Charm Unplugged

Have you ever stayed in a B and B or a guesthouse? Why might you choose that type of space over a Best Western, Hampton Inn, or a Hilton?

Lately, Dave has been booking our overnight stays and even our winter vacation rentals through airbnb.   From yurts to castles, it is the largest booking site in the world in 33,000 cities. They started out finding cheap places where people could sleep on an air mattress (thus the “air” part of the name) on someone’s living room floor. Sofa surfing was also part of the deal. Obviously this was good for people, like students, who were on a very limited budget. Soon others with a few more bucks to spend and an interest in getting to know the locals, asked for a real bed and maybe their own bathroom and even an apartment with a fully equipped kitchen.

For an entire house, like we use for our walk and wine trips, Judy uses Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO).  They specialize in entire houses.

We’ve had good luck with booking places that are not part of chains. But, let’s face it; you aren’t assured of the uniformity of the chain hotels when you stay in someone’s home. Websites, pictures, and reviews don’t necessarily tell you about the tricky front door lock or the lack of shelf space in the bathroom.

Take our trip to Syracuse. We stayed in a lovely hilltop neighborhood with a view of downtown and the hills beyond. It was a big house with six bedrooms. Two were used for guests and the rest for the large family of our host. Charm Unplugged

The house had lovely stained glass windows in the public rooms downstairs, a huge projector TV screen above the fireplace, lots of overstuffed sofas and chairs, fresh flowers, draping tasseled curtains, a sideboard with self serve breakfast and fresh coffee, gorgeous oak molding, authentic bathroom tile, and a portico over the driveway.

This place had CHARM.

In this case, the house was run more like a B and B with a few more amenities than other airbnb places we’ve stayed. Our bed was made for us and fresh towels came every day. We had little chocolates, a coffee pot, computer/TV, and bottled water in our bedroom

When you stay in any rental you learn its quirks. When we were getting ready for bed we had to find a way to put a table lamp on my side of the bed since I like to read in bed. This required getting an empty drawer to use as a nightstand and moving a lamp. Two lamps were available since they were purely decorative. They were against a wall that had no plugs. The fake fichus tree, which had been hovering over my pillow, had to be moved to make room for this arrangement.

The bathroom had no towel racks but there were two hooks. We cleared off a towel shelf to use for sundries. The bathroom door wouldn’t shut without effort but that is pretty standard. They also had a little aroma squirting thingy in the bathroom that puffed periodically. It sounded a little like a very polite lady sneezing.

These types of places have lots of dead and dusty potpourri in baskets and containers. In another room I slept in about a month ago, there were three of these on top of the dresser. I moved them to the floor to make room for my stuff.

Housekeeping is spotty. While in Syracuse, I removed some well-encamped spider webs from a corner. The windows were those old double hangers and the house had plenty. I wouldn’t want to put window cleaning tops on my “to do” list either. But where it really counts- bathrooms and beds- there is always careful attention. It is always good.

So why stay in a charming place where you can’t plug in the lamps?  Because going to a hotel is bland, predictable, and somewhat boring. There are times when I like that, but part of travel is getting local flavor and you just can’t get that from talking to the desk receptionist a Holiday Inn Express.