There was a lot going on this half term. I’ve talked before about the challenges of working from home during the school holidays, and this one had some extra dimensions – a product launch for my client Mum to Mum VIP on Monday, two new clients who had commissioned website content reviews, and brand new logos for another long-standing client. Plus we all wanted to go away for a bit, to enjoy the beauty of the British countryside in the autumn.
This is where the brilliance of Air BnB came in. I realise I’m a bit late to this party. I’d heard of it before, of course, but never used it – and it really struck me how well it’s bringing together what people want from a global booking site, and the personal contact and care that make a break really special.
When we go away abroad, we’re all about the convenience of All Inclusive. When we go away in the UK, it’s all about the convenience of self-catering. We prefer the space and self-containment of our own cottage or apartment here, and although organising the food beforehand adds extra length to the list of stuff to prepare, it means we’re not tied down to meal times or places.
Until Air BnB, we’ve found it much harder to find a self-catering holiday let that fits with the time we’re able to spare. We don’t usually take a whole week, for example – we’d rather have a day or two either side to prepare, and then to relax before plunging back into the routines. But shorter lets often have strict check in and out days, which sit across a long weekend, or require check in on an inconvenient day.
With Air BnB properties, you can book what you want for however long you want, on the day you need it. It’s got a great website, with the ability to search on all sorts of criteria, narrow your list down to a shortlist, and then plot it on a map. Then there’s the usual system of review and feedback, so you can see the reputation your potential host has built up.
This is how we found Cofastre, our beautiful little let for three nights this week, in Somerset.
We chose it mainly for the hot tub, but also for the remote location. It turned out to be the village closest to Worthy Farm, of Glastonbury fame, when it must be an absolute nightmare, but it was tiny and idyllic and peaceful and perfect at this time of year. There were amazing views of Glastonbury Tor as we drove there, and some of the atmospheric mists at twilight lent it a rather mystical feeling. It was lovely to be somewhere so steeped in ancient British history at this time of year.
We had a packed few days, one of the highlights being a trip to Longleat House and Safari Park. Hearing the boys laugh as we drove round the monkey enclosure is a sound I will remember forever – especially as a large one gnawed off the screenwash sprayer, another bounced up and down on the rear wiper, and a car in front had its trim ripped off, with the culprit then using the resulting weapon to beat a tattoo on the roof. We visited one of the most peculiar tourist spots I have ever been to – Wookey Hole Caves and Attractions – and then the majestic and ancient wonder of the Roman Baths in Bath.
The hosts were lovely, living in the adjoining property, and for such an automated and modern system of web booking and online payment, the whole stay had a real community feel to it – there were real people who care about the property and our time there, behind the process and the web façade. Air BnB is a fantastic example of a system with global reach, that can cater to modern needs and expectations; but with at the point of your stay, all the feel of a small community, and the human touches that really make an experience memorable.