Unique Accommodations: Yankee Ferry

Looking for unique accommodations in New York? How about a former Ellis Island ferryboat, re-imagined into a boho-glam five room “boatel.” Yankee Ferry is the brainchild of married artist couple Victoria and Richard Mackenzie-Childs, who renovated the ferry and now rent it by the room.

The ferry was originally put into operation in 1907 and has served, by turns, as a shuttle for the wealthy to Maine’s Calendar Islands, a WWI Navy vessel, and a ferryboat to Ellis Island, the Daily Mail reported.

The 16-bunk ferry technically has five bedrooms (but just one and one-half baths) and can be rented via Airbnb from $599 per night.

The stunning photos were captured by Navid Baraty (find him also on Facebook and Twitter) and depict a boho glam existence – complete with chickens roaming the deck.

Would you stay here?

Airbnb Nightmare: Prostitutes Use Apartment As Brothel

Airbnb is suffering another public relations nightmare this week after Swedish roommates returned home from a month-long vacation to find that their home had been raided by police after being used by the renters as a brothel.

Online magazine The Kernel reports that the women in question found used condoms, pubic hair, and a note from police apologizing for raiding their home.

It gets worse. The police, who had been tracking the women since their arrival, found the two renters – prostitutes – in fragrante delicto with clients.

The apartment owners told The Kernel that the women in question looked “high class, with business suits … it was strange that they would rent an apartment when they clearly could afford a hotel.”

Naturally, the owners also report feeling violated.

The Kernel reports that the owners were put up in one of Stockholm’s most expensive hotels while their apartment was professionally cleaned.

Airbnb issued the following statement to TechCrunch: “We were appalled to hear about this and we will work with local authorities to investigate the situation. We’re also providing ongoing support to the host. While this situation is being investigated, we can’t comment further.”

What do you think? Will this latest case of Airbnb debauchery make you leery to use the service again, or is this an isolated incident?

New Yorkers Fight Back Against Airbnb Renters

While many travelers enjoy the benefits of using budget-friendly vacation rental sites like Airbnb, residents of New York are growing angrier over the service. The main reason for the unhappiness is when people use sites like Airbnb, they are supporting a sharing economy, meaning the need to make purchases is eliminated and instead people share.

So, what’s the big deal? Sharing is caring, isn’t it? Maybe, but it also disrupts the current economic situation. Moreover, renters are able to get around many legal issues this way.

According to the New York Times, certain residents of Stuyvesant, New York, are angry about the leniency given to this new generation of renters, who seem to be able to do anything they please when it comes to renting. In fact, many are searching Airbnb and similar sites to try to find neighbors who are taking part to rat them out and raise complaints to officials. Certain issues upsetting them include excess noise, mess, bed bugs and the safety concerns that come along with having a complete stranger in the building. Additionally, many of those renting out their apartments aren’t legally allowed to be doing so.

A solution to this problem is still being figured out. For now, legislators and business bureaus are working with these companies to find a middle ground that will satisfy all parties.

What’s your opinion?

[Image via zoetnet]

Travel Smarter 2012: New hotel alternatives

While booking a hotel was once the standard when traveling, there are now a range of unique alternatives for every budget and preference. In 2012, it’s now possible to stay in anything from an eco-friendly tree house to a tent with more amenities than a 5-star hotel. Here are some modern takes on the classic accommodation based on traveler personality:

Luxury travelers who want to get in touch with nature

Camping no longer means you need to sleep in a vinyl bag and use the nearest tree as your personal toilet. Glamping, which takes the camping philosophy of being immersed in nature but makes it more luxurious, allows even the most high-maintenance travelers to “rough it” for a bit. For example, you can stay in an extravagant yet eco-friendly safari tent in Algarve, Portugal, that is surrounded by countryside and mountains and includes amenities like hot water, electricity, a pool, an onsite spa, a wellness center, and a garden where guests can pick and enjoy their own fresh vegetables. To view other glamping properties, you can click here for a roundup from Australia, Argentina, and India, or visit GoGlamping.net.Outdoorsy traveler who doesn’t want to get too wild

