Is Renting On Airbnb Cheaper Than Staying At A Hotel? A Graphic Comparison Of US Cities

Venturist, Flickr

Airbnb has become one of the go to sites for travelers looking for a more authentic experience while traveling. After all, if you are in a city for more than a few days, it’s certainly more comfortable to have your own kitchen and space for chilling out after hours of adventuring.

But it’s not just about having a cool place to stay. Renting from individuals on Airbnb is cost effective as well.

Pricenomics did an official breakdown of hotel vs Airbnb prices. Overall, you will save yourself about 21 percent if you rent an entire Airbnb apartment, and 49 percent for a single room. Of course, there are some places where your wallet will be happier opting for the hotel option than for a full apartment – Las Vegas and Houston, for example.

Often times full Airbnb apartments are around the same price as hotels, but pack them full of a few travel buddies and not only do you have a cheap place to stay but an instant travel party as well.

Check out the full findings and infographic here.

Via: Fast Company

London Bartender Makes World’s Oldest And Most Expensive Cocktail




World-renowned mixologist Salvatore Calabrese has recently broken the Guinness World Record for making the world’s most expensive cocktail, “Salvatore’s Legacy.”

The video above shows Calabrese creating the concoction in London at Salvatore at Playboy, using the world’s most expensive and oldest spirits. The total price of the drink is $8,830. Supposedly, the “world’s leading cocktail expert” had to get creative and modify his recipe after a customer dropped and smashed a $77,480 bottle of cognac.

Curious as to exactly what’s in it? According to The Atlantic Cities, the recipe calls for “40 mL of 1788 Clos de Griffier Champagne Cognac, 20 mL of 1770 Kümmel herbal liqueur, 20 mL of 1860 Dubb orange curacao and two dashes of Angostura Bitters, a combination that involves a collective 730 years.”

Check out the video above to see the lavish libation being made by Calabrese.

$7 Bottles of Water: Refreshing Or In Bad Taste?

expensive bottle of waterHave you ever been desperate enough to pay $7 for a bottle of water in a hotel room? I drink tap water in any country where it’s safe and stockpile store-bought water in countries like Mexico, where it isn’t, so I never really get caught needing to pay extortionate prices for bottled water or anything else from hotel minibars.

Last week, I stayed at the Marriott Fallsview Hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and, although I enjoyed my stay, I couldn’t help but wonder – who pays the $6.95 they charge for the bottles of Aquafina water they place in the room?

It wouldn’t be priced as such if no one were buying it, right?
Someone at Marriott who sits in a nice office with plush furniture must have decided that $6.95 – not $4.95 or $5.95 – was the optimal price for this item at this location.

Clearly people on expense accounts or the ultra rich might not balk at the price. And I’m not a “skip lunch because there are children starving in Africa” kind of guy, but with 40% of the world’s population living on less than $2 per day, I don’t think I could bring myself to engage in this sort of little extravagance – definitely not in a city where millions of gallons of water are literally gushing over Niagara Falls.

Welcome To Zurich, Home Of The $12 Big Mac Meal

zurichThere are no Dollar Stores in Zurich. But if there were, they’d probably offer single sticks of gum, paper clips or kernels of popcorn. In February, Zurich assumed the top spot in The Economist’s annual list of the world’s most expensive cities, knocking Tokyo off its perch, largely due to the strength of the Swiss Franc.

I’m a frugal traveler – the kind of person who prides himself on finding good deals, even in the most expensive places. So I viewed a recent three-day trip to Zurich as the ultimate challenge. If you can find bargains in Zurich, you deserve a Ph.D. in budget travel. And besides, I’ve always been smitten with Switzerland and the Swiss. It’s a country with four official languages and 37,000 miles of sign-posted hiking trails. It’s best known for neutrality, cheese, knives, watches, secretive banks, chocolate and Roger Federer.

I was up for the challenge but on my first day, when my toddlers requested – no, demanded – McDonald’s, it became painfully obvious that sticking to a budget in Zurich would be a challenge. My kids’ Happy Meals cost the equivalent of $9.15 each. Want a Big Mac value meal? $12.51. No joke.

After they ate, my wife and I repaired to a hole-in-the-wall fast-food Turkish restaurant the size of a broom closet. We ordered doner kebabs and two small bottles of water. The bill came to the equivalent of $28.34. The menu said that doners were 9 francs ($9.81), so I was confused.

“How much is the bottle of water?” I asked.
“Four francs,” said the Turkish proprietor.

