Our Airbnb Homes: Part 1

Our first Airbnb was this sweet cottage in Portland. It was very hot in August, but this home was air-conditioned. It’s also in a great eastside Portland location.

Brett and I have enjoyed looking back at all the Airbnb homes we stayed in on the first part of the Big Adventure, and I thought I’d share the actual listings.

I was put in charge of choosing the rentals for each of our destinations before we set off on our adventure. I weighed price, amenities, location and read review after review to get a feel for different rentals and which would be a good fit for us. Some of the places we rented we liked more than others, but all were clean, had a comfortable bed, plenty of hot water and everything we needed to fix our own meals. Every single one of our hosts had at least bottled water stocked in the refrigerator when we arrived, but many had wine and snacks waiting for us, always appreciated after a long travel day.

This studio in the Recoleta neighborhood was our home for ten days in Buenos Aires. There was a jetted tub in the bathroom, wonderful for a relaxing soak after long days of walking. This apartment made our top three (#3).
The living room of our apartment in Montevideo. The apartment was very cute and clean, and in a great location to visit the old city and get down to La Rambla, but we were warned against going out at night in the neighborhood.

I tried to keep our lodging costs under $70 per night. Some places we ended up reserving were over that, but others were (way) under, and it all balanced out. I knew that some places (like Paris or Florence, for example) were going cost more than others, so we saved in other locations in order to balance out those higher costs. However, although the cost per night posted for some listings is much higher than our budget limit, we generally paid less, and we were able to stay within our budget or close to it because staying a week or longer prompted a generous discount. All of our Airbnb rentals were paid for ahead of time from our travel savings.

The kitchen of our apartment in Montmartre, Paris, was small, but the best equipped of any place we stayed. Plus, there was a wonderful view from the kitchen window. The location of this apartment was superb – right in the heart of Montmartre, and at an affordable price.
Our apartment in Balleroy, Normandy was very cozy, and in a great location for driving around the area to visit the Normandy beaches and other sites. The hosts had a bottle of their homemade cider waiting for us in the fridge along with juice and water.

As far as amenities, WiFi, a fully-equipped kitchen, private bath with a shower, and a washing machine were necessities. We also wanted a sofa so we had a place to relax at the end of the day. Many of the places we rented came with a dishwasher, which was nice but not a deal killer. Also, some buildings had elevators, but in several places we had to climb several flights of stairs – it was good exercise! The one place we worried about more than any of the others before arriving was the apartment in Strasbourg. I have no idea why I chose it other than the location in town was great, but it was tiny, had a sofa bed and didn’t have a washing machine  . . . and we were booked for three weeks! It turned out to be one of our favorite places with one of the most comfortable beds of all. We adjusted easily to the small space, and a laundromat was just a couple of blocks away, so taking care of our laundry was never a problem. Best of all, we had a wonderful host and had the great privilege of dining with her family toward the end of our stay.

Our studio in Strasbourg was less than 300 square feet, but was still very comfortable and in a great location for exploring the city. This place also made our top three (#2).
Our bed & breakfast stay in this nearly 300-year old Swiss farmhouse in Sempach Station, outside of Lucerne, was our favorite Airbnb experience. The hosts’ hospitality was warm and generous, and we loved spending time with their family and in the area.

Our favorite stay though was not in our own apartment, but as guests in a Swiss farmhouse B&B outside of Lucerne. Our room was big and clean and we had a large, private bathroom, but it was the family that made our stay so memorable. They spoiled us rotten, taking us and picking us up each day at the train station, showing us around the area, and included us one evening in their family dinner, serving a traditional Swiss raclette. Our farm breakfasts each morning were nothing short of magnificent. The entire three-night stay in the farmhouse from start to finish was remarkable.

This large apartment in Bordeaux featured open beams and stone walls, and included a special refrigerator for wine! After our small apartment in Strasbourg we felt like we were swimming in space, but it was a great place to come home to at the end of the day.

I’ve written that our least favorite stays were in Montevideo and Rome. With Montevideo it was the location – during the day it was fine, but we were warned about going out at night so were always stuck in the apartment. In Rome, the apartment turned out to be much larger than we imagined, and while all the marble looked pretty in the pictures, it actually felt cold and unwelcoming, to us anyway.

Our Florence apartment, located in the Oltrarno neighborhood was our favorite apartment. It had been remodeled to show off many of the original architectural features of the space, and had every convenience along with a drop-dead view from the kitchen window.

All the places we stayed received a five-star review and rating from us. The check-in and check-out at every place was easy, all the hosts were very helpful, and the locations were great for getting out to see the area. There was also always a grocery store nearby, important for us since we cooked most of our meals “at home.”

Our apartment in Rome was very large, and the amount of marble left us cold (the actual living room is also a bit more cluttered than it appears in this photo). Still, the apartment’s location and conveniences made it a good choice overall.

We won’t be staying in an Airbnb again until we arrive in Perth, Western Australia, toward the end of January – we’ll be using hotels in both India and Hong Kong. After our train journey across Australia we’ll stay in another Airbnb rental in Sydney. Both the Perth and Sydney rentals are private residences, but when we move on to New Zealand we’re booked into five different private rooms because our stays are so short in each town. Some will include breakfast, some won’t. In Japan we will be renting an apartment directly from the owner, and then will be back in an Airbnb rental for our summer stay in Portland, this time on the west side of town, a new experience for us as we always lived and stayed on the east side of the city. In the fall of next year we’ll do our last Airbnb rental of the Big Adventure during our three-month stay in the Cotswolds District in England.

