While tramping around New Zealand’s South Island, we stayed in a dozen homes through AirBnB. Each was lovelier than the last, and the hosts were kindness epitomized.
One stop was especially memorable—an old woolshed turned into an airy loft. It was a massive wooden structure nestled along the back roads of a tiny, two-pub town.
We made the reservation with some trepidation, because the hosts said they were in the early stages of renovation. It was still cold in early November and we generally looked for places described as “warm and cozy,” not as “a work in progress.”
However, our stay was simply phenomenal.
It was cold, but the hosts warmed our beds with electric blankets and hot water bottles. They left us wine, cheese and chocolate for a late-night snack. In the morning, the husband served us warm tea in bed. Later, we accompanied the wife to the garden to gather ingredients for a fresh green smoothie.
It was a real, raw, and refreshing experience.
If you’re looking for something equally unique, here are my recommendations for finding adventure through AirBnB.
What to Look For
- Get off the beaten path. We chose to stay in a small town rather than a large city. The geography itself made the place picturesque. It was surrounded by forest and farmland.
- Be the guinea pig. If the place is newly listed with only a few good reviews, give it a chance anyway. First guests often receive special care and attention. Initiate communication in advance to get a sense of the hosts’ responsiveness and level of care.
- Look for key words. We were drawn to the woolshed because of the earnest and detailed description. Key phrases like “off the beaten path,” “organic garden,” “homemade honey,” and “perfect for stargazing” captured our attention. If the place sounds quirky and unique, it should make for an interesting stay.
- Use your imagination. If there are only a few pictures, but a rich description, allow yourself to experience the element of surprise. We only saw a few photos of the woolshed in advance, but that made the discovery of the actual space so much richer.
- Keep an adventurer’s perspective. The stay will likely be the furthest thing from a hotel you can imagine, with a patchwork quilt instead of white sheets and a claw foot tub in place of a shower. Bask in these one-of-a-kind details that set your experience apart.
Wherever you’re headed next, I’d highly recommend at least one night’s stay in a place you might not normally choose. More likely than not, it will give you an excellent view into the country’s culture, a chance to meet wonderful people and a good story to write home about!