The ELLE Canada ed­i­tors’ guide to Airbnb.

Two ed­i­tors on their Airbnb ad­ven­tures while cov­er­ing Fash­ion Week in Paris and Mi­lan.

Elle (Canada) - - Insider -

A CANA­DIAN IN PARIS Ugh. It’s 7 a.m. on a Mon­day morn­ing in Paris, and I can’t get away with hit­ting the snooze but­ton again. It has been a hec­tic few days of rac­ing to Paris Fash­ion Week venues non-stop, from the Bois de Boulogne to the Palais de Tokyo to the old Crédit Ly­on­nais build­ing and every­where in be­tween. To­day prom­ises to be an­other busy one, and the last thing I want to do is get dressed to schlep out the door for a baguette and café au lait. So I don’t! I just shuf­fle out to the kitch­enette here in my lit­tle Airbnb stu­dio in the heart of Le Marais, know­ing the bread from yes­ter­day af­ter­noon is still good, there is Fau­chon orange mar­malade in the fridge and the Keurig cof­fee ma­chine is primed and ready to go with a pod of—what else?—French roast.

Ho­tels, with their anonymity and luxe turn­down ser­vice, are nice. But while a ba­sic room at a three-star ho­tel prob­a­bly costs three times what I’m pay­ing here, I re­al­ize it’s not so much about the sav­ings; it’s about get­ting a chance to im­merse my­self in a neigh­bour­hood. “It’s a great way to meet in­ter­est­ing peo­ple from all over the world,” Le­an­dro Alves, my Airbnb host, told me when I ar­rived. “Ev­ery­one has a story be­hind why they’ve come to Paris. If you have any ques­tions while you’re here, please call me.” We ex­changed What­sApp info, and he was off.

The apart­ment is small, yes, but it’s com­fort­able and has homey touches you wouldn’t get at a luxe prop­erty—let alone a Best Western—and it’s only $200 a night. It looks ex­actly the way it ap­peared in the pho­tos, and the bath­room is ac­tu­ally even posher than I thought. The win­dows open over rue Geoffroy l’Angevin, a small street that runs be­tween rue du Tem­ple and rue du Beaubourg. The bak­ers at the aptly named Pain Vin Fro­mages restau­rant two sto­ries be­low are ob­vi­ously at work al­ready. I am steps from Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou, and the comp­toirs of rue Ram­buteau are so close that I can al­most smell the Pont-l’Évêque cheese.

De­spite Airbnb’s grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity—47 mil­lion guest vis­its and count­ing since it launched seven years ago—there’s still an air of equal parts start-up and out­law as­so­ci­ated with it. I stayed at an­other Airbnb place last sea­son in Mi­lan and it was ter­rific, but those who haven’t tried the DIY-rental ser­vice of­ten ask me if I feel safe be­ing in a stranger’s home rather than a ho­tel. Fair ques­tion, and it’s why it’s im­por­tant to read all the posted com­ments about your host. Le­an­dro’s were stel­lar, so I wasn’t wor­ried. “We want to cre­ate an ex­pe­ri­ence for a guest who wishes to have an au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence in Paris,” he told me when we first ex­changed emails to ar­range the book­ing. Mis­sion ac­com­plished. NOREEN FLANA­GAN

THE ITAL­IAN JOB When I was plan­ning my first trip to Mi­lan for Fash­ion Week, I knew I wanted to im­merse my­self in the city’s glam­orous and sto­ried cul­ture. And al­though I’m fa­mil­iar with New York, Paris and Lon­don, I knew very lit­tle about the fourth fash­ion cap­i­tal (pizza and Prada aside). The first part of my ad­ven­ture was at a posh ho­tel in the city’s north­east end—it was gilded and luxe but sur­rounded by busy park­ways that were best suited to car ser­vice, not cob­ble­stone cruis­ing. So, for the lat­ter half of my week-long stay, I wanted to counter that with an ex­peri­ence that would let me walk as much as pos­si­ble. (The city is not known for hav­ing an im­pres­sive tran­sit sys­tem, and taxis can be tricky to pro­cure.) I de­cided to try Airbnb, which al­lowed me to con­trol my search op­tions ac­cord­ing to price, ameni­ties and neigh­bour­hood. Pi­azza del Duomo, where many fash­ion events are held, is beau­ti­ful, but it’s a very touristy part of town. (Hey, why fly all the way to Mi­lan to stay next to a Zara?) In­stead, I was drawn to the lively Br­era area, which is known for its wind­ing streets burst­ing with lo­cal bou­tiques, cafés and res­tau­rants. (And it’s also a short walk from the Duomo.) Even­tu­ally, I set­tled on a list­ing called Lux­ury B&B Antica Br­era, a two-bed­room apart­ment en­sconced in a stun­ning palazzo, for $373 a night. Sì, gra­zie! KATHER­INE FLEM­MING

Noreen en­joyed her morn­ing cof­fee on this ban­quette.

Kather­ine mul­ti­tasked break­fast and blog­ging at this din­ing ta­ble.

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