When planning our trip to Italy I knew that there was a budget to keep in mind. I felt the hotels I found in that proposed budget left a lot to be desired so I expanded the search to include Airbnb. My travel buddy had not used these services for their previous trips so this was something new for the both of us.
When I first decided to explore the shared home realm I had no idea about any of it besides staying in someone else’s home. What I found when looking at staying in a whole home space was that the place was not always in use by the owner, rather it was being treated as an investment property (much like a rental). This seemed attractive to me for some reason. I’ve stayed in many hotels over the years and am at a point where I realize that someone else has just stayed in this room and slept in this bed and used this shower but I know that it has been cleaned by housekeeping. There was something about staying in a stranger’s home, a place where they reside, that wasn’t sitting well with me for some reason until I found this tidbit out. That was one hurdle I overcame. Next was how clean was the place and how was it kept. Again the answer presented itself. Most times there is a cleaning service used to take care of clean up after each guest’s stay. Next was how true was the representation in pictures and description to real life. I found that reviews are where it’s at. Every single place I considered I read all or nearly all of the reviews. If they had been operating for some time (like a couple/few years) I would limit myself to reading reviews for the last year thinking if there were any issues they would have been resolved in that period of time.
Now in order to not have my first experience using Airbnb to be overseas I decided that we would stay at one in a place we are familiar with stateside. That place is in the Tampa/Clearwater area of Florida. Part of Hubs’s family lives there so we are down at least once a year if not more. This means we know the area pretty well. Once we decided that we wanted to stay closer to the beach (on the beach was quite a bit more) I went about the process of searching for a whole home for us to rent there. Let me tell you there are a lot of options! The Airbnb site has a lot of search parameters you can use to drill down to exactly what you are looking for. This came in handy sine we knew we had a few non-negotiable items for our lodging requirements. Things like not having to stay a week (many are week minimums due to condo association requirements), a place to park, and wi-fi.
We almost settled on a nice little cottage north of the beach with a pool. It was a quaint little place but the drawback was that there were a lot of rules and responsibilities that we just didn’t want to deal with while we’re on vacation. We were willing to make an exception until we found a trio of condos closer to the beach without a lot of rules. In fact, their thing is that there is a cleaning fee so don’t stress about washing the dishes or stripping the beds. Obviously don’t leave a pigsty but just be ok with leaving things. We couldn’t but knew it was an option. We did strip down our bed, gather the towels in a basket, take out the garbage, and load the dishwasher. Wasn’t crazy for us and that’s almost how we leave hotels anyhow. A bit tidy.
One of the things that I really appreciated about the listing was that what you see is what you get. One of the first things Hubs said when we walked in was “this looks exactly like the pictures” and it did! Down to the pillows on the beds and sofa. One of the most gratifying parts of our stay was when Hubs told me that he really liked the place and that I did a good job finding it for us. You see, he was a negative nelly up until that first night about the idea of it. So this was a big deal!
As I’ve said, I love interior design. A favorite style of mine is Mid-Century Modern. I was instantly attracted to a listing with an orange sofa (my favorite color!) with Mid-Century Modern styling. Imagine my surprise when it had everything we were looking for! The attention to detail was perfect as was the welcome set-up. Have you ever stayed in a hotel and walked into your room to find a treat or nicety waiting for you? This is how it went down for us: we arrived at the condo, retrieved our key, and walked in to see a bowl of goodies (snacks, coffee pods, etc) with 2 wine glasses waiting on the kitchen counter for us. We obviously ooh-ed and ah-ed over it and then peeked in the fridge. In the fridge were more goodies for us! Water, soda, beer, and a bottle of wine. Say what?!
I’m sure you’re wondering about the place. Want to know exactly which one it is so you can check it out. While I hesitate to share our little piece of paradise in this big, crazy world I will share our host with you. It was very obvious to me that she has pride in these condos and when I brought something to her attention she was very kind and well receiving of the information. And in your knowing who she is you can then check out her spaces available to rent. We all have our own preferences and I can tell you that this one is mine but you might like another.
I hope that one day you can check it out or something similar. I know it has opened my mind up to the possibilities of experiencing a place like I live there, per the Airbnb motto. I can also say that this is my opinion and that I was not paid to say these things. This is a true testament and we will be staying there again very soon!