Staying With Newfound Friends, for a Fee-- AirBnB (W09) Featured in NYT

Williamsburg, BrooklynMatt Gross for The New York Times Anthony Ina, right, rents his spare bedroom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, through AirBnB.com.

In a quiet part of the neighborhood, close enough to late-night hot spots like Pete’s Candy Store but not overrun with foot traffic, I had a clean, bright room to myself in a newly renovated apartment, for which I paid a mere $75 a night. (Less, actually, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)

I found this great bargain through AirBnB.com, a Web site started in 2007 that connects budget travelers with locals who are offering anything from an air mattress in their living room to a private bedroom in a luxury loft — for a fee. It’s a cross between CouchSurfing.org and the vacation rentals section of Craigslist.

There are more than 900 AirBnB listings in New York. Indeed, the site’s strengths are in major cities — 247 listings in the Bay Area and 181 for Paris — but it spans 90 countries in all, so if you need an oceanview apartment in Rio de Janeiro ($170), a pied-à-terre in Shinjuku ($90) or a whole house in rural Ghana ($86), you’re in luck. Just sign up, build a short profile and contact the host with your dates. You pay AirBnB.com with a credit card or PayPal, with a 6 to 12 percent booking fee added on.

Compared with Craigslist, where the short-term rental and vacation listings can be misleading, lacking photos and frankly sketchy, AirBnB is easy and organized. (AirBnB.comwill even offer to send a professional photographer to shoot your apartment.) And compared with CouchSurfing, it at least appears more secure.

Amazing article!