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Post Airbnb and the "Sharing Economy"
Created by John Eipper on 02/19/15 3:56 AM

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Airbnb and the "Sharing Economy" (Randy Black, USA, 02/19/15 3:56 am)

When I read John Eipper's comments about the high cost of hotels in Switzerland (see Pat Mears, 18 February), I knew I must tell him about the short-term apartment and home rentals that are available in an emerging rental industry that is sweeping the globe.

Whether you are in Bern, Switzerland, Paris or Madrid, there are great places available and at prices that are surprisingly reasonable.

Last March when I planned my several-week trip to France and Spain, using the global rental Website AirB&B, I explored dozens of the hundreds of privately owned apartments in and around Paris online. Some, less than a block from Notre Dame Cathedral, are available for less than $100 per night for two people.

But first, I queried Holiday Inn Express in Paris. Normally, such very nice hotels in the US run in the $80-$100 per night range, hot breakfast included. In Paris, however, the Elysées Holiday Inn Express ran more than US$350 per night plus tax and no breakfast included. I don't know about you but when I'm bedding down for the night, I don't relish thinking that it's costing me $50 an hour to sleep.

Instead, I rented an AirBnB-brokered 1-bedroom apartment for less than $90 net a night, 15 minutes' walk to the Eiffel Tower, with included toilet, shower and lavatory in an adjoining room and an included kitchenette and refrigerator for $83 per night featuring a partial view of the Eiffel Tower (see my attached photo, shot at about 11 PM). Cable, flat-screen TV was included. It was on the 6th floor of a Haussman-era building. While the elevator went only to the 5th floor, the short climb to the top floor is not taxing unless you're carrying a lot of baggage. The building included a locked ground floor entrance. With the required cleaning fee and commission, the bill averaged about $90 per night. I've stayed in better and certainly worse here and there.

In Madrid, which lists 589 apartments and homes on AirB&B, on Calle del Pez, a delightful side street near the city center, I found a secured, 100-year-old but remodeled building with a large, airy apartment that slept three.

I was treated to a terrific apartment (link to photos below), great mattress and new linens, separate kitchen with clothes washer, stove, kitchen sink, fridge and microwave, large living room with working fireplace, skylights, flat panel TV and cable, a fully-tiled bath/shower that was absolutely spotless and modern furniture on the 5th floor, no elevator, a hundred steps from a subway and perhaps 200 steps to the Grande Via. More importantly, the street was door-to-door cafes, tiny bars, small theaters and a walking environment with only one lane for car traffic.

It ran me $60 per night (still does, I just checked) plus about $35 for cleaning and another $35 for the AirB&B commission. Ironically, it was owned by a beautiful, charming and helpful Russian woman, Elena, who lives nearby with her Spanish husband.

Here's the link to Elena's Madrid apartment photos and conditions. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/531854?checkin=06%2F09%2F2015&checkout=06%2F13%2F2015&s=P3PE

Both properties were offered by AirB&B (www.airbnb.com)

See attached photo from my Paris kitchen window.

Now, for Bern, Switzerland: AirB&B shows 43 rentals in the immediate area ranging from $77 to about US$400. Here is the link to what looks like an apartment in the historic center of Bern for $160 per night, plus a service fee of US$85 for a 5-night booking.


I watched TV two years ago on the launch of AirB&B, which as it turns out is partially owned by American billionaire Warren Buffett.

JE comments:  See below.  I've never sampled the Airbnb waters, but this is part of a cultural shift of the last few years:  private citizens becoming hoteliers, car rental agencies, and restaurateurs.  Joel Stein of Time magazine recently wrote a cover story on the "Sharing Economy."  Among other things, we learn that an Italian woman rented his car and got into an accident.


Anyone want to rent my '79 Cadillac?  Write or give me a call.

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  • Airbnb; Pat Mears at World Trade Institute (Patrick Mears, -Germany 02/19/15 8:00 AM)
    Many, many thanks to Randy Black (19 February) for his kind post today informing all of us about this lodging alternative that I've heard about, but being a creature of habit, have never really investigated. I will pass this on to my wife, who is presently writing a book about Bern--hence the reason for my many recent visits there.

    As a free-lance travel journalist based here in Heidelberg, my wife has been able to negotiate stays with some of the top hotels in Bern (e.g., the Bellevue and the Schweizer Hof) on the understanding that she will produce articles describing her stays. But these overnights, although fairly heavily discounted, are not free and still can be expensive, especially now with the flotation of the Swiss franc. During our last visit, we overnighted at the Volkshaushotel on the Zeughausstrasse in the city center, a four star hotel, but even that was not cheap notwithstanding the discount given.

    This is great information to have, Randy, and I thank you again.

    JE comments: In a separate e-mail, Pat Mears sent me this link to the World Trade Institute in Bern.  Pat's WAIS post has made the WTI website!


    But the WTI folks edited out my comments!  Here's the original:


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