I like to think that when it comes to accommodation, I am game to try most options. The type of stay that speaks out to me during my travels is one that features style and charm, convenience of location and that innate homely quality. That may be a cosy B&B near the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it might be an all-inclusive, adults only, beach front resort in Cuba ideal for couples wanting to escape that creche vibe; it might be a chic Budapest boutique or a luxurious private pool villa in Bali; it might be a 5 star club room oozing glamour in Abu Dhabi, a tranquil countryside cottage weekend with friends or even a romantic honeymoon safari tent in the middle of the wilderness in Africa.
One thing it has never been, however, is an Airbnb property – until now that is – but on our recent visit to Croatia, Pumpkin and I decided it was time that changed. In fact, we made a real fruit punch of the accommodation in Croatia throwing in one Airbnb in Hvar, one actual B&B and one boutique hotel all into our into our six day trip.
It dawned on us that on many occasions, particularly those with intensely concentrated itineraries, we often end up forking out for hotels that we only really wake up and fall asleep in. It’s one thing etching into those hard earned paychecks when you actually need or want the concierge, the room service, the spa, the in-room treats and the squilions of TV channels. ( In this paradise hotel in the Seychelles, for example, room service and a fully kitted out room were just what the doctor ordered when I had heatstroke.)
But is it worth spending £300 a night if all you’re using is the bed and the basin? Each to their own but that’s not my cuppa – I’d rather use that cash to book myself another flight (obvs!)
And so, after flirting with the Airbnb idea for a little while now, we were finally tempted to test it out for ourselves.
The reviews we had read about people’s experiences were a mixed bag and I am certainly under no illusion that it’s smooth sailing every time but that is true even with hotels and after reading about the warm, hospitable and positive experiences that both Emily (Cosy Traveller) and Emily (Grown Up Gap Year) had with their Airbnb stays recently, I was sold.
A Perfect Studio Apartment Stay in Hvar Old Town
True to his archetypal efficiency, Pumpkin wasted no time in registering on the Airbnb site, where users as well as hosts are required to upload photos to help with recognition e.g. for when you meet to collect keys. Whilst browsing properties, we came across Tomislava’s very well reviewed one bedroom Airbnb studio apartment in Hvar, which is slap bang in the centre of Hvar old town. And when I say centre, I literally mean a two minute walk away from the main square so this is gold dust in terms of location in Hvar.
After we booked, Tomislava emailed us easy and clear instructions about where and when to meet her and she was waiting for us as promised when we arrived, assisted by a friend who helped with translation. They gave us a really helpful introduction with information about visiting the nearby Pakleni islands, where to find the beaches on Hvar island itself, maps of the local area, how to get water taxis, restaurant and bar recommendations as well as the more mundane but essential soundbites about the apartment itself, such as how to change the temperature controls and lock the doors.
She had kept a large bottle of water in the fridge for us, some cereal and muesli for breakfast, a variety of coffee and hot chocolate sachets, a large pack of nuts to snack on and had left us a box of chocolates and biscuits as a welcome treat.
The kitchen was fully equipped had we wanted to start getting creative with our culinary skills (or lack thereof) but the only cooking I have ever undertaken on my travels has required
rather a lot of supervision by professional chefs such as this cooking class in Ubud.
Our bed was made with crisp contours, a neatly folded throw and a bag of local Croatian lavender perched on the midline. She had thought of everything with the provision of beach towels and beach mats that we could (and indeed did) use when exploring the many pristine coastal areas on the island.
We made it to two of the restaurants that they recommended when I had asked for suggestions, both of which served quite contrasting but outstanding cuisine.
Despite being so close to the main square of the old town in Hvar, the street that the apartment itself was on was peacefully tucked up a staircase with no disturbance overnight. We had been told about the nearest supermarket, which was on the main square itself and we had already sniffed out a couple of nearby bakeries and cafes that we had earmarked for breakfast the following morning.
After getting dressed and heading out the next day, hungry but eager to venture to the turquoise beaches, we opened our front door to find a plastic bag dangling from the handle, swollen with the weight of two enormous croissants inside that Tomislava had left for our breakfast, totally unexpectedly.
We couldn’t believe just how kind and thoughtful a gesture this was and as we walked along the marina in Hvar, we bit into the croissants, their chocolate core melting into the flaky pastry under the morning sunshine.
On our final day in Hvar, Tomislava came to meet us to collect the keys at a time of our choosing. As we thanked her, she once again reconfirmed what had become easily apparent by now, reiterating her hospitality and generosity of spirit when she gave us a parting gift of a small bag of lavender and a local souvenir attached to a hand painted card she had made, depicting Hvar and flush with summer colours.
My Airbnb First Experience Verdict
As our host on this occasion, I suspect Tomislava has set the bar rather high for future Airbnb stays but we were so grateful we opted for this apartment, where a 3 night stay would have been the same price as a one night stay in the nearby Hvar hotels. In truth, I had wrongly imagined that Airbnb would be an option I would select if I couldn’t find a suitable hotel but an experience like this has left me with the distinct belief that for at least some of the trips that we take, we could actually see ourselves selecting Airbnb apartments in preference to hotels.
Have you stayed in an Airbnb property before? I’d love to hear your verdict and experiences.