Now that we’ve stayed in LOTS of apartments, we know what we like

Based on our very small, unscientific and highly subjective study, we’ve concluded that Washington DC has the best beds

(Please bear in mind that we’re home-comforts-loving, unadventurous adventurers. So in this post I won’t be talking about running water or a roof over our heads – things like that are a given in our world.)

Since March this year, we’ve lived in TWELVE consecutive Airbnb apartments – mostly in the USA, but also now in the UK.

And to use that wanky, overused phrase, we’ve learnt a lot about ourselves. Yes, probably a lot of deep and meaningful stuff, but all that guff bores the hell out of me so I’ll leave it to other travellers who have more of a knack for it.

Instead I’m going to tell you what we’ve learnt about our apartment preferences – because living in 12 of them within seven months has given us a whole lot of insight.

Here goes…

A regular-sized pillow

Our apartment in Williamsburg was AMAZING. The building had a doorman, an elevator, a gym and a roof terrace. The apartment had a fridge so big that I actually did a workout when I opened it. There was a TV that rendered trips to the movies pointless, bar stools for when we wanted to feel like classy grown-ups, and a pasta maker for staring at and pretending we might use one day. Oh, and if you looked out the window you could see people running around the track in McCarren Park, and the Empire State Building in the distance.

But Rob spent our week there in a grump. He didn’t get enough sleep because, in his words: “The fucking massive pillow took over my life every single cocking night.” And while this reaction was over the top, unnecessarily harsh and made no sense, it did highlight the importance of a decent pillow for a person’s day-to-day coherence, amiability and sense of perspective.

To be fair to our hosts, we had a heck of a lot of pillows to choose from (yep: the bed had been gentrified by a girlfriend). Unfortunately, all seemed intended for people with really heavy heads.

A firm mattress

Continuing on the bed theme. (We use ours as workspaces as well as sleeping places, so we spend a lot of time in them.)

We’re shocked by the realisation that we like a firm mattress! Who knew we’d be firm mattress types? But we really are, and it really kinda matters.

These days, our check-in routine is as follows:

  1. Spend about three hours trying to get into the damn place. (Someone please explain to us why New York locks are so weird.)
  2. Take pictures of the apartment to show my mum.
  3. Check the wifi works.
  4. Sit down, then lie down, then sit again, on the bed.

A kettle












We’ve said this before. Many times. And we’re still not embarrassed to say it again. We need a kettle because we’re English and we like tea. Many of our NYC apartments didn’t have kettles, so we travelled with the only electrical one we could buy cheaply in Manhattan: a full-size, slow-as-as-a-coach monstrosity from Kmart. We adored it.

A microwave

OK, this one really is embarrassing, because we actually travelled around with one of these too (we’d put it in storage if we flew anywhere). The thing is, sometimes we got sick of ramen. And sometimes we needed to give our tea a bit of a re-heat (waiting for the kettle to reboil would make us late for something). And sometimes we wanted to re-heat leftovers.

Microwave = deliciously random meals of leftovers

And often, the apartments where we stayed didn’t have microwaves.

The problem with microwaves in New York? Don’t try reheating your pizza while watching TV/drying your hair/using the kettle: it’ll cause the lights to flicker and a fuse to blow – a fuse that’s located somewhere secret/inaccessible.


Although I said at the beginning that we treat running water and a roof as givens, we treat wifi in the same way. We need wifi for our work (and yes, for Googling things like “prince harry tmz naked vegas” while watching the news). I’m pretty certain that if such an unusual ultimatum ever came up, we’d choose wifi over running water.

Air conditioning (if the weather’s hot)

While in NYC we only ever chose Airbnb apartments that had air conditioning because we were there over the summer. Now we’ve stayed in so many of them, we also have thoughts about the type of air conditioning we prefer. Allow me to share:

  • We’ll politely thank whoever created units that rattle like they’re about to break (better than nothing).
  • We’ll shake hands with the person who created quiet units.
  • We’ll high-five the genius who gave us remote controls.
  • We’ll have a threesome with the wondergod who invented air conditioning that comes through vents in the floor.

Storage space

As you can tell from the above, we don’t travel light. As it happens, we don’t actually have that many clothes (see Rob’s post about what’s in our suitcases). Nevertheless, we’d ideally like somewhere to keep them – especially if we’re staying there for more than a couple of weeks.

We totally get that with Airbnb, we’re often staying in someone’s home and therefore the wardrobe will be full of their clothes. But all they need to do is provide us with a plastic office roller-drawer unit – which can easily be shoved away when there aren’t guests.

Here’s where we’ve put our clothes in some recent apartments:

  • In kitchen cupboards, on top of the muffin trays
  • Under the bath (it was one of those posh-legged baths)
  • On the windowsill
  • Under the coffee table
  • On bookshelves… on top of all the books
Amazingly, this weeny apartment In Astoria (Queens) was one of the few places with storage space

So there you have it: a list of the things we like to have when we stay in Airbnb apartments. It might not have come across just how much we ADORE our stays, and our utterly amazing all our hosts have been. So amazing, in fact, that we’re interviewing them all to find out their hints and tips for other hosts.

And of course we understand that hosts can’t provide everything for everyone (hence the kettle and microwave we carry around with us). So please take this as a simple list of the thing we’d ideally love to have in each apartment, in an ideal world.

What are your must-haves when it comes to staying in apartments? Let us know in the comments!