Airbnb actress

“This place isn’t mine. But I’m staying here for the weekend.”  Courtesy: airbnb


It finally happened…a Facebook ad actually worked on me.

No, not the Gout Study, as compelling as that surely must be.

The first-ever Facebook ad to lure me in is an intriguing travel service called airbnb.

Their website describes themselves as a “community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.” Here’s a quick intro video in which a short-haired actress explains exactly how all those strangers are letting her sprawl on their couches and pool chairs.

You can rent your spare room, condo, house, or boat when you know you’ll be out of town. Or you can use airbnb to “live like a local” in someone’s home. Which is great for avoiding the loneliness of hotels in foreign cities. It’s free to post an ad. The only time you get charged is when you’re ready to book a room (for an estimate, see my Banff room search below).

As the website states, “Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 19,000 cities and 192 countries.”

It’s a bit like home invasion without all the yelling or jail time.

Based in San Francisco, airbnb’s been up and running since August 2008. Their website looks clean, trustworthy, and easy to use. So I decided to see if I could find any interesting deals.

Next month I need to be in the Rockies to pitch TV series at the Banff World Media Festival. We’re about to hit peak season in Banff, so hotels will cost me more than I want to spend. Which is usually $5/night.[NOTE: my mother is Scottish and she always told me to try to negotiate everything down to five bucks — which is why I got my first wedding sponsored. But that’s a story for another time]

Point being, like most travellers, I just want to find the best reasonably-priced hotel I can find that won’t give me bed bugs.

When I search for 4-night stays in Banff this June, it gives me these results:

Hipmunk hotels Banff

Decent-ish hotel rooms range from $108 – $280/night. Or I could stay in a hostel for $88!

Too rich for my blood.

So I search for the same dates on airbnb (SIDE NOTE, if you’re annoyed by their all-lower-case spelling, you’re not the only one).

This is what airbnb found for me:

Banff airbnb

The big find here is that sweet looking condo (highlighted in purple) for just $85/night with what looks like a ridiculously-photoshopped mountain view.

Banff condo

I’m sold. I’m booking the condo.


$340 + $34 airbnb service fee – $26 online coupon = $348

(+ a refundable $200 deposit)

The only down side: I’m being hosted by some guy named Dre who owns the place and likes to keep it “immaculate”.

He’ll likely be sleeping in the next room, too, which could interfere with my accidental sleepwalking night stabbings.

Hope you have quick reflexes and a sense of humour, Dre!

— Ken Hegan


BING: top 10 attractions in Banff?

Read more of Ken’s MSN travel posts here and follow Ken to victory on Twitter

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