I recently spent three very lovely nights in the Spanish city of Malaga hosted by Airbnb. Most people know Malaga as the city they fly into en route to resorts dotted along the Costa del Sol. But how many people actually stop to explore the city itself? Not many, I dare say.
I visited Malaga when I was younger with my parents. I don’t remember an awful lot about it. And in fact, I think the city has tended to get quite a bad press, being known as nothing more than an industrial port. But I heard on the grapevine that Malaga was becoming quite the foodie destination and it turns out they were right. So keep your eyes peeled for more posts on that soon, as right now I’m going to tell you about the Airbnb apartment Mr C and I stayed in.
Booking your Airbnb apartment is really simple. I’m sure many of you have used the website before, but in case you haven’t, Airbnb is part of a worldwide community of thousands of people sharing their homes for travellers like us. You browse the places to stay according to criteria such as location, price, and whether you want the whole apartment, or are willing to share. Check out the user reviews and availability, et voila, you make your booking.
We decided Airbnb was going to be perfect for a city break. We wanted to freedom to come and go as we pleased, have a place we could chill out in that wasn’t a single hotel room, and hopefully get some insider tips on where to explore, from our host.
Airbnb is the prime example of how peer to peer travel has enabled us to do exactly that – explore destinations like a local. In fact, you might like to read my article for Virgin on this very subject.
So, on that note, it was brilliant that on arrival into the apartment, our host, Carolina, made a handy list for us of some of the top local restaurants she likes to eat in. Of course, every host will vary, but I think you’ll find it’s quite common for your host to want you to enjoy their neighbourhood. Why wouldn’t they? We were very lucky that Carolina gave us three or four key restaurants to try out over the next three or four days.
After a quick chat, Carolina left us to it and we explored the apartment. We certainly didn’t need a three-bedroom apartment being just the two of us, but hey, we saw the word penthouse and went for it.
The apartment itself was located down a tiny little alleyway off the Plaza de Constitucion (Constitution Square). It’s so pretty and quite possibly the nicest plaza in the whole of Malaga.
There was a Costa immediately downstairs (handy if you need it, although we were keen to explore some authentic Spanish cafes) and we were immediately next to many of the main streets including Calle Marques de Larios, which our host described as Malaga’s answer to Oxford Street. (Thankfully, it wasn’t at all like Oxford Street, it was MUCH more relaxed. But it did have some brilliant high street shops and quite a high end feel.)
The beach was a walkable 1km away and the Alcazaba de Malaga and entrance to Gilbralfaro (two key historic forts) were a 10 or 15 minute walk away. Put simply, we had everything on our doorstep.
The kitchen was white, sleek and filled with natural light from the skylight. There was a Nespresso coffee machine. It had no capsules but had we decided to fork out for them, it would have been a two minute walk downstairs and over to the Nespresso coffee store in the plaza.
Some Airbnb hosts may provide you with simple groceries but I think it’s rare. So we made a visit to the supermarket to get teabags, milk, bottled water and the essentials (including loo paper – I’d never thought of that one, but again, this wasn’t supplied). And you’ll find the bottles of cava here is crazily cheap. This made me smile.
The open plan living and dining room greeted you as soon as you stepped though the front door and there was a tiny utility room in the corner where we could wash our towels at the end of our stay.
Being a loft apartment there were barely any windows (bar the skylights) which is why this light well is a focal part of the flat. It really did have quite a quirky layout.
The bathroom was adequate. The shower wasn’t quite what I’d hoped, being a little bit stained and in need of a bit of TLC, but it did the job, and the earthy coloured interiors were continued throughout.
The bedrooms were spacious and while I loved the feel of this one….(it was nice and bright)…
…and liked the sloping ceilings and cool bedside lamps of this one…
…we opted to stay in the bigger, master bedroom for the spaciousness and huge of wardrobe space.
While the noise certainly travelled in this apartment (we could hear our neighbours walking across their own flat), we weren’t really bothered by any noise from people outside in the plaza, nor the traffic at night – a blessing when you live in a London flat where sirens come and go every few minutes.
I think if we did this again, we’d definitely try and find an apartment with a balcony we could chill out on, but we did have some rather spectacular views out of the skylight windows over the rooftops.
…and wine glasses the size of goldfish bowls always win me over.
As a first time ‘Airbnb-er’ I’ll happily say I’d do it again. I admit, I am a bit of a hotel addict and I wasn’t keen on having to put our own sheets on the beds (not the end of the world I know). And I did feel that this apartment could have benefited from a more thorough clean before we arrived. However, I was totally won over by the freedom and space we had to ourselves. It was also a huge privilege to have a host who was so willing to help us explore the best of the city and ‘live like locals’.
And if you follow my upcoming posts about Malaga, you’ll see we that’s exactly what we did (well, for the most part!.
For this, Airbnb is a brilliant and rewarding experience.
Until next time x
A few tips if you are a first time Airbnb-er
– Do check out the reviews before you book. It’s common sense to go with the host who has the best reviews.
– Do ask your host in advance about the essentials. Sometimes if the apartment isn’t their home, they might not have those things you take for granted (eg. hairdryer, beach towels etc).
– Once you’ve made your booking, exchange phone numbers and make sure you agree on where to meet them. Often hosts want to meet you in a public place before you arrive at the apartment which is ok. They’re just checking you’re human. It’s a good idea to leave a good amount of time to get there and take into account possible travel delays. Whatever you do, don’t leave them hangin’. Make sure you keep them up to date if you’re not going to be on time.
Oh So London was a guest of Airbnb – the world’s largest community-driven hospitality company, which connects thousands of guests and hosts online every day. Carolina’s apartment sleeps eight and is available from £75 per night in Malaga. To book, or browse over 1million more listings around the world, visit www.airbnb.co.uk.
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