I’ve always wondered what it would be like to stay in an AirBnB instead of a hotel, but we never had any reason to try it out because we’ve always found great affordable deals on hotels during our trips.
When we were planning our babymoon the prices of decent hotels were high because Spring has become the peak season for Tuscany. They say summer is too warm. The hotels within our budget were renaissance-style and NOT in a good way – gloomy rooms, filled with too much claw-footed dark furniture and brocade. I found that the listings on AirBnB were nicely designed and much more affordable for Florence – or Firenze as the locals call it – and Pisa, so we finally tried AirBnB out! (Separate post on our Pisa AirBnB experience soon!)
Host name: Luca (superhost)
Location: Via dei Serragli, Firenze, Toscana, Italy
Apartment for 2 with real bed
We stayed in a fabulously designed flat in Santo Spirito (Oltrarno District), which is not a touristy area. Perfect for travellers who want to live like locals and avoid crowds and tourist traps.
We felt confident staying with superhost, Luca, for our first AirBnB experience. He responded very fast to all of our messages. He was very warm and accomodating, eager to answer any questions we might have and assist in any way that could make our stay pleasant. The flat wasn’t perfect, but Luca and his friends were very quick to come and remedy any problems we had. For example, when we informed him that the coffee maker didn’t work, he immediately offered a replacement.
Mario the designer of the flat was so sweet and always on hand to help. For example, when the guests in the flat below us messed with the water heaters and we lost hot water in our flat, they immediately offered us the use of another flat’s bathroom until the plumber could come in the next day. They also offered us an extra day to stay for free to make up for the bother.
It was conveniently located:
- 2 minute walk to a bus stop and taxi rank
- 5 minutes from Carrefour Express Supermarket
- Affordable breakfasts nearby at this Tabacchi (how to pronounce) and Bar d’Angolo. Around € 5-8 for coffee and sandwiches/pastries for two people. The tabacchi is frequented more by locals while Bar d’Angolo has outdoor seating with a nice view of the impressive Porta Romana
Forgive the interior pictures, because though there is a lot of mood lighting, yellow light is not the most flattering.
The flat is on the 1st floor, which is up one short flight of stairs. The dining table and kitchen greets you as you enter.
There is a divider of kitschy vintage stuff with a canoe on top. Yup, I kid you not.
Then a big comfortable bed is after the divider. It faces the doors to the terrace and is such a nice view to wake up to.
I thought the use of hessian or burlap sack for curtains was a nice touch, but be warned it let’s sunlight come in, so if you want to sleep-in bring a sleep mask to cover your eyes.
This is where we would have our breakfast. It was convenient because we did not have to worry much about clean up because the birds helped clean up any crumbs left behind.
We didn’t get to use the lounge chairs because the folding seats were more comfortable
After the bed is this closet which we did not use, but was a nice option to have. There was a hanging rod behind it which was more convenient to hang our clothes on for our one week stay.
The bathroom is open plan so this place is great for couples and really really close friends. Luckily one person can always hang out in the terrace while the other uses the facilities.
I loved the big sink and all the industrial elements – all that exposed metal was a nice contrast to kitschy vintage furniture.
The cool open-plan double showers are a great design concept and something I wanted to try at least once in my life. It was a bit too cold in Spring, but I bet it’s great for hot Florentine summers.
There was a lot of comfy seating. This AirBnB is for people who like outdoor indoor living spaces – lots of greenery, and with windows on both sides of the room.
We didn’t really plan to do any cooking during our stay, so we only used the oven to heat bread for making sandwiches and washed whatever plates and utensils we needed. There were lots of crockery, pots and pans, a stove, a small refrigerator and stuff like sugar and spices. They looked like they haven’t been used in a long time, so we didn’t really use them.
Pros of staying in an AirBnB
- If you are staying for more than a few days, it’s definitely much cheaper.
- It feels more homey.
- Having a host is a more personal experience than hotel employees.
- For Florence, staying in an AirBnB allowed us to experience the city like locals. Luca gave us some really good off-the-tourist-path recommendations.
Cons of staying in an AirBnB
- You don’t get cleaning services everyday so like your own home, you need to clean up after yourself. If you love returning to a clean hotel room, getting new toilet paper and toiletries and fresh towels everyday then AirBnB might not be for you.
- Specifically for this flat, because of the indoor outdoor living design which I thought was a fabulous experience, dust and dirt could not be avoided. What with plants all over the room and the burlap sack curtains shedding. I think everything would have benefitted from a really good vacuum cleaning.
- Unlike hotels, it’s not as easy to ask for extra pillows. I wasn’t sure if it was even possible to do this so we made do with one pillow each and used the pillows on the couch to add to our bed pillows.
- The radiators weren’t working (Luca said they only work until March) so it was really cold in the evenings. Thankfully the duvet was very warm. I wish we brought fluffy bedroom slippers and warmer sleepwear. For hot Tuscan summers, I am sure this flat would be perfect – it will stay cool.
- I think for the €100/night the kitchen and food condiments should be kept cleaner and kitchen appliances updated, for guests to use them. But then again, we didn’t really plan on cooking. A nespresso-maker wouldn’t hurt either. =)
All in all I enjoyed staying in this Vintage Terrace flat and our first AirBnB experience was really quite lovely. We got to stay in a flat that we normally wouldn’t choose for our own lifestyle, but it was really cool to experience how it is to live in a differently designed home. It’s a flat for the bold, young and hip and it was nice to live an alternative life for a week.
Mario, the designer of the flat was really the nicest. On the day we left, he insisted on helping us with our suitcase and taking us to the bus stop to make sure we got on the right one to Siena. He waited with us under the heat and flagged almost every bus that came along to ask if it was going to Siena. Isn’t that the sweetest?
When traveling, a perfect room is nice, but I think warm, lovely hosts that genuinely want to make your stay comfortable will leave you with some really fond memories. We definitely wont be forgetting Luca and his group of friends. They were a big part of our Firenze experience.
Interesting properties in the same area:
#DiploTips: Staying in an AirBnB
- Bring a small bottle of rubbing alcohol to wipe down surfaces – like light switches, remote controls, handles/knobs and tables.
- Bring a travel-sized natural air purifying spray, like Puressentiel, to freshen the room and kill bacteria and fungus. It is made with 41 essential oils. (this is why I don’t use highly toxic disinfectants like Lysol)
- Bring extra towels and buy soap, toilet paper, tissue and other toiletries in a local supermarket.
- Ask which floor the listing is on and if there is an elevator, so you don’t get stuck going up 3 flights of stairs on your R&R vacation.
- Make sure there is a REAL bed and not just a sofa bed.
- If traveling with a group make sure there are separate bedrooms for each bed, if you are concerned about privacy.
- Check that there is an airconditioner/fan for summer or heater for fall/winter/spring.
- Ask how far it is to walk to the nearest taxi rank and bus stops.
- A superhost or 5 star average rating is always a great sign!
What do you think of the place we stayed in? Have you ever stayed in an AirBnb? What other tips can you add? I’m new to AirBnB and would so appreciate any tips and advice I can get!