For our road trip to New Orleans, we booked through www.airbnb.com for the first time. The hotel we usually stay at in NOLA was booked so we checked with friends for recommendations and one raved about airbnb. Intrigued, we browsed the site. Many of the accommodations are like micro bed and breakfasts: maybe a guest room or a guest house, but not 8 rooms or anything. And the prices were often really great, with all sorts of cool places ranging from dirt cheap to completely reasonable. We stayed in Memphis, New Orleans, and in Nashville during our trip and we tried slightly different options at each stop.
In Memphis, we stayed in the cheapest, least private of the accommodations we booked: in a very sweet couple’s guest bedroom. It was a 1920’s bungalow that they’ve been lovingly restoring in the eclectic Cooper-Young neighborhood in Midtown Memphis. Picture a funky, hipsterish neighborhood in the midst of gentrification and you’ve got it: coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and shops all within walking distance of where we stayed.
There were pros and cons to staying here: our room seemed like it had been perhaps an office at some point and was set up more like a pass-through with doors on each end of the room than like a private room, so I was kind of always double checking the doors. I was a little shy to be in a room right in the middle of a stranger’s home, you know? The bed was small but not bad.
On the plus side, the price was super inexpensive and the house was quite nice. And although it was down a shared hallway, we had the use of our own bathroom and it was really great: nice big pedestal sink and a delicious cast iron tib, plus the shower had wonderfully strong water pressure. The neighborhood was cool and comfortable –easy to get to several great places to eat. I had the best cheesy spinach and turkey grits ever at a nearby coffee-house, and my husband appreciated being so close to the Goner Records store. Oh, and I got a completely brilliant pair of sunglasses in the neighborhood at a groovy, thoughtfully edited antique store that specialized in mid-century modern wares and the Young Avenue Deli deserves its good reputation. The deep-fried stuffed artichoke hearts we had there? Improbably light and delicious.
Our hosts were mostly invisible, but for all that were friendly and had some great suggestions concerning places to check out while in town. Jeff said that the dance floor at the Stax museum, with episodes of Soul Train projected on one of the walls was not to be missed and he couldn’t have been more right. Plus they had an adorable chihuahua (that’s his portrait over our bed) who graciously let me cuddle him.
All in all? Even though being right in the middle of a stranger’s home pushed me outside of my comfort zone a little, I loved where we stayed in Memphis. It was a cool way to get a different view of the city than we’d have had at a big chain hotel. Definitely a win!