Needless to say, I hadn't tried AirBnB yet. I'd browsed it a few times - I've had an account since 2013, when I considered listing my New Jersey apartment - but I'd never taken the plunge. I'll sleep in hotel beds & on friends' couches, thanks.
But when Mike & I booked tickets to California for a wedding in Redondo Beach, we didn't love the idea of staying in the wedding hotel all four nights of our stay. It seemed like the perfect time to get on board with the Internet's favorite rental site, if not absolutely late to the party. We found a private cottage two blocks from the Redondo Beach Pier, which played nicely into our plans not to rent a car.
When the time came to check out of our hotel - a very lovely Doubletree in Torrance, CA, within walking distance of an In-N-Out - I was skeptical about leaving it for any place that didn't have turn-down service. Our hotel bed was so damn comfortable, & the pool had waterfalls, for crying out loud! Whyyyy hadn't we just planned to stay put?
But as soon as we arrived at our AirBnB, a small, detached cottage in the backyard of a main home, all my worries disappeared. Our little studio cottage was essentially a freestanding hotel room, bathed in sunlight, outfitted with a fluffy king bed, & sporting sliding glass doors that led to a massive courtyard lined with lime trees. It was, in a word, perfect. These photos, taken on Mike's, uh, less-than-stellar phone, hardly convey its greatness.
We had zero plans for the second half of our trip, which was pretty incredible & incredibly uncommon. We woke up every morning asking, "What should we do today?" & the answer was always, "Whatever the hell we want." Because we were located so close to the pier, we spent nearly all of our time there - reading on the beach, wandering the boardwalk, enjoying the sounds of the ocean, eating chilaquiles & drinking beer on a balcony, trying out stand-up paddle-boarding, consuming copious amounts of iced coffee & boardwalk churros, & just generally taking in the scenery & relaxing for a couple of days.
We couldn't have had the vacation we did if we'd decided to stay in a hotel the whole time, namely because there are no hotels near the Redondo Beach Pier - & there was no beach near our hotel in Torrance. Instead, choosing to hole up in an AirBnB allowed us to have a slightly more authentic experience, not beholden to all the standard touristy places (or their prices). We got to stay in a quiet cottage in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance of enough interesting places to keep us busy, but not so many that we felt we had to do something all the time.
We were only gone for five days, but they were five of the most glorious days I've had in a long, long time. I came home refreshed & relaxed & rejuvenated, exactly the way vacation is supposed to work. I also came home a believe in AirBnB, & I can't wait to try it again. Which city shall I visit next?!