The site that might help you sleep with a psychopath

Airbedandbreakfast.com is a site that encourages people to host and to stay at ordinary people's houses when they're traveling.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

There is nothing like a good idea to get you out of bed in the morning. So here's one I just stumbled across that will help you get into bed at night. It's called Airbedandbreakfast.com.

The idea, created by Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, is a delightfully San Francisco affair. Apparently, Gebbia and Chesky noticed that there was a design conference in San Francisco and that all the hotels were full.

I don't exactly know how you notice that all the hotels in a city are full. Perhaps it's the stream of well-dressed people wearing conference name tags stopping you in the street and asking if you would make them breakfast.

Anyway, Gebbia and Chesky, being in full command of their faculties, decided to offer their abode to a few of the conference attendees who had been insufficiently conscious to book a room. I apologize. I mean, of course, to attendees who were so into their designer selves that they had omitted to arrange for designer hotels.

And so a business was born. As I understand it, you can offer your place up to strangers. Or you can go and sleep at strangers' houses--presumably, with the strangers sleeping there too.

This is what I fear in the middle of the night. CC IndependentMan

May I quote the site, while the Hitchcockian frissons subside a little on my six typing fingers?:

"You instantly meet new people instead of looking like a loner in the lobby bar. You'll probably get full access to a kitchen so you can make ramen with boiling water (instead of warm tap water). You just may make a new friend, and overall, you'll probably pay less."

Make ramen? Personally, I fear I would be making rather strange noises signifying an increased level of intestinal discomfort. Still, I did enjoy the idea that I would "probably" be paying less. Less than the Waldorf? Or less than Motel 6?

So what does this service cost? The site charges a 5 percent to 12 percent service fee at checkout. While the mustachioed woman with the angry dog and one-legged lover from Tucson gets 100 percent of the figure she thought of when she registered her attic on the site.

The site's FAQ is so lovably extraordinary that I read it at least three times. There is a section for potential single-night landlords. And there is a section for guests.

The last question in the guest section is: "My host was amazing! How can I leave feedback?" To which the answer is: "After your trip has concluded, you will be prompted by AB&B to leave guest/host feedback on each other's profile pages."

I am sitting here wishing there was one more question: How do I know my host doesn't dismember small animals with the use of a cocktail stick and an old Wham CD?

The only answers I can find on the site are under the "Tips" heading: "1. Use common sense. If a listing is missing data fields that are important to you (headshot, house images, or description) consider booking with other more complete listings, or message the host first to request they upload additional data."

But, digipeople, I represent real people here. Data doesn't solve everything. Really it doesn't.

The only other helpful hint appears to be: "2. Utilize onsite messaging. This feature allows you to contact the host before booking the room to ask questions, confirm availability, and educate yourself more about the listing."

I would very much like to hear from any reader in possession of such heightened common sense that he or she has used this service. Successfully or otherwise.

I have very few friends, as perhaps you might imagine. Even fewer who would invite me to sleep at their homes. And the idea of having people you can stay with in different cities is extremely enticing, especially if the hosts follow the site's recommendation and leave you O.J. and bagels in the fridge.

But where can one buy faith in other human beings, enough faith that will get one through the first night?

I just went on the site again and there was a picture of a very welcoming female face offering a $90 room in Santa Monica. It is all so commercially tempting.

Yet I keep seeing cocktail sticks. And Wham CDs. Can anyone help me here?