We all know AirBnB. And if we are not a hotel manager or a neighbour to a constant AirBnB apartment with loud tourists – we all love it. Why wouldn’t we? Even if we don’t use it, who doesn’t love having alternatives both for earning some quick money out from your place when you need it, while sleeping at your best mate’s couch for a few nights, and for staying in the city centre of the big capitals at a decent, student-friendly price. But I believe that there is more to it than just a way of renting the place. I travel around Europe quite a lot and lately I have noticed a fascinating switch in preferences of what we look at when we consider which hotel to choose – more and more often we are willing to pay not for luxury and comfort, but for originality, authenticity and creativity, and sometimes even for weirdness.
Now let me illustrate what I mean by giving a few examples of the most random accommodations I have lately encountered.
Places you would never tell your mum you slept
When I was visiting my friend in London in a bigger company, one couple decided to get some ‘let’s see the crazy side of London’-type of experience. AirBnB came with the rescue offering a night in a caravan, located in the shady suburbs, and owned by somebody who I cannot describe differently than a person at the edge of being an artist and having a compulsive hoarding disorder. They said they were really scared at some point. They also said it was just purely awesome.
My own personal dream at this very point and one more from the AirBnB offer – an apartment above the bookstore at Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town, with included invitation, or actually even an obligation, to run the bookshop while visiting: sell books, organise events, readings, parties. ‘So wait, you have to pay to work there?’ you’d ask. Yes, indeed.
Hotels that don’t really look like hotels
In Amsterdam itself, a pretty good example of a hotel turned into a playground for adults is the Volkshotel, which offers rooms looking like a small, erotic cinema, pretending to be a Japanese hot tub or mimicking a tent somewhere in the jungle. The very similar pattern, you can find at The Propellers Island City Lodge in Berlin, with rooms fully decorated by mirrors, turned upside down, shaped as a prison cell or allowing you to sleep in a coffin.
Dutch Harlingen offers a room located on a Crane, in Tokyo you can sleep in an old plane turned into a hotel, in capsules of the size of a wardrobe and in a place run almost fully by robots. Not even mentioning the obvious Japanese fads, as full Hello Kitty themed rooms. Sweden suggests a 2×2 cabin located in the middle of the lake, with land connection only by a floated canoe.
Let’s just ask ourselves the question: why?
Because this is not something that obvious and easy to explain. Why would anybody be willing to pay for working in a bookstore or spending a night in a prison cell, while instead she could just get a comfy, elegant, high-standard hotel room for even a lower price?
One answer could be the constant need to feel special, that the Millennials generation is constantly accused of. We are not happy with a simple good solution, we do not want what anybody can get and we are willing to pay to get something better, unique and impressing in the eyes of others. We expect constant appraisal, things to look good on Instagram and sound even better when told as a story.
Another reason could be the latest society’s consent for adults to enjoy things previously reserved for children. However as adults do not need to ask for consent or resources, their versions are always a version ‘plus’ – if a trampoline park for adults, then huge, if a summer camp designed for the grown-ups, then with definitely more attractions than a campfire. Then why sleepovers would be any different from that? We are adults, nobody will forbid us to go a little bit crazy and have fun, especially now when it is fashionable to do so.
We can keep guessing, coming up with psychologically and sociologically possible reasons, but the truth is that as with any other trend, we can never be sure where it came from. The bad news is that if we cannot answer the question ‘why?’ we cannot foresee if the trend will last. Well, the good news is that there is still an adventurous kid in many of us.