Our apartment in Lisbon was small but had every convenience. It was quiet, in a great location, and was very, very comfortable – we wished we could have stayed longer.

If you have ever thought about using Airbnb but haven’t, I highly recommend giving it a try. We have had nothing but great experiences. We learned a lot about how to go about having the best experience possible from the Senior Nomads’ wonderful book, Your Keys, Our Home, starting with how to go about selecting an Airbnb rental that will be the perfect fit for you and your budget. It’s full of good information about how to make the most of any Airbnb stay from start to finish.

Our current home in Portland has two bedrooms and enough beds and space for us and our girls to enjoy a comfortable stay. The kitchen is big, and the location has been great for all we’ve been up to since we arrived..

10 thoughts on “Our Airbnb Homes: Part 1

  1. Never used Airbnb. Your good experience is encouraging but I also realize that you have researched the properties really well. Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip stories.


    1. I first used Airbnb when we went to Japan in 2015 and had a great experience – I really preferred it to staying in a hotel. Research is the key though, especially learning how to read the postings and the reviews and what they say about not only the apartment or house, but especially about the hosts. Using Airbnb has saved us a lot of money plus given us the opportunity to meet many wonderful people that we wouldn’t know otherwise.


  2. I used Airbnb for the first time last summer with my daughters in Chicago, and we had a great experience! I’ve finally convinced my DH to use them on our trip to Sedona and Phoenix in late winter, and I’m really hoping he loves them. Like you, I preferred them to a hotel once I tried one. Of course, the research is key, and my younger DD really helped educate me on navigating the site.

    Your choices all look great, and I am encouraged by what a great experience you have had so far. (I will say that expansive marble floor in Rome gives me chills. LOL)


    1. I think the first Airbnb experience is the critical one – if it goes well then you can see the potential and are more eager to use it again. I so enjoy having the opportunity to make my own coffee in the morning, cook my own breakfast, etc. and have a cozy space to come back to at the end of the day. It takes research though, and a bit of trust, but for us, so far so good.

      The deal with the floor in Rome was that it wasn’t just in the living room, it was in the (huge) foyer, the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, the hallway – everywhere! And, no rugs to soften or warm things up either. We had marble on the floor in Buenos Aires too, but the space was small and cozy, so it didn’t bother us like it did in Rome. I don’t mind tile either, like we had in Florence, but there marble has a certain coldness to it that is different from other stone or tiles.

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  3. We put marble flooring in the entry and powder room of our last home, literally just before deciding to sell it. Oh my goodness – so, so cold! Much colder than tile flooring, and freezing compared to the relative warmth of wood. We won’t be making that mistake again!

    Love the layout of your various abodes. We’ve used VRBO many times, but will definitely take a look at Airbnb next time.


    1. That was what we thought about the marble in our Rome apartment – so COLD. Nothing warmed it up, even if the room was warm. Some rugs would have helped, but there were none. Thankfully the apartment was saved by its great location, otherwise that could have been a very miserable stay.

      VRBO was/in big in Hawaii – we’ve had good experiences with it. What I like more about Airbnb though is the more direct connection to the owner/host. You don’t get that with VRBO, or at least not with many of them. For the most part we’ve gotten to meet every one of our hosts in person, and make that connection.


  4. I’ve never used Airbnb because there’s something about staying in a stranger’s home that kind of creeps me out, to be honest, but I’m very glad you’ve had such good experiences. I never go away long enough to have a need to stay anywhere other than a hotel, but I can see where using them for the type of extended travel you’ve been doing is very economical and you get more of a “local” experience instead of a touristy one.

    I have two friends who have used Airbnb. One has had good experiences and the other has not, but I think the latter booked the trips hastily and didn’t do enough research, so maybe that’s why.


    1. Airbnb homes are no different from hotel rooms (well, unless you’re doing B&B type lodging) – the home is strictly for guests. Admittedly, some hosts put more effort into their homes than others, but every place we stayed has been spotlessly clean – in Florence our host’s mother offered to come and clean the house for us every week – we said no, but she still came to pick up dirty linens, etc.

      Research is the key to finding a good Airbnb match. And, you can’t just go by the pictures – it’s critical to read the reviews to get a sense of a place and how interactions go with the hosts. We always try to book with a “superhost.” They have a track record for cleanliness and good service, and good communication with their guests. Anyway, I recommend if you ever get the chance and will be somewhere long enough you give them a try – you might be very pleasantly surprised!


  5. I absolutely love following your adventures!

    I didn’t realize you were ending with a nice long stay in the Cotswolds. A friend and I hiked half of the Cotswolds trail using a service that moved our luggage from B&B to B&B. I loved it! So much that I took my dad back to the area a year later and we did some additional exploring.

    Enjoy your time with the girls over the holidays!


    1. We are greatly looking forward to our stay in the Cotswolds – we should get their early enough in the fall that we can still get in some walks and hikes. Our big discussion about it now is whether we should do a short-term car lease for the time we’re there or rely on walking, public transportation and trains to get around. I know the village where we’re staying has bus service to get us over to the bigger town with a train station but not sure if we’ll regret not having a car.

      Merry Christmas! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season as well!


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