On the other hand, there may be some travelers who want to experience nature, but in a setting not too far out in the wild. For them there is garden camping, which offers the experience of camping in someone’s backyard. For example, for about $9, travelers can stay in Driftshane‘s backyard in Cornwall, England. Amenities include sea views and a neatly terraced ambiance, farm-to-table meals, and the use of the shower for an additional charge. There are also many points of interest nearby, including sailing, rowing, and beaches at Helford River, Seal Sanctuary, Glendurgan Gardens, Trebah Gardens, and Bosvathick Riding Stables. There are also ample opportunities to visit great restaurants and bars. By staying in someone’s garden, you’re still immersing yourself in the beauty of nature while also keeping yourself close to civilization. You can view more garden camping properties by clicking here.

Travelers who want a modern take on vacation rentals and apartment sublets

While checking apartment and home rental listings used to mean browsing plain text to look for a basic room or house, Airbnb brings a modern twist to the idea. First of all, owners can list their properties for free, including vibrant photos, a wealth of information, and contact data. Moreover, travelers can browse through listings while being able to search by location, price, amenities, neighborhoods, or accommodation style. They may also read reviews, look at maps, and take virtual tours. The site also has a social connections feature, which allows travelers to see which of their Facebook friends uses the site. What I personally love about Airbnb is the range of unique accommodation options, from a private room in a London lighthouse to a houseboat under the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

For Earth-concerned eco-travelers

Ecotourism is a hot topic in the travel world, and accommodations are catching on to the trend. First, there is World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), which allows travelers to exchange working on an organic farm for room and board. Some possible experiences include harvesting grapes on a vineyard in Mendoza to beekeeping in Italy or ranch work in Poland. Moreover, hotels and hostels are also jumping on board, implementing green practices to try to help the environment while also keeping guests comfortable. For example, backpackers can enjoy the Gyreum Ecolodge in Sligo, Ireland, a partially underground hostel and Installation Incubator where travelers can come together to brainstorm new ideas. Green amenities like water heated by solar panels, a toilet linked to outside compost, and the use of a wind turbine to power geothermal heating are included, as well as comfortable beds, thick comforters, and hearty breakfasts.

For travelers who want a local experience

With travel becoming more and more social, doing a homestay is now easier than ever. One way to participate in one is to sign up to volunteer abroad with an organization like International Volunteer Headquarters or by using a forum like SE7EN. Moreover, social websites like Couchsurfing and Tripping allow users to offer their couches to travelers. What’s great about these options is that participants can read reviews on hosts and guests, and even interact before their trips begin to see if they feel comfortable staying with the person.

[flickr image via left-hand]

10 of the world’s most unique vacation rentals

Imagine sleeping in the renovated fuselage of a vintage 727 airplane in Costa Rica. Or how about feeding giraffes over the breakfast table at a castle in Kenya? These one-of-a-kind lodging experiences, and others, are available through online vacation rental websites like Airbnb, and often for less than the cost of a shoebox room in a budget hotel in downtown Manhattan.

Take, for example, the following sampling of Airbnb’s unique vacation rental listings:
  • Boot and Breakfast (pictured at right). A childhood tale comes to life in Tasman, New Zealand. $225/night.
  • Romantic Igloo. Temperatures in Igloo Village Krvavec in Slovenia hover around 0-5 degrees Celsius – perfect for cuddling. $189/night.
  • Alone on your own Fiji Island. Really get away by booking the private Fijian island of Nanuku. $350/night.
  • Ecopod Boutique Retreat. A low-carbon pod designed in partnership with Zendrome, Berlin, in the woods of Appin, United Kingdom. $241/night.
  • Aircamp Furillen. A vintage Airstream on tiny Furillen Island in Sweden. $204/night.
Airbnb also groups their most notable listings into fun collections, like “Trees and Zzz’s” for treehouse lodgings, “Grape Expectations” for wine country accommodations and “I’m On A Boat” for, well, boats.

For 10 of Airbnb’s most unique vacation rentals, check out the gallery below.