Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Airbnb to the rescue!

The nuns rejected our reservation request.  It turns out that the good monks and nuns of Italy do not spend all their time on their smartyphones, constantly updating the availability of their monasteries and convents. So, when the website said that there was room at the inn, there wasn't.

At first, I read the email I received to inform us of our failure to make a reservation connection incorrectly.  I thought it said that the weekend after Easter was a busy one in Rome because it was the anniversary of the date John Paul II became Pope.  And I wondered, wasn't he at least two popes ago? Why are they still celebrating that?

In fact, what the response said was that April 27th is the canonisation date of Pope John Paul II. We will be in Rome on the day when he is declared a saint. I don't know what this process involves, but apparently many people need to be in Rome for the occasion. According to a news report, many of those people will be Polish.

But knowing the true story didn't help us find a place to stay. Just the opposite, of course. So I got on my trusty computer and scouted around airbnb, that miraculous website that had already found us a place to stay in Venice.

I needed to find a place to stay for the four of us that wasn't too expensive, didn't have too many stairs, and was convenient to the center. There were some places, but most of the hosts wrote back to say that their apartment wasn't available for our dates. Finally someone wrote back with an available apartment that had two double beds and only 10 stairs to the elevator.

The more I looked at the photos of the apartment, though, the more I hesitated. As far as I could tell, besides the bathroom, there were only two rooms, the room that barely fit two double beds and a very small kitchen with a tiny table and four chairs. Nowhere to hang out.

Unfortunately, on Monday evening, it seemed like the only possibility. Before I went to bed, however, I decided to give it one last giant try. I went through every apartment in Rome listed on the site, which numbered ~250. I rejected some immediately for being too small or too far out, or being on the fifth floor with no elevator.

To every other prospect, I sent a short email asking about availability and stating what I was looking for. I was determined that if I had to accept an apartment I didn't really want, I could say that I had tried absolutely everything! I must have sent over one hundred emails out and it was only at 1:20am when I accidentally expanded the search area that I gave up and went to bed.

When I woke up this morning after sleeping for about four and a half hours, I checked the inbox for responses. There were quite a few. The way airbnb sets up your inbox sorted the emails into four basic categories. First were the emails that had not been answered. Second was a bunch that had declined my request, for lack of availability or some other reason.  The third group was from hosts who had responded to my questions.

Lastly, there were the golden tickets. These are responses that pre-approved my request. In other words, if I wanted any of these apartments, all I had to do was click a button and it was done. There were eight of these wonderful things! So now I had to sort all of this information to figure out the best place for my group to spend our time in Rome.

I started by looking at all the golden tickets and deciding which one I liked best. After that I had to sort through the answers to my questions and decide if any of those places were better than my favorite pre-approved flat. If they were, I would have to formally request to book their apartment and wait up to 24 hours for the hosts to respond.

It was not easy. Weighing price, sofa beds versus bedrooms, location, amount of steps, and just my own general feel from the photos and description. After some time, I decided my first pre-approved choice was the one.  So I pushed the button. And we had a place to stay in Rome. Sweet!

There's only one bedroom and I'll be sleeping on a sofa bed, but the living room is large.  It's not too expensive and is directly north of Vatican City. The building has an elevator and there are no additional steps.

I can't wait to get to Rome for the big saintly Papal party!

1 comment:

  1. I cannot believe you avoided Easter in Rome, only to hit John Paul II's canonization instead! That is going to be insane! I think you might have been really lucky to have found an apartment. Well done!