Airbnb Users In NYC Spend More Money When Traveling Than Others

Airbnb has been the subject of a recent spate of legal fire in New York City. The New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, subpoenaed the guest-hosting company recently for data on its 15,000 NYC users.

Airbnb refused to meet those demands in an attempt to protect its users’ private information.

According to Airbnb’s CEO Brain Chesky via the NY Post, tourists who stay in NYC through Airbnb, as opposed to more conventional accommodations, spend more money.

Airbnb’s whole argument these days is one based on three major points:
1. Airbnb isn’t a collection of hotels and the experiences involved are much more intimate
2. Airbnb helps struggling middle-class people stay afloat in a city of ever-increasing expenses
3. Airbnb guests are good for the economy

What do you think?

Empty New York Offices Could Be Turned Into Pop-Up Hotels

New York hopes to attract some 55 million annual tourists by 2015, the majority of whom are looking for cheap accommodations – something that’s not easy to find in one of the cities with the highest cost of living in the United States. But a Danish design firm called Pink Cloud hopes to turn vacant buildings into fun, design-friendly hotels by filling empty offices with temporary, made-to-order hotels.

Pink Cloud’s plan starts with a menu of components that would-be hoteliers can tailor to their specific vision. From hotel beds and workstations to art exhibitions and martini bars, everything will be neatly packed and sent to hotel sites in modular shipping containers. A color-coding system would make the pop-up hotels easy to set up, and there’s a potential that the hotels could all be marketed together.

Skift points out there are some problems that could put a snag in Pink Cloud’s plans: zoning is extremely strict in New York, as is getting a property up to code. But since New York tourists are likely to spend more time seeing the sites than holing up in hotels, the new plan could revolutionize tourism in the city if it gets off the ground.

Hayete: Beautiful Budget-Friendly Beirut Guesthouse

Hayete, a budget-friendly guesthouse in Beirut, is a rare bird: stylish, in a fantastic location, and relatively inexpensive.

Budget-minded travelers who also enjoy a bit of style are usually out of luck when it comes to accommodations. Budget-friendly options generally consist of hostels, folksy guesthouses, smarmy bed & breakfasts and budget hotel chains – all honorable and fine, but only rarely stylish.

There are very few super stylish rooms in in-demand cities with rates in the $100 per night territory. Boutique and art hotels charge several times this amount in most buzzing cities. Budget hunters usually have to rely on the occasional off-season rate dip to enjoy anything approaching boutique style.

Hayete, located in Beirut‘s exciting, intrigue-drenched Achrafieh neighborhood, provides an exception to the rule. The place looks and feels like the setting for a photo shoot in an underground European style magazine. It occupies an old classic building, built in the early 20th century, with original detailing intact. The tiled floor is particularly beautiful.

On the walls here are several huge photographs of color-saturated Russian landscapes by Liza Faktor. The design template is clever and very contemporary, capturing several impressions at once. There is the breezy feel of the carefree 1970s in several pieces alongside a fussy mid-century sitting room aesthetic, itself unsettled by contemporary upholstery. Throughout, there’s a strong sense of place.

The location is right in the thick of the Achrafieh action. Guests breakfast on a communal balcony that sits above a lively intersection, just beyond the main lounge’s enormous antique aviary with its live, singing inhabitants. From the balcony, guests can spy morning traffic extending through narrow streets, old mansions, and the noises and sights of construction and renovation projects. The Lebanese breakfast (labneh, pita bread, juice) provides a pleasant, if light, start to the day.

Hayete has just four rooms. Two, with shared bathrooms, run $105 per night for a double (or $75 for single occupancy.) Two en suite rooms start at $125 (or $95 for a single). The rate includes breakfast, tax, coffee and tea from a shared bar, Wi-Fi and use of a communal refrigerator.

These nightly rates are particularly impressive in light of Beirut’s hotel rate index, which is not generally easy on the wallet. While Hayete is not an extreme budget pick, its nightly rates put it in an all-too-slim category of reasonable, stylish hotels. For this alone it deserves to be championed.

[Images: Alex Robertson Textor]

Expedia Releases 2012’s Best Reviewed Hotels List

This week, Expedia released their findings for their 2012 Insiders’ Select rankings, an annual list put out based on more than 500,000 customer hotel reviews. Only 650 of the 150,000 Expedia properties are designated as Insiders’ Select hotels. Likewise, selected hotels are the ones that consistently offer competitive pricing, immaculate amenities and distinguished customer service.

Of the hotels found across 74 countries, there are 28% in North America, 25% in Europe, 3% in South America, 19% in Asia and 25% elsewhere. Moreover, there is an array of star ratings and accommodation styles. For example, 35% are luxury, 17% are sustainable, 11 are ski-friendly, 87 are for families and 116 provide beach settings.

The top 10 properties chosen for this year’s list include:

1. Marrol’s Boutique Hotel (5 Stars, Bratislava, Slovakia)
2. Hotel Al Codega (4 Stars, Venice, Italy)
3. Hotel Royal Corin (4 Stars, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica)
4. Hilton Garden Inn Aberdeen (4 Stars, Aberdeen, Scotland)
5. Four Seasons Miami (5 Stars, Miami, Florida)
6. Madison Hotel Hamburg (4.5 Stars, Hamburg/Hanover, Germany)
7. Element Omaha Midtown Crossing (3 Stars, Omaha, Nebraska)
8. Sonnenalp Resort Of Vail (4.5 Stars, Vail-Beaven Creek, Colorado)
9. Taj Lands’ End (5 Stars, Mumbai, India)
10. Mr. C Beverly Hills (5 Stars, Los Angeles, California)

Click here to see the full list.

Study Reveals Most Contaminated Surfaces In Hotel Rooms

You may never be able to relax in a hotel room again – not without a lot of antibacterial, anyway. A new study done by the University of Houston, with help from Purdue University and the University of South Carolina, looked into what surface areas in hotel rooms were most contaminated. Their hope was to identify “high-risk items,” to help hotels figure out where to spend the most time cleaning.

While certain obvious items made the list, like the bathroom sink and toilet, less apparent surfaces were also indicated, like the bedside lamp switch. The TV remote was the biggest culprit, while the bed’s headboard, the bathroom door handle and curtain rods were found to have the least amount of bacteria.

“Hoteliers have an obligation to provide their guests with a safe and secure environment,” explains Katie Kirsch, an undergraduate student at the University of Houston who presented the study. “Currently, housekeeping practices vary across brands and properties with little or no standardization industry wide.”

Apparently, the current method used to validate hotel room cleanliness is a simple visual assessment; however, this has been shown to be ineffective. Hopefully, this study will begin pushing hotels to up their sanitation efforts.

[image via counselman collection]