In March my job took me to the London Book Fair, which meant a 2 week stay in a city I've been wanting to visit forever. How had I not been there before? Not really sure. But needless to say I was excited about the prospect of spending time there on someone else's dime. Any time I go anywhere for more than a week I stay somewhere with a kitchen because eating out every day with this many allergies (peanuts, nuts, dairy, legumes) can be very difficult and stressful. I chose to stay in an AirBnB for this trip since hotels with mini kitchens are mad expensive. It worked out to be a little less than half the cost.
I had never tried AirBnB before either, so yes I did feel weird about it.
Here's what I learned...
1. I tried to channel The Coveteur but my shoes were too dirty
The place I chose to stay was friggin gorgeous. I had the apartment completely to myself. It was a townhouse in Knightsbridge located right behind Harrods (yes I bought all the fancy jam and tea) and was likely about 700 sq. feet, so not too shabby at all. It had a decent sized washroom, a cozy kitchen, living room, dining room, and murphy bed. There was tons of closet space, a massive chandelier, and large bay windows. I didn't want to leave.
2. I read a lot of reviews, sent a lot of messages, and did a lot of Google mapping
Before clicking "book" I kept feeling like wow this place is too good to be true. I had heard some horror stories about AirBnB's not living up to expectations and in the back of my mind I thought... that's totally gonna happen here. It's a good idea to read all the reviews (I tried to read all of them but there were over 200 for this listing) and message the host if you're unclear about anything. Before booking I clarified that I wouldn't be sharing the space with anyone, that there would be an iron and a blowdryer (gotta keep up my hair game). I was also nervous that I'd accidentally be booking in some shoddy location so I did a ton of Google mapping and scoped out the proximity to grocery stores and my colleague's hotel. It was the perfect location.
3. I couldn't believe that I'd have this place to myself
Right?! How pretty is this...
4. Having my own kitchen made me more relaxed
Anyone with severe food allergies knows that travel is the highest test of anxiety. Knowing that I had my own kitchen to go home to made me feel so much more comfortable. Usually I end up being malnourished and starving at the end of a trip but this time I actually felt... normal. I was able to eat a full breakfast, made lunch and snacks to take with me for the day, and then cooked dinner at home on the nights that I didn't feel like eating out. I also got a horrible flu for the full second week so it was such a relief to have a comfy space to just drink tea and feel gross. I also fell in love with Marks & Spencer Food for groceries. Their store brand prosciutto was incredible.
5. I got over the initial weirdness of staying in someone else's home
Initially yes it was weird staying in someone else's place, but I have a feeling this apartment was permanently rented out and not actually lived in. I wasn't sharing a washroom or kitchen like I feared, there were no family photos, and the sheets were clean. The first night alone I checked all the closets to make sure there was no abductor waiting in there for me to fall asleep and I did sleep with the washroom light on. Like you wouldn't have! But after that I got over it and realized it was such a homey way to travel. The main benefit for me was that I didn't have to endure two weeks of anxiety-inducing and risky restaurant eating. For anyone with food allergies I would highly recommend this option for travel.