when our bus arrived thirty minutes late, she delayed her going out for dinner just to make sure we were properly welcomed. 

Our room was easily double the size of your average hotel room, and was around half the price. It was furnished in a simple, minimalist fashion, but with lots of nice touches like a table in the bay window looking out over the street, a small sofa, and loads of helpful guides to the local area. In essence it was almost like a self-contained studio flat. 

It was perfect for our needs. I dumped the bags and within a few minutes we were already drinking in a nearby sidrería.

The whole process of finding, booking and checking-in was surprisingly simple. Our host was unobtrusive, and our stay in Gijón was comfortable, without breaking the bank.

When the opportunity arises in future, Airbnb may well be a first port of call rather than a last resort.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Atay Maghrebi: To Essaouira and the Atlantic

Leaving Marrakech, the landscape stays flat, except for a few distant outcrops of rock. The sensation of the inhospitality of the environment creeps up on you as the olive groves become fewer and further between and rough scrub runs away to the base of distant hills.
Eventually, the landscape starts to undulate as you pass through small towns like Sid L’Mokhtar, and, after two hours, Morocco simply runs out of land as the coach starts to plummet down to the Atlantic coastline and the peeling whitewash of Essaouira’s medina.

The morning started with the obligatory slices of sweet cake dipped into apricot jam, with a side of yoghurt and coffee. I had a chat with Merissa who was already awake and wearing sunglasses like she was nursing a hangover.
I packed up my bags and meandered my way out of the medina towards Bab Laksour to get a taxi.
Having learned the lesson last year that taxi metres are always mysteriously broken in Marrakech, I readied myself for a battle with the driver who…

Atay Maghrebi: Out of the Dark and into Jemaa El-Fnaa

The night time offers a wealth of opportunity and intrigue in almost any country, but when I'm somewhere where my understanding of the language extends to just a handful of phrases and disconnected words, I find it all the more enthralling. Marrakech genuinely quickens the pulse and widens the eyes by night, with the famous Jemaa El-Fnaa as its wildly arrhythmic beating heart.

After a day of perfectly idle wandering and preparing for my journey to Essaouira, I sat up on the roof terrace, ordered atay, read the ending of Alex Garland’s The Beach and waited for sunset.

During this time, a Dutch woman and a Belgian man sat near to me and started to talk about a range of subjects. Most of their discussion was centred around the regular banalities of two travellers who don’t know each other well and clearly don’t have a great deal in common.
Shortly before sunset, the Belgian man caught my attention as he started to regale his newfound friend with quotes from the Quran taken both ou…

From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah

I stumbled across Nuruddin Farah’s novels when searching for something written by a Somali author. Perhaps due to the conflict that has raged for years in Somalia, it is very difficult to find much from Somali writers published in English.
From a Crooked Rib was published in 1970 and tells the story of Ebla, a young, orphaned, illiterate nomadic girl, who runs away from her encampment. She takes the decision to leave upon learning of her Grandfather’s intention to marry her off to an older man within their Jes (a group of families living in an encampment together).
She firstly escapes to a town, Belet Amin, where she finds her cousin and his pregnant wife. She also finds a guide and confidante in a character known only as the widow. Things seem settled until, yet again, Ebla finds her freedom compromised by a male character – this time her cousin, whose wife and child Ebla has been nursing.
In her haste she leaves Belet Amin with the widow’s nephew, bound for Mogadishu – still called