It was cold, dark and we were lost in the Netherlands. Well, when I say lost, I mean a little off-track.
I was in Eindhoven, home of PSV, Philips and DAF Trucks, and being without a paper map and only the screenshots I’d taken from Google’s mapping service, it was slightly difficult to get our bearings.
The flight landed at about 15:30, and we’d arrived in the city centre roughly an hour later. The accommodation was booked through Airbnb and the host was out working until half six.
It wasn’t quite the luxury of dumping bags at a hotel, then being able to head straight back out to explore. Instead I trawled around a full backpack and mini suitcases trying to wind down the time until we would be able to gain access to the rooms we’d booked several weeks before.
But it was roughly quarter of an hour before that happened, our acquaintance with Eindhoven’s centre in the rear-view mirror, and there we were – me and the friend that travelled with me – just wanting to find warmth.
Then I came across the solution.
I tried the Maps app on my phone and for some obscure reason it worked – despite being in airplane mode. While I couldn’t get data or a mobile phone signal, the GPS worked fine and within a few minutes we were at our destination.
The street the house stands on wasn’t well-lit, and there was a bicycle outside, locked to the railing on the wall – a common sight on the Netherlands' streets. The crumpled blinds that blacked out the window at the front of the house were uninviting and even a little unnerving. But still, I knocked on the door.
In that moment, there were two passing thoughts. Either we were going to wake up in an ice bath missing some organs, or have a really good time. Fortunately, it was the second.
So when our host, a small, Asian man by the name of Quang, opened up, our fears were allayed and we headed inside.
Yes, we were 10 minutes early, but our rooms were still being prepared and so we headed into the living room where a comfortable couch was waiting.
It was an Asian household, so unsurprisingly there was rice being cooked in a rice maker, adding a distinct smell to the air.
There was also a small kitchen around the corner, which I got a peek at whilst the host was upstairs and I’m sure we would have been allowed to use it upon request.
Eventually, the rooms were ready, and so I did some more luggage lugging to get my things up the stairs before putting them down by the bed.
My room was just how it looked in the pictures. It was a simplistic layout with a bed, table, stool, bin, wardrobe and no ensuite. The bathroom was a shared one between guests and the hosts which could be seen as a negative for more private people, but it had all the necessary amenities needed for the stay.
Along with my room, there were two other guest rooms in the house. My mate, also called Tom, booked separately to me and was only able to get the double room, which was £66 – £20 more than what I paid for a single.
His room was bigger and came complete with a double bed, pop-up wardrobe and a kettle. Oh, and it was slightly closer to the bathroom, although I doubt that factors into the price whatsoever.
We eventually went on to find that the house was only a ten minute walk from the city centre, which made the two nights spent there good and convenient.
And the great thing about Airbnb was that there were plenty of options, even in a city like Eindhoven which isn’t especially popular with tourists. I chose the place I did as the host had good feedback and was great value at £22 per night.
Overall, it was a good stay. Fear of the unknown and having to share a bathroom with strangers are two obvious downsides. But if you can look past those things and take them on board as part of the experience, Airbnb is definitely worth considering.