Six Londoners on being an Airbnb host

Today, millions of people around the world have found their own side hustle – or even full-time job – as an Airbnb host. This home-sharing site that started from a loft rental in San Francisco, is an example of how peer-to-peer travel has boomed in recent years. Gone are the days where hotels, inns and BnBs were the only accommodation option for travellers. Become an Airbnb host and not only will you be able to make a respectable living, you can also help other travellers experience a destination like a local.

Airbnb

pic credit: Airbnb

But have you ever wondered what kind of person signs up to be in Airbnb host in London? I partnered with the room-letting site to find there are a whole range of interesting people behind those ads.

I asked them what’s so unique about their home and London neighbourhood, and what they love so much about our wonderful city.

Here’s what they had to say:

RICHARD

Age: 35

Occupation: Investment Banking

Area: Forest Gate

Richard Airbnb

credit: Airbnb

What do you love most about your area? It’s a very multicultural area and great for its variety of food markets and rich history.

Why did you decide to become an Airbnb host? We used airbnb ourselves and since we had a vacant room we gave it a try, on the first day we had five enquiries.

Can you describe your home? It’s a five bedroom Victorian terraced house in typical London style, complete with big bay windows with white wooden shutters which are very popular now in London. We moved there after our wedding because we wanted to be in the city and close to my work. We’re only three months in but we love it already.

What’s unique about the place you live in? It’s definitely got the east London feel with the less-than-pristine streets and multicultural businesses. There’s a great view of the 19th Century convent school behind. We also have a great social area in the dining room with our farmhouse style dining table with trusses and interesting pictures on the walls.

What do you like most about London? London has everything you can think of so there’s never a dull moment.

What do you like least about London? The congestion!

If you could describe London in three words what would they be? Exciting, sexy, beautiful.

What positives have come out of being an Airbnb host? Meeting new people and it’s a great source of income.

Finally, if you could swap your home with anyone’s in the world, who’s would it be? The Queen.

Check out Richard’s house here>>

CATE

pic credit: Airbnb

pic credit: Airbnb

Age: 34

Occupation: Image & confidence consultant

Area: Fulham & Hammersmith

What do you love most about your area? You have both the posh side and the cool side!

Why did you decide to become an Airbnb host? My husband often travels for work and I hate being home on my own, so this seemed like a good way of meeting new people. But most of all, I wanted to set up my own business and needed an extra help at the end of the month to make it possible. Airbnb was the best solution, and lots of fun!!

Can you describe your home? It is a 2 bedroom flat, it’s modern, colourful and it’s a total expression of who we are… maybe not the most tidiest place but surely clean and full of joy! We bought this house 7 years ago and it’s a treasure of memories of travels, people, jobs and all the experiences we’ve had since moving here – from our pictures and messages on the fridge, to our quirky bird houses decoration!

What’s unique about the place you live in? It’s logistically fantastic! It’s very convenient to get to and from Heathrow and Gatwick airport from here and it’s easy and quick to reach the high streets. We have four underground stations all within walking distance. And there are plenty of buses too. You can walk to many beautiful places like Chelsea, Fulham and Notting Hill and there are many green areas nearby.  Shopaholics love that it’s near to the famous westfield shopping centre. And for those of you that love markets, there’s one just down the road that’s open Monday to Friday.

What do you like most about London? It’s a melting pot of cultures, food and styles. I find it the most enriching place in the world.

What do you like least about London? People come and go at all times.

If you could describe London in three words what would they be? Energising, multicultural, sleepless.

What positives have come out of being an Airbnb host? It’s like travelling without stepping out from our own place and it meant I could set up my own business Cat Walkers Tours.

Finally, if you could swap your home with anyone’s in the world, who’s would it be? A Japanese geisha.

Check out Cate’s apartment here>>

JOEL

Age: 27

Occupation: Editor/Researcher at the London School of Economics.

Area: Soho

Airbnb

pic credit: Airbnb

What do you love about your area? I love the combination of seediness and extravagance, the bustling atmosphere and lively nightlife, and, most of all, the people that populate Soho and their eccentricities.

Why did you decide to become an Airbnb host?  I fell in love with Airbnb the first time I used it. The friendliness of the host, the comfort of being in an apartment in exactly the location I wanted, and the cheaper price than nearby hotels were all important selling points.

Can you describe your home? It’s an apartment, I’ve lived here around six months and it’s a simply-designed space with modern appliances and (importantly, given the buzz of Soho) double paned windows. This apartment is all about location, location, location.

What’s unique about the place you live in? My apartment is situated above London’s (or perhaps the World’s) finest patisserie called Maison Bertaux. The baking smells wafting up through the windows are a very valuable perk to staying here.

© The Whiteness 2009 via Flickr/Creative Commons

© The Whiteness 2009 via Flickr/Creative Commons

What do you like most about London? I love its vibrancy and variety. There’s so much to do and learn, and people from all over the world to meet.

What do you like least about London? People work too hard in London, and this propensity to overwork can be infectious. 

If you could describe London in three words what would they be? The global capital.

 What positives have come out of being an Airbnb host? I’ve met so many super interesting and kind people who I remain in touch with and can count on when traveling. 

Finally, if you could swap your home with anyone’s in the world, who’s would it be?

I’d like to swap homes with the Queen to see what it’s like to be that pampered.

Check out Joel’s apartment here>>

Airbnb

pic credit: Airbnb

LUCY

Age: 33
Occupation: Accountant

Area: East Acton

What do you love most about your area? It’s only 15 minutes from Central London yet is lovely and quiet.

