in order to make that possible, i visit friends and get tips from locals whenever i can. however, there is another way to get that real experience when hoping to explore + discover the secrets and soul of a place.
i have now used airbnb twice when i’ve traveled. my love and i spent a week in new york city in an alphabet city, lower east side airbnb apartment – and it was amazing. for four days and four nights we felt like “real new yorkers”. of course, i know that we were only scratching the surface, or not even scratching it, i suppose. still, staying alone in an five story walk-up, having a place to call our own, with keys, a rooftop terrace and even a local, corner grocery store and bar made the experience so genuine + authentic, relaxing + exciting. we just blended right into the city, made our own little mark, and felt right at home.
since that experience had been such a success, and since i’d had about 5 months of experience on the hosting side of airbnb last fall when i helped my brother set up his own airbnb apartment, we decided that we’d try to find something in stockholm for our pride weekend celebration a few days ago.
now, stockholm isn’t but a 40 minute train ride from where we live, we visit the city quite often, and we have a fair number of friends/family who also live there. but, we thought it’d be nice to just have some time all to ourselves. so, i got to searching.
when i saw the heading “bright loft in mariatorget”, i was sold. without even seeing the photos. i ended up booking the apartment since it was located right in the middle of södermalm, or söder, the funky, hippie, artsy greenwich village of stockholm. the perfect location for us. and this place just happened to be right on mariatorget, maria square, a park filled with trees, a fountain, and grassy spots. there were cafes, pubs, restaurants, quirky shops, and beautiful buildings all around. pretty much all of our wishes boxes were ticked.
so, we packed our bags, hopped the train, and met our host at 11am last saturday outside the old wooden doors to the building. turns out, the host is from the states and his boyfriend is swedish. a bi-national gay couple. sounds familiar? hehe.
we walked into the majestic building, and entered the old-fashioned, wrought iron elevator to go to the second floor. i could not wait to see the apartment in real life.
we stepped in through the double doors and entered a light-filled, airy, mind blowing loft apartment. it was as if my brain could not process fast enough all that my eyes were seeing. the space, the air, the gigantic windows (!), the colors: grays, white, naturals, pops of gold. the minimalist, industrial details.
it was indeed perfect.
we went through all of the practical things, got a little tour, got the keys + the code for the door, and then chatted a bit. the swedish boyfriend came blowing in soon after us, toting with him new sheets that he bought for us to use. he disappeared up the ladder to the loft, made the bed for us, and before we knew it they both were off + we are on our own. standing there with our jaws on the floor.
friends, this is what is amazing about airbnb:
you get to stay in places you’ d never, ever stay in (or even see) otherwise. plus you have the privilege of meeting people, perhaps even connecting with them, as we did with our boy hosts.
so, now lina and i were on our own. this bright, beautiful, industrial loft apartment was ours for two days and two nights!
but, enough chit chat. here is the tour that i’ve been promising you. get ready. you will lose your mind. oh, and by the way, this was CHEAPER than staying in a hotel. for real.
have you used airbnb before when traveling? how was your experience? and, if you haven’t, have i now convinced you? i truly, deeply, highly recommend it. you will find yourself staying in incredible places, cheaper than in hotels (which was also true in NYC, by the way), meet interesting people, and get tons of local tips, such as the best drink to order at the tiny bar two blocks away or the yummiest spring rolls deep in the heart of chinatown. all the while, feeling like you are a real local during the time that you are living your little alternate life.
too bad the guys are moving to LA on thursday!! guess we won’t get to visit this apartment again – but we have been invited to visit them in LA! and, the memories of our slow mornings sitting in the window sills sipping coffee, or bounding out of the apartment building and right in the middle of the funky söder street vibes, or grabbing snacks at the local 7-11 late at night + enjoying a walk down cobblestone streets after sunset, will stay with us forever.
onwards + upwards! xoxo