I’m a huge fan of citizen taxi services such as Uber and Lyft, and last December I gave Airbnb a try for business travel.
Yuck. Just yuck. You can read the gory details here. I still shudder when I think about that bathtub.
But when my family decided to meet in Asheville, North Carolina, for a little vacation over the Fourth of July, I figured I’d give Airbnb a try rather than stuffing six family members into hotel rooms.
For those of you who don’t want a moment-by-moment recount of our beautiful vacation, here’s the short version: Our Airbnb experience was perfect. The trip restored my faith in renting strangers’ homes, with the caveat that I think Airbnb is much more suited for personal travel than saving money on a business trip.
Alpacas, Llamas and Goats. Indeed.
We had all kinds of choices for a 3+ bedroom cabin or house that would accommodate hubby and me, my sister and the young nephews and our dad. There were modern, hip abodes near downtown Asheville as well as multiple mountain cabins. Hubby and Papa would love to be deep in the mountains, but the kids needed some kind of entertainment options, so they were really my priority in choosing a location. Me, I’m a city girl, and I would have loved to be downtown near a coffee shop that I could walk to. But Auntie Beth needed to do something special.
The research and decision fell primarily on my shoulders. My father said, “Choose what you want, Beth. No matter what you choose, one of us will be disappointed.” Sigh. My final choice was a winner, though: everyone loved Cabin Cove Farm, a log cabin about 20 minutes away from downtown that was smack dab in the middle of a farm with alpacas, llamas and goats. The nerd for the win!
Everything was wonderful. The cabin had two bedrooms and a loft with two single beds. The common areas had plenty of room for family games, as well as some cool corners for the kids to glue themselves to their tablets for a break. Since we were guests for a week, we received a gift pack with eggs from the farm plus local jam. Our hosts had thoughtfully stocked the house with common condiments, laundry detergent and other necessities that we would have had to buy.
We even had a private hot tub, which had just one rule: if you’re soaking naked at night, please turn off the porch light.
The best features were the front and back porches, which had swings, rocking chairs and everything we needed to feel mountain cozy.
We were also issued a generous portion of timothy hay for the friendly farm animals. This led to a mobbing and my first alpaca selfie. The kids made friends with their favorite animals, and dusk included fun feedings plus shows from the fireflies.
Our family trip to the mountains was more than just a getaway. Our main purpose was to scatter Mom’s ashes in the Great Smoky Mountains, the place she loved the most in the world. Though we had grand ideas of standing on a mountaintop and letting the wind carry the ashes through the hills, we ended up taking a simpler route and (with the hosts permission), sprinkled Mom into the waters of the farm’s stream and throughout the surrounding foliage. We had a funny moment when Papa’s hand slipped and a couple of inches of Mom plopped into a pile, but the gentle North Carolina rains (or the afternoon downpours) helped usher her down the stream.
The afternoon after we set Mom free, a rainbow stretched across the sky, with the center point right over Mom’s final home. Let’s say it together… awww.
Why Was One Airbnb Experience a Nightmare and the Other a Dream?
We should note the main differences between my two Airbnb experiences, though.
- My first trip was for business, and the apartment just wasn’t as convenient as a hotel. Not only was the farm a better property, but I was also in vacation mode and not trying to please clients the next day.
- The farm hosts made a concerted effort to make sure we were comfortable and the place was clean. The first property didn’t give me any washcloths (which you have no idea how much you need until you don’t have them) and was insanely filthy. (shudder)
- The farm property was designed to be a rental. The flat in DC was an unapproved rental, and I was instructed to use a side entrance and to say I was a friend of the occupant if someone asked.
- The farm folks were friendly and hospitable. My hosts at the flat met me on a street corner and snuck me through the back.
The Final Word
As I mentioned before, our experience couldn’t have been better. The rental cost $1650 for the week, and our three families divided the price, meaning each one of us paid about $80 a night for a place that was 10x better than hotel rooms and let us save lots of money on food as well. I’d take our family trip through Airbnb again in a minute.
Good vacation story, Beth! Nice with the rainbow – thanks for sharing your memories with us.