My studio apartment in Cape Town has been listed on Airbnb for Just over a month and as so many of my friends and family have asked me to tell them more about my experience as a host, I thought to list my reasons why I think it is one of the best things I’ve ever done, why the pro’s far outweigh any Possible con’s, and why Airbnb, according to me, is just great.
I really enjoy playing hostess. Few things make me happier than cooking up a storm and inviting old (and new) friends to come and feast with me. I also really love throwing parties and remember being the slumber party queen from as early as seven. Somehow it is a lot easier for me to host an event than to attend one as a guest – I think I actually have a bigger collection of aprons than dresses! I’m indeed that friend with the pimping air mattress and never-ending supply of clean linen, the friend who gets called in the early hours of the morning when it’s a much better idea to crash on the couch than to drive home …
I’m not sure what the psychology behind being a the ever-eager hostess is, but I’d like to think it has something to do with sharing what I love with others, as it’s always so much more enjoyable for me that way.
AirBnb allows me to be the ultimate hostess and in many ways allow me to also get even greater joy out of my home and my neighbourhood: it benefits me and my guests. I get to connect with people from across the globe while making a little extra to help with my monthly expenses (and throw a little extra into my bond). I’d like to believe my guests, in turn, get to stay in a space that is like a ‘home away from home’ – at a fraction of the cost of other accommodation offerings with the same amenities and comforts.
Off course I’m bias, but I sincerely think my guests get to have a more authentic experience of Cape Town than in standard tourism establishments, as this is actually my home and not a space I’ve bought and furnished with the sole purpose of listing it to be rented for a profit. What is more is that my friend Dencel, who hosts on my behalf when I’m out of the country, adds a real personalised service. He is in the complex almost all the time, so I know guests will be welcomed, truly hosted and have everything they need to settle in comfortably – as I’m pretty settled and comfortable in my home myself.
I also love how my studio can become a doorway for newcomers of this fantastic city. I’ve had several peeps from Gauteng coming to stay for a weekend, who have never been to Cape Town before. Many of them were first time AirBnb users and made the trip for the sole reason of affordability. It felt wonderful to host not just international visitors, but my own countrymen. I hope to inspire more people to come and learn from this legendary town below our infamous mountain.
In the past I’d settle for a lock-up and go and get back after months of shooting abroad having to throw out dead pot plants and stale coffee, but now I get to come home to a space that hasn’t gathered dust and is clean. On my last return I felt as if there was a living energy in my home, as if the space enjoyed air and love. Literally.
I’ve not had any damage to my space in any way shape or form. I’m sure someone is bound to break something like a wineglass at some stage (I also break things such as wineglasses accidentally for instance), but I’ll be seriously surprised when I come home to a space that has simply been plundered. You see, I chat to people beforehand, check their references (if they have any) and stay in touch afterwards by at the very least writing them a review on their AirBnb profile. If, in some extreme and unlikely circumstance, there is serious damage to my space, I find great comfort in the AirBnb host protection insurance.
AirBnb also opens up my own travel opportunities. My very first guest invited me to his home in Turkey and I’m going to go and stay with him when I head over to sample some more Rasul rooms in September. If I decide to not use the extra earnings towards monthly expenses, I can treat myself to a weekend away when I otherwise wouldn’t have afforded to do so.
To put this in perspective, AirBnb isn’t some little startup anymore. It’s one of the largest players in the hotel industry worldwide. In 2015, more than 2 million listings were offered on the platform, nearly four times as many rooms as the Marriott hotel chain.
AirBnb has received a lot of criticism, but I think the initial concept is fantastic and openhearted and inspiring. It gives me the same joy as preparing a meal for others to enjoy or pumping up my air bed for another.
I also urge you to support AirBnb hosts who open their homes to others and to not opt for spaces that are clearly only run as businesses on this platform. It is in the real homes, I assure you, where a stay with heart is.
I’d love to hear from other hosts on why they open their door to ‘strangers’ and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have if you share them in the comments below.
Happy travelling, to saying I #BelongAnywhere and to be a #HostWithPride.