I love spring; the fresh life that starts to color the world again renews me and wakes me up from winter rest. It also means time to pack the car, load the dogs and us into it and make our way out to St. Louis to visit our kids and grandchild. We stay at our Airbnb, Hummel House. Hummel House is a surprise and a gift to ourselves. Several years ago, when our daughter-in-law, Jessica suggested we consider purchasing a second home in St. Louis so we would have a place to stay with our “other kids” our dogs, Koko and Haje, I laughed. A second home? Who needs that, and what’s Airbnb? The following fall (2017) I attended a conference in Amsterdam with a friend and stayed at my first Airbnb. I fell in love with the concept and the practicality; staying in a home rather than a hotel was much more affordable. We were immersed in the city, the neighborhoods, walking to cafes, museums, I just felt like I belonged and was truly experiencing the flavor of Amsterdam.
Considering an Airbnb
Returning home, I now had an idea of what an Airbnb was about, and a positive experience. We received the happy news that our son and daughter-in-law were expecting; that also meant their house would be filling up and what with a new baby in the house, and a cat, my husband and I, and our dogs, would no longer be able to stay with them. I began researching homes and Airbnb offers in St. Louis. Spring of 2018 brought us out to St. Louis, without our dogs, to visit our kids. We stayed in an Airbnb residence just nine blocks from or kid’s home, walking to visit them everyday. Our “place” was a fully furnished bedroom, with a shared bath and kitchen in a private residence. The rate was very reasonable and made staying for ten days doable and within our budget. We talked with our host and picked her brain about the pros and cons of listing on Airbnb. We found a realtor and started looking at homes in the area, but nothing clicked, except our realtor-she’s a gem! Fortunately we learned a lot on this trip, and now my husband was ready to consider the possibility of buying a second home for us to stay in and then to offer on Airbnb when we weren’t in town.
Finding the one
Jessica and I became rather addicted to the realtor.com website; “what do you think of this one?” “too much work!” “nice, but too far away.” On and on it went, finally I said enough, I’m only going to check once a week on the weekends. Not one month later, on a bright Sunday morning, I found the home. My husband, rather exhausted with looking at home after home on-line, had to be persuaded to come to the computer. He liked what he saw. Everyone is familiar with the rest of the “home purchasing” story; it went quite well and soon we were owners of our “home away from home” in St. Louis.
Furnishing the new home
Months went by; our kids checked out the home, gave it a thumbs up. My husband traveled out to do any initial work and then in the fall of 2018 we packed the car and put ourselves and our dogs in the car for our first stay at Hummel House. I did all the things one does in creating a home, but with a little extra attention. A washer and dryer was essential for me, and for our future cleaning professional. Beds, mattresses, pillows, bedding! Furniture had to be sturdy, dishes likewise, enough towels and sheets to rotate through without having to wash and dry and reuse. In the end, we fully stocked the house, except for food items. Brooms (inside and outside brooms), a vacuum and one of my happiest purchases, a dust-buster! Yes, perfect or quick cleanups (me, following the trail of where my husband has been, and also for guests who might be inclined to use this little device when they’re not inclined to use a vacuum). Electric tea kettle, check; coffee maker (yes, other people really do like their coffee in the morning) check; pots, pan, baking pans, cookie sheets (a must for me) measuring cups and spoons, knives, scissors, cutting boards, you get the idea. It was an exhausting labor of love to fully furnish Hummel House, but so worth it! These are the things we like to have in our home, and by happy extension, our guests have indicated that they love how well stocked Hummel House is.
My husband returned to Hummel House a few weeks later to finish up on some work and that is when he found the Airbnb cleaning service TurnoverBnB and interviewed several vacation rental cleaners who specialize in Airbnb cleaning-that being a guest checks out and the new guest checks in a few hours later; who knew?! I hadn’t even thought of that yet. Thank heavens someone had, and created a whole site to manage it. What I love best is that TurnoverBnB’s site/professionals’ calendars can link directly to our Airbnb calendar. It’s all automated awesomeness! We live two states away and simply aren’t available to clean and check out the house before and after guests. It is, therefore, essential that we have someone who, while there turning over the house and cleaning, can check the house and grounds, letting us know of any concerns: i.e. pizza on the master bedroom wall and strange brown stains on the main bath shower curtain, front and back doors left wide open (it happened!).
Hummel House was ready, we had essential people lined up to help us maintain the home, but I was petrified when it came time to list on Airbnb. But, list it we did and we haven’t looked back. Hummel House has been booked every weekend since opening in December of 2018. Airbnb is super supportive; their website is one of the best I’ve ever found my way through, supporting their hosts and their guests amazingly well. We’ve had small things to attend to here and there, a dispute with a guest who belatedly realized he had only reserved from himself and not his wife and two kids, and when I fixed his reservation for him, at his request, he was not happy with the price increase. Airbnb moderated and in the end, he kept his reservation (where are you going to find a whole house for under $300 for four nights?). In this short time, I’ve learned to breathe, relax and enjoy. Being able to stay in our home, visit our kids and grandchild, see the sites of St. Louis and share our home with others in a safe and practical manner is so fulfilling. Simply connecting with others in this manner has expanded my sense of the world and life. Such a blessing. And so it is.