Home away from home on a budget

WHEN I was looking into staying at a hotel in New York the only part of the deal was that it had to be in Manhattan.

Unfortunately I didn't quite realise the cost for a week's accommodation in the Big Apple.

So when I asked a couple of mates what the best option would be, they came back with a word I had never heard before: Airbnb.

As soon as I Googled it, I was impressed.

Airbnb is a social website that connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay all over the world.

There are even plenty of rooms in Australia, including Toowoomba where I live.

How had I never heard of this wonderful option?

Airbnb has several benefits over staying in a hotel.

First up, you can get your own space depending on what you are looking for, including kitchen, bathroom and laundry for a fraction of the price.

Some will include Wi-Fi and use of other amenities.

Secondly it is like staying with a friend if you choose. Some places your host might not be there, but others like ours stay and can even give you great holiday pointers.

Of course there are things you need to do to make sure you aren't booking somewhere dodgy.

First up, contact the host and ask heaps of questions. Then check out their reviews. Airbnb has a similar system to websites like TripAdvisor.

Places which are rated highly get featured up the top. So you can see what people think.

Once we settled on a place, I had great communication with Corey who lived in a nice neighbourhood near Central Park, right near the subway.

The part that grabbed my eye was that he was a graphic designer, interested in art and culture.

There were even pics of his apartment so we could see his flat was neat and trendy.

When we arrived, his apartment was part of a gated community, so we felt really safe.

We had access to the private laundry which, after several weeks travelling elsewhere, was a godsend.

On the first night Corey took us out to dinner at the amazing Caribbean restaurant around the corner and the next day came with us to an art gallery.

Over the week we enjoyed his company and conversations and even made him Aussie burgers on our last night.

And the best part? A nice room in Manhattan that cost us just $60 a night. Brilliant.

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Manhattan room connection just $60 a night. http://www.airbnb.com

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