orignally posted in 2016
When I decided to head to New York City for a few days, I went back and forth between staying at a hotel and renting from an Airbnb. I like the safety of a hotel, if anything goes wrong there will be an alarm and probably someone to help you. At an Airbnb, you’re on your own. Yet I loved the idea of being a real New Yorker in a real apartment. I went back and forth on where to stay for weeks!
A few years ago we stayed at a nice but tiny hotel on the Lower East side which I loved, but the keyword is TINY. Hotels in New York are generally small so I wondered if an apartment would give us more room.
I set out to find a good sized apartment and launched a search on Airbnb and VRBO. I wanted the place to be centrally located and safe.
Something to consider as I learned, there may not be an elevator when you’re renting an apartment and if you have a very heavy suitcase and/or a very bad back, you’re lugging your stuff up multiple flights of narrow stairs. When you are at a hotel, there’s usually an elevator and someone to assist you.
I liked the idea of having access to a kitchen so I could have some granola and fruit plus my must-have coffee! I’ve noticed that not every hotel has a coffee maker and unless you get a suite, you won’t have kitchen facilities.
I found a really neat little place in Greenwich Village that looked fantastic from the photos and was in my price range. I decided to forget about staying in a hotel and go with the Airbnb.
It would be a great experience to live the real NYC life and see how a true New Yorker lives!
I made sure the place was in a clean and safe area (research!) and booked it. The host was quick to answer my questions and I was super excited. Greenwich Village is generally pretty safe and I knew from being there before that I loved the leafy streets and brick buildings.
We got into the city very late at night- after midnight- so I couldn’t get a good look at the place, all I really cared about was sleep! The apartment was very small yet bigger than the hotel we stayed in last year which was a positive. As mentioned in the Airbnb write up, we were very close to the subway, restaurants, Whole Foods.
I have to admit it was weird to live in a stranger’s place with their things in the open. It takes a ton of trust for someone to rent out their home with all of their possessions only a drawer or cupboard away!
Luckily the place I rented was neat and clean, and exactly like the pictures. I can only imagine what horror it would be to book a place that was unlike the description or photos!
I didn’t consider the likelihood of rats, mice, or roaches in an apartment so think about that possibility before you book an Airbnb. Luckily this wasn’t an issue but could’ve been in a big city.
The only problem I ran into was a tricky key for the front door of the building, I often had to wait for someone to either come or go so I could get in which was a hassle. I never got the key to work – an issue I wouldn’t have run into at a hotel.
I’ve read some scary stories about staying in a sketchy part of town, bedbugs, no air conditioning, weird neighbors, cat hair, dirty sheets and people in and out of the apartment or home- none of this would occur at a hotel (maybe just the bedbugs).
I’m grateful for my experience as a true New Yorker in Greenwich Village, a beautiful part of my favorite city.
My advice to someone trying to decide on an Airbnb vs. a hotel would be the following:
- Read all of the ratings on Vacation Rentals by Owner or Airbnb and consider any positives and negatives mentioned. Is there air conditioning? Multiple stairs? An elevator that doesn’t work? How was check-in? Is the host available to help if needed?
- Research the part of town the place is located- is it safe? Out of the way? Away from the main street? Noisy? I personally avoid the whole Times Square area because while it’s centrally located, it is very packed with tourists and extremely noisy.
- Do a search to find subways, shops, laundry facilities, and restaurants (you want to be centrally located).
- Ask if the kitchen offers a microwave, coffee maker, is there a washer/dryer or a nearby laundry etc? Is the host easy to get in touch with if needed? Does the host provide towels and bedding? I read about one place where the host noted they gave ONE roll of toilet paper and ONE towel for the week.
I think the key is good research and reading all you can from reviews and personal experiences, Trip Advisor is a favorite of mine.