The one careful owner of Kate and John’s weekend apartment in New Orleans may be a great shopper at swap meets, flea markets and yard sales. Or perhaps she has way more than the average number of nutty relatives who have bequeathed her random objects from their own eccentric collections. Olivia’s apartment was painted dark purple and was filled with everything from Cloisonne vases to Matryoshka doll to a sales kit for selling custom bindings for family bibles. There was a very inviting-looking spare bed in the corner of the living room, upon which we reclined–taking turns of course– during short intervals between enormous meals. Olivia, we learned from photos stuck to the front of her fridge, is 29 and a waitress. Kate and John know her only through AirBNB.com, an excellent website that matches often impecunious travelers with those willing to vacate or share their homes to make a honest buck. Once Olivia had established Kate and John’s interest in staying for a few days, she packed up her dog and her boyfriend and decamped to a friend’s place leaving us to enjoy the contents of her pantry and a lot of unanswered questions about her interior design essentials.
I love the idea of AirBnB and plan to advertise the charms of my Itchy Ankle abode. I shall model myself on Blackpool landladies of old, bringing a little Les Dawson to luckless holidaymakers in search of a clean bed by the bay. I don’t care if people go through my knicker drawer and they’re welcome to anything they dare to eat from the fridge. With luck, people may leave the house tidier than when they found it.
I also plan to stay in AirBnB properties all over the world. Given my recent unhappy experiences with proper hotel chains it will afford a welcome change. (Let’s not discuss the unfortunate business of the very drunk girl and her bachelorette friends in the room next to me at La Quinta this weekend. Plus of course my troubles with the Marriott. I am yet to forgive their poor performance in the week of Hurricane Sandy) It is just so much more interesting to stay where someone really lives than in a bland, uniform, branded bedroom that no one would ever call home.
I have a friend who enjoys both a keen eye for interior design detail and an adventurous libido. He travels a lot and is often invited home by young men eager to show off–ahem–their etchings. He conceived the idea of compiling a coffee table book that would feature his acid remarks on both the sexual encounter and the decor where the liaison took place. A degree of anonymity would be preserved: he rarely troubles to ask for or remember names, and would photograph only the fixtures and fittings. Unfortunately this project never got as far as a publisher, not least because, in the heat of passion, he would forget to take note of the what-nots and omit to snap the soft furnishings. It’s a shame because nowadays there would be a great market for a book called Fifty Shades of Beige.
Perhaps I, undistracted by lust, can adapt the idea, using AirBnB stayovers as my inspiration. Who wants the publishing rights?