Instead Of Paying $US500/Night To Stay At A Courtyard, I Booked This $US150/Night AirBnB Room In San Francisco

I went to San Francisco to go to a conference and meet with sources. Usually when I go to San Francisco, I stay at the Courtyard Marriott downtown.

But last week, they wanted $US500 per night!

That was nuts.

So I decided to finally try out AirBnB, a service for renting other people’s rooms and homes.

I’d always been too sketched-out to try it before.

But this time I came up with 1,050 reasons to give it a try.

Would I regret my decision?

I went to San Francisco last week for a conference and to meet with sources.

Usually when I go to SF, I stay at the Courtyard downtown. The location is great, plus…

…the rooms are nice…

…a good breakfast is included…

…there's a gym…

…there's even a pool. So I was about to book a room, but then…

I saw the price! It was over $US500 per night! Ack!

I decided to try my luck with Airbnb, a site where you can rent whole apartments

I found one 'near downtown' for just $US150 per night.

In the Airbnb app, it looks great.

It looked big…

…it had a kitchen…

…it looked well-designed and colourful…

…it had a workspace and wifi…

…the app even said there would be free wine…

…finally, the listing said this photo showed off the apartment's view.

So I check out the apartment's owner.

I looked at prior renter's reviews of him. All good.

So I booked my first Airbnb stay!

Through the app, I arranged the details of my visit with the apartment owner, Carlos.

Finally, I arrived in San Francisco. Would I regret forgoing the comfortable Courtyard for some stranger's apartment?

I texted the owner's assistant to let her know I was on the train in from the airport.

When Google Maps told me to get off the train, I wondered what my apartment's neighbourhood would look like. This was my first glimpse.

Not bad!

But wait, I wasn't at the apartment yet. In fact, I had a 15 minute walk ahead.

As I went down 9th street, the neighbourhood changed

I arrived at my building. It was OK looking. How about the neighbourhood?

I looked down the street.

I looked up the street.

I looked across the street. There were a lot of mattress stores. I didn't feel in danger, but I didn't feel 'near downtown' either.

This is the hallway I walked into. I looks darker in this photo than it was. It looked like a standard walk-up hallway.

There was even some nice, generic art on the wall.

My apartment was on the third floor. Fortunately, I don't mind stairs and I didn't miss the Courtyard's elevator

I arrived at my door. This was a big moment. How would the place look? Would I want to run? I opened the door…

And whoa! The place looked great. Just like the photos online.

The kitchen was huge.

There were even clean towels, just like a hotel.

The bed was nice looking.

The bathroom was small, but who cares.

The light was great. Big windows.

The first bummer: there was no climate control in the room. Good thing SF is cool in September.

The next bummer: remember that sparkling city view from the online photo? Hah.

The biggest bummer: The place had a funny smell. Like wet cat. Eventually I got used to it.

But there were some pleasant surprises, too…like shampoo and soap in the shower.

I didn't, but I could have hosted a friend at this apartment.

There were some chocolates in the fridge.

And the last guest left some booze behind!

Lot's of free booze! The owner said I could help myself. (Didn't have time.)

I didn't cook, but I could have with all the equipment in the kitchen.

I stayed for three nights. Here's what I thought about Airbnb at the end.

Can you believe I had to make my own bed?

What was the best part? The savings, easily. I saved Businesss Insider $US1,050 staying at the Airbnb apartment instead of at the Courtyard Marriott. We're still a startup, so that's a lot of money for us. Saving so much money makes it easier for me to ask to go to San Francisco again in the future. The second best part of my Airbnb experience was the feeling of coming home to my own 'place' at night, rather than a hotel. I actually like hotels, and this was a feeling I didn't know I missed during business trips in the past.

What was the worst part? The apartment wasn't in the greatest neighbourhood. At one fancy venture capitalist party during the week, a bunch of San Francisco natives were talking about the neighborhoods they live in -- 'the Mission' 'Pacific Heights' 'the Tenderloin.'

I told them I was staying on 9th and Folsom -- 'Which neighbourhood is that?'

'The ghetto.'

This wasn't actually true. The neighbourhood was more bland and commercial than run-down and dangerous, but it did take me 15 more minutes to walk anywhere.

The other thing that was not great was the apartment's smell. Also, I missed having a gym.

Would I do it again?

That depends. The Courtyard's prices go up and down based on demand. If I could get a room there for $US250/night next time, I'd go for it. Between the free breakfast, free gym, and fewer night cab rides, it'd be almost worth. But under the same circumstances, yes, I'd go with Airbnb again.

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