6 cool Airbnbs
The Coloradoan

PHOENIX — The first call from our Airbnb host came a few hours after we landed in London in July.

The washing machine in the Notting Hill flat we reserved overflowed, she said, and mopping things up would delay our check-in by several hours. She offered to refund half the nightly rate, so we stashed our bags in our friend’s Airbnb rental and explored the city all afternoon.

The next bad news came via text just after dinnertime, when were soaked from the rain and dragging from too little sleep on the transatlantic flight. The problem couldn’t be fixed until the morning. We would have to find another place to stay that night, at her expense since Airbnb stays are prepaid.

The last-minute change wasn’t a vacation ruiner for my teenage son and me. We found a cute boutique hotel near our friend’s place and got to explore a new area before moving to Notting Hill for two nights in the flat.

More: Why you should take your children with you on vacation

More: How I vacationed like a tycoon on French Riviera on middle-class budget

But that snafu and a couple other Airbnb wrinkles — three of our four stays in Europe were booked through Airbnb and I stayed at an Airbnb in San Diego for a week in April — are a reminder that the global vacation-rental network founded in 2008 and taking the travel industry by storm isn’t for everyone.

I’m a fan, to be sure. I love the options, prices and locations; the lack of extra charges for things like Wi-Fi (where available); and the value. But I must admit it was nice to check into a hotel for the last three nights of our Europe trip, with a decadent free breakfast, unlimited towels and no dish washing or tidying up when we checked out.

Is Airbnb — which allows travelers to rent just a room or an entire house or condo from an individual owner — right for you? 

5 signs you’re ready to Airbnb

1. Vacation rentals are already part of your travel toolkit. Maybe you’ve used VRBO, Homeaway or other site to book a beach house or cabin in the mountains. That means you know the drill: You make your own beds, clean up after yourself, take out the trash and leave things how you found them so you…