For our last two nights in the Bay Area we chose to stay in West Oakland, just across the Bay from the Embarcadero area with the Jack London Square ferry being a reasonable walk away. Having never used AirBnB we decided to give it a shot as the rates were quite a bit more reasonable than the hotels in the area and we'd heard positive things from people who had used the site. There were a lot of places to choose from but we decided to stay with Jackie and Christian in their lovely home. It takes a special kind of individual to open their own abodes and welcome travelers into their space and our hosts were exceptionally kind. They know the area quite well as proud residents and provide maps, guides, or advice. They graciously offer the use of their kitchen and laundry facilities, so if you're traveling for a long stint it's quite refreshing to have the option to prepare a home cooked meal or some freshly laundered clothes.
For the record, their home is awesome! Original art from local artists adorn the walls, as well as a plethora of dinosaurs hidden amongst the decor. I don't know about you, but it makes me really happy any time there's dinosaurs in unexpected places (like this goofy Japanese hotel's dinosaur robot receptionist).
Double Godzillas kept our room safe.
Spawn's got this room covered.
A stuffed t-rex hides behind the orchids.
Jackie is a gardener and has some lovely plants, from fennel to purslane and more. Antho got to try fennel for the first time! :)
We evicted these guys from the garden. From here they gradually made their way up the street light.
For what purposes? Heading towards the light? Hmm.
We spent two nights and three days with Jackie and Christian and it was lovely. Our first day in town we scoped out Oakland's own little Chinatown, which I felt was actually more authentic in some aspects than San Francisco's and it was only a short (mostly level) walk away. Given how close they actually are to the water, we were able to walk to the ferry and ride across the bay to Pier 41 with stunning views of the city the whole way. Berkley was an easy day trip to make and San Francisco is still just a short BART ride away so everything we wanted to do was readily accessible and relatively affordable via mass transit. On our second night there we were quite wiped out after all the walking we'd been doing and they didn't mind our lounging around in their guest room downstairs. We never felt like we were terribly imposing upon them, and even when there were other guests it never felt too crowded or awkward. We even ordered a pizza, which is a novelty for me while traveling. Do you order pizza to hotel rooms? I've certainly never tried. :P
For anyone who's never given AirBnB a try, I definitely suggest it!
The site makes it easy to contact and communicate with your hosts, so you should be able to get a feel for the environment and the kind of people you'll be staying with before either of you commit to the booking. I saw all sorts of options available; one lady had a tent, there was a community garden with chickens and a guest room, even a zebra-print couch that was on offer. Use your judgement along with your budget guidelines to find a place that appeals to you!
We're glad we did. :)
Staying with Jackie and Christian felt more like we were staying with old friends than crashing someone's couch. It was really nice.
Thanks again guys!