Why did you decide to become an Airbnb host? We have a spare room which we don’t use so it made sense. Plus, we rescued a dog called Milo and the money we make through Airbnb helps pay for his dog walker who takes him out during the day.

Can you describe your home? It’s a house we bought four years ago as a ‘doer upper’ and we’ve been gradually working on it ever since.  We love the outdoors so the large garden and the park outside the front door are a great plus for us. After being crammed into a houseshare for 12 years, it’s nice to have so much space.

What’s unique about the place you live in? Aside from it being really quiet, we have amazing neighbours. We know pretty much everyone on our street which is a first for me in London.

What do you like most about London? Aside from the fabulous food and diversity of people, I find it a really tolerant and respecting city. Wherever you’re from, you’re always welcome.

What do you like least about London? Sometimes there can just be too many people (particularly on Oxford St on a Saturday).

If you could describe London in three words what would they be? Vibrant, dynamic, unrivalled.

What positives have come out of being an Airbnb host? We have met the most incredible people and they have all shared their really interesting experiences and life stories with us. We once hosted a film director who invited us on set to watch filming – that was pretty exciting. We also hosted a chef who cooked for us one evening. Milo loves meeting all the different people and I love having an excuse to bake cookies for our guests.

Finally, if you could swap your home with anyone’s in the world, who’s would it be? Anywhere warm on the beach with a view of the sea!

Check out Lucy’s house here>>

Airbnb

pic credit: Airbnb

TOM

Age: 32
Occupation: Social entrepreneur

What area do you live in? Peckham

What do you love about your area? The fact that within a 10 minute radius you have street life, entertainment venues, and large, quiet parks.

Why did you decide to become an Airbnb host? I’d enjoyed travelling using Airbnb and when my flatmate moved out, I thought I would see if I could be a host myself. I didn’t know if it would work out, but within hours I had my first booking and I haven’t looked back since.

Can you describe your home? It’s a 2-bedroom flat in an art deco development, right on Peckham Rye common. It’s a cosy place and thankfully I haven’t had to do too much to it since I moved in about two years ago. I wanted to live in Peckham because it has a reputation as a fun and friendly place with a strong sense of community.

What’s unique about the place you live in? I live next door to one of the best pubs in South London with a huge beer garden! It’s like an extension of my living room. Aside from that, the best thing is Peckham Rye common, a huge open space right in front of the flat. It’s a lovely place to walk around and imagine that you’re in the countryside.

What do you like most about London? I’m a big runner and appreciate the amount of green space around here. South London is particularly well-served. I have many parks that are within walking distance from my flat.

Peckham Rye

pic credit: Matthew Black via Flickr/Creative Commons

What do you like least about London? I worry that within a few years it will be simply impossible for lots of people to live here because of how expensive it is to rent and buy property.

If you could describe London in three words what would they be? Diverse, happening, changing.

What positives have come out of being an Airbnb host? I’m always overwhelmed by the generosity of guests, who bring gifts from their home with them, and frequently ask if I’d like to join them for dinner.

Finally, if you could swap your home with anyone’s in the world, who’s would it be? It would be pretty cool to have a private booking at 10 Downing Street. I’d go straight to the phone and make my way through the address book!

Check out Tom’s flat here>>

PREETA & ROHIT

Airbnb

pic credit: Airbnb

Age: 29 & 30

Occupation: Preeta is a Spanish and French teacher and Rohit works for a research company in Financial Services

Area: Hendon

What do you love about your area? We are away from the business of Central London but yet so close to everything because we have the tube, overground rail line and various buses all within reach. So you can be in central London in about 20 minutes and easily get to places like Wembley Stadium and West Hampstead. Above all we like that this area has a strong selection of local businesses – it’s not overrun by big chains.

Why did you decide to become Airbnb hosts? Because we are super proud of our place and we get so much joy out of hosting and meeting new people.

Can you describe your home? It’s a two-bedroom two-bathroom ground floor flat that’s modern but with character. Rohit is from Spain and Preeta is from the UK, but we both are of Indian descent so you’ll find our house has bits we have collected from all our travels as well as some things from our heritage.

What’s unique about the place you live in?  Every now and again we discover a great place to eat a few minutes’ walk away. We recently discovered a great sushi place as well as a casual Indian restaurant (which incidentally we have walked past thousands of times and never realised it was there!)

What do you like most about London? The food choices here are the best we’ve seen – you could literally eat in a different place in London every day for the rest of your lives. We have a long list of great restaurants which we try and tick off, but we can’t keep up because there are always new ones coming along!

sushi

pic credit: Tony Gladvin George via Flickr/Creative Commons

What do you like least about London?  It can get very busy. Peak times on the tube are not the most pleasant of times. 

If you could describe London in three words what would they be? Cool, cultured, crazy. 

What positives have come out of being an Airbnb host? We have met some absolutely wonderful people from all walks of life and have even made some great friends. We are big travellers so we love meeting people and discussing their adventures and journeys with them. We also find we see London through a different lens when our guests tell us what they’ve been up to, which encourages us to explore London even more. 

Finally, if you could swap your home with anyone’s in the world, who’s would it be? Anyone who lives in Tulum! We recently visited this town in Mexico and the eco-friendly environment, the clean beaches and amazing people left us wanting to go back. Plus how cool is life by the beach?

Check out Preeta & Rohit’s flat in Hendon here>>

And hey, I wrote a piece about the sharing economy for Virgin.com – check it out here

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