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Earlier this year while I trying to find a fun location to celebrate my birthday (which I usually do in Miami), I decided that there was only once place that I wanted to spend it: Ireland! I have been very fortunate to build up an great group of friends in the Dublin area over the past few years whom I have become incredibly close to, and I knew I wanted to celebrate with them. Plus, I am just in love with Dublin!
I wanted to make this a truly international excursion so I reached out to my friends in Miami, SF, NYC, London and Madrid to let them know that we’d all convene in Dublin the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day. In order to make this happen on such a heavily visited weekend, I would have to act early, so I reserved some rooms at my go-to property the Westin Dublin at the beginning of January. Soon enough, my invite list grew, and I knew that I would need more rooms. However, the Westin had already booked up, so I decided to look into alternatives like VRBO (which I’ve used before and had a great experience), and Airbnb, which TPG Managing Editor Eric Rosen had used before and really liked. Not only are there great properties on it, but by using your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you earn 2.14X points per $1 since it is coded as a travel merchant.
After scouring the site to find an ideal location, I stumbled upon a remarkable three-level property right on the River Liffey that had three bedrooms for myself and my friends. It was expansive, had tons of charm and character, and better yet, upon further research I discovered that the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade went down the road right in front, so we would have ringside seats and be right in the heart of the action.
As I mentioned, the property had 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, accommodations for 6 and plenty of space to entertain, which was very important for me considering I had friends coming in from all over.
I contacted the “host,” a very nice Irish lad named Fionn, and made a reservation with him for 5 nights at a rate of $924/night. That worked out to $154 per person per night – not bad!
The reservation required full payment in advance so I put it on my Chase Sapphire Preferred, and I noted that this property’s cancellation clause fell into the “Strict” category for Airbnb which stated that I would only get a a 50% refund up to 1 week prior to arrival (minus fees), so my decision was set.
TPG Creative Director Adam Daniel Weiss was already in town (check out his review of the Morrison Hotel Dublin here), and prior to his arrival, I connected him and Fionn to let him know that Adam would be checking in before me and making sure the property would be up to snuff and ready for our arrival.
Adam met up with Fionn early in the morning and was greeted very warmly by all the flatmates who gave him the lay of the land on the property, some general house rules and to hand off the keys. It was all fairly straightforward – no loud music, keep the place clean and respect the neighbors.
When I arrived later that day, I found that they had left some in-depth information packets explaining how to use everything from the hot water heater (more on that later) to the security key fobs as well as tons of information about the area and suggestions on places to visit. They were also kind enough to leave cupcakes, strawberries and prosecco as a special birthday treat for me, which was a nice touch.
The building housing the apartment was in an incredible location, just blocks from Trinity College and a 3-minute walk to the Westin, where some more friends were staying. Within the building was a Blood Donor Clinic, so there were non-residents sharing the elevator at times. However, I never felt that this was a security concern. The apartment itself was indeed spacious, with stunning views of the River Liffey, the Dublin Spire and Phoenix Park in the distance.
As I have never experienced renting through Airbnb, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when it came to the personal property of the hosts and how they handle moving things out of the way for incoming tenants. I know of a friend who locks up all of his belongings and clothing and has a spare dresser for guests to use, so going into this place I was somewhat expecting that. What I found was that the three hosts who rent the property basically packed an overnight bag, grabbed a toothbrush and hit the road. It’s not that their clothing or personal items was strewn about, however the openness of their closets and storage area made it so that their belongings were in full view at all times. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was something to take note of – and there was no mistaking we were in someone’s home.
One big red flag was that the people who lived there had a cat, something that was not listed anywhere in the booking or on Airbnb. I discovered this after finding a makeshift cat-proof door on the spiral staircase to prevent it from going up the stairs, plus there were several stray cat hairs on some of the sofas and cushions. For me, this was not that huge of an issue, but if one of my friends had a cat allergy and we had been alerted to it ahead of time, it might have been a decider as to whether we would have rented.
I stayed in the main room and had a double sized bed that had basic sheets and pillows. This certainly was not as comfortable as a standard hotel room, but it was perfectly fine, though if you require high thread counts and fluffy pillows, you would have been sorely disappointed. The other two bedrooms were small and one smelled like peet (kinda like tootsie roll), which is used in heating domestic homes. It didn’t bother Adam, but I would not have wanted to stay in that room.
We did have a few slight issues with the property (hot water never came on or was intermittent leading to frigid afternoon showers, clogged drains, etc.), however the hosts were easily accessible and more than willing come over and assist or email back in a timely manner to help, which we appreciated. We also made sure to do our best to keep the apartment as tidy as possible, cleaning up after ourselves and when we had people over for St. Patrick’s Day as well. We were cognizant that we were staying in someone’s apartment rather than a hotel, and we wanted to respect their home, so we cleaned up as much as possible, but at the end of the day we were paying nearly $1,000 a night, so a cleaning service should have come in after we left.
Departure and Billing
As we were all departing at different times, and my flight back to the states was early in the morning, one of my friends would need to be present to meet the hosts to return the keys in the morning. Fortunately my friend Eric was able to assist as his flight was taking off later than the rest of us. Eric met up with Fionn’s roommate and provided the keys as they did a quick walkthrough to make sure all was kosher. Airbnb holds a security deposit for the stay, however as we made sure that there were no damages and everything was left in the manner and state it was presented to us this was never charged. Following our stay, the hosts would have a cleaner come to make sure everything was back to normal. The very reasonable cleaning fee was included in our total.
As I said, this was my first experience using the Airbnb service personally, and I was really pleased with it. The ease of booking, contacting the hosts and addressing any issues was unrivaled. The location of the property couldn’t have been more ideal or convenient. It was a bit unexpected to find clothing hanging the bathroom, shoes stacked in the stairwell and cat hair on the cushions, but I guess this is what you get when you move into someone else’s apartment for a week. Some Airbnb properties are much more turnkey and are solely rentals, so be sure to confirm with your host what the condition of the apartment will be before you decide to rent. All in all, Airbnb made it really easy for me find an alternative to a hotel, and given the points earned, this was definitely a worthwhile expenditure considering we had a great meeting point and had a terrific Paddy’s Day with our Irish friends watching the parade from the best seat in town!