Airbnb is a poster child for the sharing economy and has shaken up the travel industry. After working for a state tourism department during university, I was on the fence about Airbnb. I was curious about the affordable, beautiful rooms and apartments available but wondered what sort of impact they’d have on local businesses, feeling that I should be supporting people who put their heart and soul into hospitality, i.e. traditional B&B owners.
I like to support local businesses when I travel and when I’m at home, but only when it’s earned. Over the weekend, I tried Airbnb for the first time and learned that local businesses these days come in all shapes and sizes!
When I decided to surprise my boyfriend with a weekend in the Dandenongs for his birthday, I spent a long time searching for affordable accommodation where we could unwind and make the most of the beautiful scenery. To be honest, a lot of the options in the Dandenongs seemed overpriced, particularly considering the chintzy (or sometimes tacky) decor in many of the rooms and the lack of privacy. I honestly didn’t really want to stay in any of the traditional properties I found.
I did a quick search on Airbnb, and noticed that for a start, lots of traditional B&Bs were also listed on the site, which made me feel better about keeping small businesses in the loop.
I found this loft, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A free-standing, two-storey loft with views over the trees down to Melbourne. It was bright and breezy, with chic furnishings. It looked like a relaxing space to just be in, unlike so many of the stuffy rooms I’d seen online so far.
It was a space I knew that David would love – it was bright, modern and spacious. I wanted somewhere we’d feel relaxed spending time in, since he has a stressful job. Normally when I’m travelling overseas, I’m just looking for somewhere clean and secure since I’ll spend most of my time sightseeing. This time, the property was the main focus.
I messaged the host, Fiona, who was really friendly and responded really quickly to my questions – quashing any unease about staying at a stranger’s house. I booked that same night and struggled to contain my excitement for the few weeks leading up to my boyfriend’s birthday.
I’ve heard some nightmare stories about Airbnb’s, but the loft was just as described and pictured. There were no nasty surprises, in fact, there were a few nice ones! Like this roller door, which can be raised for extra fresh air and more views, but closed at night for privacy (and warmth!).
Another surprise was the view from the spa at night. We were looking over Melbourne’s city lights, but we were far enough away that the only lights shining on us were from the bright full moon and a sky blanketed with stars – a rare sight for citydwellers. Even in the middle of winter, we could have easily spent all night in the spa.
When we arrived we were greeted by Sara, who showed us around the property and made us feel at home. After hearing how beautiful the grounds are throughout the year, we’re already planning a trip back for spring!
We arrived at 3pm and didn’t leave the loft until check out late the next morning. Armed with La Boheme: The Missing Act, which is a red from one of my favourite Victorian winemakers, De Bortoli, a few cheeses and pies from the South Melbourne Market and a bottle of champagne, we had everything we needed for a great night in.
In the morning, we woke up to birds singing and lots of beautiful natural light – something I really miss about living in Brisbane! Our apartment in Melbourne is in the city and has hardly any natural light, so I really miss the fresh air, the sound of birds singing and windowfuls of greenery in the mornings. I didn’t want to leave!
We’d walked around the Arboretum before checking in the previous day, and on Sara’s recommendation, we went to Burnham Beeches for brunch and a walk around the beautiful Sir Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens.
We can’t wait to come back in spring to see the Dandenongs in full bloom, or in summer to spend lazy afternoons on the deck, hopping in and out of the spa. The Sir Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens are the most photographed “Autumn” sight in Melbourne, so it looks like we’ll need to return with the seasons!
A big thank you to our lovely hosts – I’m an Airbnb addict now!
Take your first trip with Airbnb and get $40 travel credit! Just use this link. I’ll also get $40 travel credit to use on my next trip, win win!