Southerner's Guide to Renting an Airbnb
Southern hospitality is not a myth. Cross over the Mason-Dixon, and suddenly you start to miss the little things like people assuming you want a lemon slice in your iced tea. And forget about anyone calling you pet names based on your perceived level of sweetness regardless of how much time you've spent together.
While our generous spirits are always on display at our region's historic hotels like Memphis' The Peabody or Little Rock's Capital Hotel (seriously, they tuck pecan brittle under your pillow), booking an Airbnb might be one of the best ways to see Southerners at their best. In fact, four out of the nation's 10 most hospitable cities for Airbnb are in the South. Surprisingly, nowhere in the northeast was mentioned. Anyway.
Here are five instances that I will almost always book with Airbnb when exploring the South, and you should too.
If you're trying to attend a massive event like the Kentucky Derby or Mardi Gras, hotels can be packed and the prices daunting. If you're planning far enough ahead (i.e. a few months), you can almost always find a whole house or apartment to rent for a much less panic-inducing rate. If you're in a major city, chances are having a home base outside of the downtown scrum can make getting back and forth less of a nightmare too. You'll also save on parking and valet fees if you can park your own car there.
If you're traveling solo or with one other person, it's definitely worth scouting the private room selections. In the case of Derby, I stayed with a couple in their Germantown bungalow (complete with backyard chickens and bees) along with another couple in the room next door to the adjoining bathroom. Introverts, I feel you, but most hosts realize you're on your own personal journey and will just as much leave you alone as they are to suggest a secret coffee joint gem. My hosts went one step further bringing coffee to my room every morning and leaving a bottle of Bulleit bourbon with chocolate next to me bed and my own cheese plate in the fridge. They even let me mail an emergency package to their house. Now that's getting lucky in Kentucky.
If you're trying to explore a rural area like the Delta or Cajun country, hotels or bed and breakfasts can be limited and inconveniently located. Airbnb allows you the opportunity to really immerse yourself in a place and even live like a local. Besides, wouldn't you rather stay in a historic building in downtown Clarksdale called The Squeezebox instead of another highway exit Hampton Inn again?
If you're looking to explore an up-and-coming neighborhood within a bigger city (i.e. The Fondren District in Jackson), you can find an Airbnb spot in that area. Oftentimes when I'm returning to a city I've been to before (and thus don't need to run all over town again), I'll plot out the points I want to see in one neighborhood on a custom Google map, then triangulate an Airbnb location that's within walking distance to as many of them as I can. Anytime you can limit the planes, trains, and automobiles quotient, the higher yield you'll get on relaxation. And isn't that what we all want anyway?
If you're adventurous and don't mind unconventional sleeping/hygienic arrangements, some of the country's more unique Airbnb experiences are located in the South. Just check out this treehouse you can stay at in Atlanta, this yurt in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this off-the-grid adobe dome underneath a Class One Dark Sky near Big Bend National Park, or this houseboat in Charleston.