In all my years of travel, I don’t believe I’ve ever paid $4.35 for a small bottle of water and I wasn’t about to start in a zero star take-away, so I asked for some tap water.”We don’t have any,” said the Turk, half apologetically.

We ate our doners with nothing to wash them down and left the place thirsty. I assumed that we’d be able to walk into a shop and pick up a bottle of water for a franc or two but soon realized that the entire city is full of what must be some of the world’s most expensive bottled water.

expensive bottled waterI passed a vending machine that was also charging 4 francs, and checked the menus of various other fast food outlets, and all were charging about the same. I found a kiosk that was selling water and cokes for 3 francs, ($3.27) but still couldn’t pull the trigger. I’d read somewhere that the supermarket Migros’s takeaway outlets are a great place for bargain meals, so I ducked into one to check their price. A small, cold bottle cost $3.81 and mediocre looking slices of pizza were going for $7.07. No sale. In the basement supermarket, liter sized bottles at room temperature cost less than a franc.

In no other city in the world have I spent more time comparison-shopping for water but I couldn’t help but record all kinds of pricey offerings in my little notebook.

Here are a few examples:

  • Large cheese pizza in a sit-down Italian restaurant – $41.36
  • “Special” burger at a brasserie in the Old Town – $24.49
  • Club sandwich at a casual restaurant – $23.95
  • Plate of spaghetti in the cafeteria of the Zurich Zoo – $16.11
  • A cup, not a pot of tea in a café – $5.44

How do the good people of Zurich afford these prices? The monthly minimum wage is about $3,488, and most make much more than that. The Swiss are also careful with their money and aren’t prone to impetuous behavior of any kind. Case in point: they recently voted against giving themselves an additional two weeks of vacation time per year.

Expensive food and drink is really just the tip of the iceberg in Zurich. Take a stroll down Banhofstrasse, the city’s most elegant shopping thoroughfare, if you really want to get a taste of moneyed Zurich. There, and all over the city, one cannot help but notice how well put together the residents of Zurich are. In my neighborhood in Northern Virginia, I often see adults shopping in pajama pants, but in Zurich, everyone looks like they just stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine.

zurich shopping  pradaI did some window-shopping at Louis Vuitton, Prada, Cartier, Bvlgari and Salvatore Ferragamo, all the while working up the courage to actually enter one of these temples of consumerism with my two young sons in tow. I took a few steps into an Ermenegildo Zenga store and immediately felt unwelcome.

Feeling as though security was about to press a button to release us down into an underground dungeon, I asked a lovely young sales associate, who accosted us, how much a suit in the window cost. She gave me a half-smile and a sort of pitying look, as if to say, ‘There is no chance you can afford it.’

She checked the price, nonetheless, and said, “It’s two thousand, four hundred and fifty francs.” (A bit more than the annual per-capita GDP of The Philippines.)

“Is that all?” I wanted to say, but thought better of it, as sarcasm doesn’t usually play that well across linguistic and cultural lines, particularly in absurdly high-end shops.

“Will it go on sale?” I blurted out, feeling ridiculous but wanting to save face somehow as we backed out the door.

“On sale?” she asked, as though she was unfamiliar with the term, despite her apparent fluency in English.

“Never mind,” I said before we slinked out.

But of course, people have been bitching about the high cost of living in Zurich for a very long time, even well before the surge of the franc. James Joyce, the legendary Irish writer lived in Zurich for years, and is buried there (see video) and he apparently felt that his monthly rent of 40 francs in 1916 was highway robbery.

Joyce wrote Ulysses in Zurich but was constantly short on cash, and lived in a variety of very ordinary apartments, including one that Mrs. Joyce claimed was infested with mice. These days, 40 francs barely buys you a pizza and struggling writers, as Joyce was during his early years in Zurich, still have plenty to complain about.

Tomorrow: Part 2: Zurich on a Dime: Budget Travel Tips for the World’s Most Expensive City.

[All photos by Dave Seminara]

Photo of the day (11.4.10)


How’s this for a pool with a view? Flickr user and friend-of-Gadling Paul Brady took in this scene in Singapore from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, one of the world’s most expensive new hotels. We’ve seen professional shots of the pool before, but we always like seeing an untouched, real life shot. Imagine having a dip here on a hazy day, and when the clouds disappear: BAM! The whole city is in front of you. The 650-foot wide infinity pool is on the 55th floor, making it the highest outdoor pool in the world. The pool is just open to hotel guests, but anyone can buy a ticket to the SkyPark and take in the vista from the observation platform.

Take any pictures of amazing city views on your travels, from a pool or otherwise? Upload them to the Gadling Flickr group and we might just use one for our next Photo of the Day.