In recent years social networking sites have dramatically changed the concept of tourist travelling, offering an entirely new experience in discovering various world destinations. It all started back in 1999 when an unusual social network, couchsurfing.org, a service for renting free couches, appeared. The site founders wanted to enable their members to find completely free accommodation in their preferred world destination: each registered guest can “borrow” a couch or a spare bed for several nights from a friendly host. In a few years the site turned into a true social phenomenon, and today counts more than two million members from 238 countries.
However, if you’re not prone to adventurism and sleeping on somebody else’s couch, and are willing to set aside a somewhat modest amount for your ideal accommodations (for example, rent an entire apartment of a flat in the center of an interesting destination in the world for only fifty Euros), the perfect solution for you is to visit one of the following sites: AirBnB.com, iStopOver.com and Crashpadder.com… All these sites offer comfortable and quality accommodation tantamount to a hotel, but in a hostel-level price range. Detailed exploration of the offer makes you realize that you are looking at private apartments or rooms that can be rented like normal hotel accommodation for a few days at usually quite reasonable prices.
Should you, for instance, find classic accommodations in a hotel in the center of London for about 100 £, you can count yourself lucky, but if you pop over to Crashpadder.com, established in Great Britain two years ago and containing more than 59 countries in its database, you can find an ideal room for only 20 £! If Manchester or Leeds are your desired destinations, you will pay less than 10 £ per room. Since these are social networking sites, upon registration you will have to write a concise autobiography which will present you to your hosts. When you choose ideal accommodations you can ask your host anything you would like to know: should you bring your own towels or sheets, can you bring a pet with you… Payment is generally made on the spot with a credit card, but only after you see if you are fully satisfied with the chosen accommodations.
One of the oldest and most popular sites AirBnB.com was established by roommates Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky in San Francisco in 2007. In October of that same year a big design conference was held and, although everything was perfectly organized, a huge problem had arisen: all hotel accommodation in the city was booked. Joe and Brian came up with a wonderful idea to offer unknown tourists their room, a tasty breakfast and a tour of the city at a very reasonable price. They created a website, earned some money, made some new acquaintances, and in a few years’ time launched a very lucrative business that has completely changed many a tourists habits. Most offers on their site count approximately 70 guests’ comments so you can find an ideal host free of any fear. The accommodation market is very much like shopping on eBay where you will always prefer to buy from a top-rated seller. Since the number of similar sites is booming on a daily basis, we have singled out a few of the most popular:
The site was established in 2007 in San Francisco. Apart from being one of the largest social networking websites offering accommodations, it also has the largest number of user comments.
It offers accommodations in about 5400 cities in 146 countries ranging from ordinary mattresses laid on the floor to luxury mansions.
Prices range from $ 10 for a room up to $ 3000 for luxury mansions.
The site was created a year ago in Toronto, and mainly offers accommodations during big events like the Olympic Games or World Championships.
Accommodations offered mainly in North America, Europe and South America.
Prices range from $ 10 up to $ 8000.
The site was established in 2008 in London and offers accommodations mostly in Great Britain, and is especially focused on accommodations in London during the 2012 Olympics.
Prices range from $ 20 to $ 3000.
The site was established in 2008. Accommodations offered mainly in New York.
Prices range from $ 30 to $ 5000.
1. Hong Kong, PR China, 65 square meters apartment, $ 150 per day
(balcony, walk-in closet, wi-fi, fully equipped kitchen…, five minute walk to subway station)
2. Santa Cruz, California, United States, a wooden house, the most popular accommodation on AirBnB.com, $ 85 per day rent for use of the whole house
3. Stainmore, Great Britain, a castle dating back to 1841, 10 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, $ 126 per person
4. Paris, France, $ 115 bed and breakfast for two, a completely furnished kitchen, wi-fi, DVD, fireplace, balcony
5. Berlin, Germany, 58 square meters apartment, two rooms, $ 52 a night for two
6. Barcelona, Spain, smaller apartment in the city center with an equipped kitchen, $ 43 a night for two
7. Prevelly, Australia, beach house, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, $ 650 for renting the whole house
8. London, Great Britain, room for one, 30 £ a night
9. Charleston, United States, vintage motor yacht, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, $ 550 per night for four
10. Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, Boeing 727 turned into a tree hotel, three bedrooms and an unusual terrace overlooking the Ocean, $ 400 for renting the whole “airplane”