Airbnb, a community marketplace where people can list and book unique accommodations around the world, recently launched their Neighbourhoods feature in Sydney.
The site has been around since 2008 and now connects people to travel experiences in more than 33,000 cities and 192 countries.
The site has consistently offered great information about the choices for accommodation but the Neighbourhoods feature now provides more hyper-local spotlights on different places.
Airbnb currently has Neighbourhood features in places like Los Angeles, Boston, Buenos Aires, London, Rome and Venice and has now added Sydney and Tokyo.
While the Neighbourhood feature does give more in-depth information about each neighbourhood, it seems to give more of a sense of the feeling of that area rather than specific recommendations on where to go.
The Neighbourhood feature combines beautiful photography from local photographers, a bit of editorial perspective as well as some practical information.
One thing that I found with the Neighbourhood feature is that it is a bit limited when it comes to customization.
It’s different than many other accommodation booking sites where you can type in something like ‘family-friendly’ or ‘good for business professionals’.
Instead you can simply click on the already existing tabs like ‘touristy’, ‘great transit’, ‘shopping’, ‘by the beach’ or ‘loved by Sydneysiders’.
The neighbourhoods all have cheeky little descriptions that have clearly come from locals who know the areas well.
Bondi Beach’s description is simply ‘Babes on the beach. Babes at the bars’ and includes a couple tags like ‘famous’, ‘sun baking’, ‘swimming’ and ‘laid-back’.
Within each feature you’ll find an array of stunning photographs of typical homes in the area, people out and about and several local shops.
The images often show the name of the retailer so you know which one they are highlighting but they do not provide actual information about the specific place such as an address or web site.
On one hand I wished they had been a bit more specific though the ambiguity allows you to go out and really explore the area on your own.
I recently used Airbnb’s Neighbourhood feature to find a place to stay in Sydney.
I chose the neighbourhood of Surry Hills, described as “Cool places and cooler people comprise one of Sydney’s coolest neighbourhoods.”
A bit vague but it does go on to give a bit more information about the area.
Each feature provides a map of the neighbourhood and its location within the larger area, as well as information about travel time from the airport and the ease or difficulty of having a car and using public transport.
As a bit of a foodie myself I loved the images of the numerous bars and cafes within the area and decided it would be a great spot to explore Sydney a bit more.
I ended up staying in a warehouse style apartment owned by Daniel Joyce who has been using Airbnb for the past 3 years.
Joyce originally started renting out his apartment when he was planning to go overseas and booked a place to stay on his travels.
Upon making the booking abroad Airbnb suggested that he list his place for rent while he was away.
Liking the idea Joyce ended up renting out his place for two months and financed his whole trip before he had even left.
“It was a brilliant experience. And my first couple experiences with Airbnb were just so good, pretty much everyone has left the apartment even cleaner than when they arrived and even some have left gifts to say thank you or if they broke a glass or something. Just the quality of people who rent is so high it creates a really great experience,” he said.
While some people are a bit skeptical of letting strangers into their home, myself included, Joyce said he’s come up with a pretty good system that works for him.
“I only ever accept people that have reviews and that have a rental history, if anyone doesn’t have a profile or experience then for me it’s just too risky,” he said.
Joyce said he did know a few people to have bad experiences like guests who scratched the floor but they typically were not very choosy about their guests.
The level of trust and communication is quite high which seems to have created a great community within Airbnb.
“You definitely form really strong relationships with a lot of the people that stay and I’m still in touch with a couple of them. I tend to have a lot of entrepreneurs and exciting people from around the world who stay here so generally if they’re coming for a couple weeks I’ll have a coffee with them when they arrive and you chat and bond and half the time I’ll have a beer with them if I’m still around,” he said.
“I see it more as a positive opportunity not just to network but to make some really interesting connections.”
Joyce was more than happy to recommend a number of cafes, restaurants and bars within five minutes’ walk of his apartment.
So while the Neighbourhood feature might not supply a direct guide to the area, chances are your host will know just where to go.
For more information, visit https://www.airbnb.com.au/.