This was our first trip relying on air bnb lodging and overall, a very positive experience. Kind of takes me back to staying at B and Bs in England in the early 1980s, when they were an affordable spare room in someone’s house rather than a pricey inn experience with sometimes uncomfortable shared breakfast dining with other guests.
At their best, the air bnbs are not only affordable and interesting accommodation but offer a slight glimpse into how life is lived in the place you’re visiting, which is what I like the most about them. You get to talk to people, find out what life is like, the politics, schools, neighborhood concerns. And you get great tips on where to hike and eat and shop, what to see.
The two places we stayed in Salt Lake City were each run by attractive single women who each seemed to have helpful boyfriends and a strong fixer upper mentality and design sense (which may be a functioning of what I look for when thumbing through the listings). Both were in leafy old neighborhoods revived by young people, in early 1900’s homes, with old wood, glass, brick, but also contemporary art and furnishings (except for the claw foot tubes, which are charming but tricky for older folks in particular to get in and out of.) Both were about the same price $84/$75 for a room for two. WHile the first one had lots of antiques and walls filled with paintings (the owner paints) the second one was very spare with mostly white walls, muslin curtains, earth-toned nubby hall liners, very Scandinavian (the owner is from Sweden). The first one gave us free reign of her kitchen and refrigerator for breakfast; the second one didn’t offer any food (but there was a good coffee house, the red moose, a block away.) With each, we had lots of freedom and no overbearing hosts, just the opposite. It was sort of amazing that both hosts left while we were there. pretty trusting considering that we were total strangers. (Although I guess we didn’t look too dodgy, and “discriminating” hosts can decline guests, which I gather can cause discrimination issues and charges of racism, sexism, other isms.)
A few downsides: for older or physically limited travelers, hauling suitcases up steep wooden staircases can be challenging; then there is the aforementioned claw foot bathtubs. And at our second SLC bnb, there was a rather dangerous (in the dark) sheer drop staircase at the end of the hall next to the bathroom. One false step during an evening bathroom run could lead to a tumble. (I would have been particularly worried if Traveling with a young child.)
Our third experience in Kelly was a whole other ballgame, since we rented an entire house for a family vacation rather than a room for two. It wasn’t particularly cheap and was not unlike other rentals we have done through VRBO and HomeAway and way back in the widespread pre-Internet 1990s, through newspaper classified listings. But we got to know the owners and their kids and they had tons of great suggestions and when we left, we felt like we were saying goodbye to friends (unlike the SLC digs where we never really said goodbye, we just let ourselves out in the morning and left the key behind).