New York City anxieties require frequent getaways in the summertime, if one is to maintain sanity and a livable body temperature. But navigating where to go, exactly – and more importantly where to stay – can be a tricky business, since unlike LA, NYC is not surrounded by a thoroughly developed tourism infrastructure.
But we’ve been loving the Catskills – just two hours north of the city – in both winter and summer, for skiing, hiking, staring in awe at the mountain views, and even the occasional literary festival. So we consulted with the experts at Airbnb to tap into some of their favorite listings in the region, for a long-weekend restoration session. Concierge not included.
$800 per night. This gorgeously decorated, renovated Victorian is just ten minutes from the Hudson and a short distance from the town of Catskill, in the mountains. It fits ten guests, with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms.
$350/ night. This obviously very unusual residence fits 16+ guests. Located in the rural community of Woodridge in the southern Catskills, the Geo Dome is a great place for those who love camping, hiking, swimming…and sci-fi.
I have a friend. (By no means is it me.) My friend goes by the name Sharmon Sleon. When Sharmon travels out of the country, he usually rents his apartment on Airbnb. (Most often to someone from Germany or Sweden.) Without Airbnb, Sharmon (again, this is not me) wouldn’t be able to travel to foreign countries for fun and pleasure. Thank god for the reverend saint of apartment renting, Airbnb. But dark clouds are on the accommodation horizon. New York City has waged war against Airbnb. The city claims that the startup is driving business away from the over-priced NY hotel industry:
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman just slapped the company with a subpoena to hand over the user data of all New Yorkers who’ve listed their apartment on the site, the New York Daily News reported today. That’s about 225,000 users.
Somber news for visitors to New York who hate the hotel experience: Airbnb, a service by which a tenant not using their apartment for a few days can rent it out to another party, has run afoulof the “illegal hotel” law. That’s the one that forbids you to run a rogue bed-and-breakfast out of your closet, or, I guess, in any way profit from the space you are renting for residential purposes.
But wait. That only applies to short-term stays, for some reason? As in, Airbnb would theoretically only be an illegal renting system if it was used to arrange a stay of fewer than 29 days. Anything more than that—stay with us here—would essentially be subletting. So maybe the solution is to take longer vacations. Outside of that, it’s going to become quite difficult to borrow a stranger’s bedroom.
It’s not entirely clear whom the judge is protecting with this ruling, sparked by a complaint from the New York City Department of Buildings, but I suppose Airbnb guests could be less likely to behave themselves if they don’t have to stay in the same place for a month. Back to Holiday Inn with you! They’re much more forgiving about stealing the towels, at least.
Helen DeWitt, author of The Last Samurai and, more recently, the ripping good American satire Lightning Rods, is subletting her gorgeous, sunny Berlin apartment—complete with a collection of over 3000 books, it seems! Who wouldn’t want to paw through that? Seeing as DeWitt is famous for her lengthy, well-considered and thoroughly entertaining comments on a variety of literature blogs, the answer should be: no one.
For just $1411 a month (whoa, I’d be saving money), and a minimum stay of 30 days, all this can be yours:
84 meter square apartment with parquet wood floors, high ceilings with baroque plaster moldings, sofa-futon & single bed, upright piano, large desk, dining table, WiFi, free local calls; large kitchen with roomy fridge, washing machine.
And it’s even within walking distance of Möckernbrücke, whatever that is! So what do you say, can we go? I’ll play the piano for you, though there’s a historic jazz café around the corner when you get sick of that. Then we can eat knockwurst and go clubbing. It’s going to be so cool.