Surprisingly, Carrie and I only recently stayed in our first Airbnb. Our first stay happened to be in the home of Airbnb, San Francisco. On a recent work/leisure trip to San Francisco, I had the chance to experience both accommodation options in the city-a hotel in Union Square, which I won’t name and an Airbnb in the Mission, which I will happily promote. The hotel experience absolutely horrified me, not only by the quality of the room but the cost for such an awful experience. My employer spent more than $300 a night for the cheapest option close to the convention center in an outdated, drab hotel with an awful smell. Additionally, the dining options were lousy in and around Union Square with most being touristy or chain restaurants. I had to leave the neighborhood to find good food and drinks.
Carrie joined me at the end of the work portion of my trip and after one night in the hotel together we moved to the Airbnb. We chose to stay in an Airbnb instead of another hotel primarily because we couldn’t find any good non-chain hotels within our price range in the city. Carrie, who went to university in the Bay area researched the Airbnb options and happened upon one of the best-reviewed properties in the Mission, called the Mission Cottage.
The cottage, located at the back of the owners’ (Autumn and Richie) house is beautifully designed and spacious. We were warmly greeted by our host, Autumn, and her friendly dog right after we settled in. Prior to our arrival Autumn emailed me the instructions to access the key and enter the property.
The cottage with a large bathroom, kitchen, sitting area, large bed, and skylights was the perfect space for our stay. I seriously can’t find one thing I didn’t like about the cottage itself. I will mention that you enter the property via an alley which at times has groups of homeless people camped out. It’s not an issue during the day, but as Autumn and Richie explained, we exercised caution when coming and going late at night. There is a sound machine in the cottage which was helpful in drowning out any noise coming from the alley.
The location of the cottage could not be better, half a block from Valencia and 16th Streets and two blocks from the BART Station (16th Street). The neighborhood offers a plethora of great places to eat and drink! Our favorite option for breakfast was Four Barrel Coffee. They have great coffee and the pastries are delicious. If you’re unsure Autumn and Richie have put together an overview of the dining options. Other neighborhood favorites were the original Philz Coffee, La Tacqueria, where I ate twice, and Foreign Cinema. More on those options in our guide to San Francisco.
Besides the great food scene, the Mission is also home to Mission Dolores Park and Clarion Alley. The Mission which happens to be San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood, is filled with colorful murals, of which many are located along Clarion Alley. The city’s culture of public art traces its roots to the grand tradition of Mexican muralism. The murals throughout the neighborhood feature the cultural heritage of the area or social-political statements. If you find yourself in the area and are interested in learning more there are several guiding walking tours available.
We loved our first Airbnb experience not only because we had an awesome place to stay, but because of the vibrant neighborhood and the affordability of the cottage. If you search on websites like Hotels.com you’ll see there are few hotels in the Mission. Most of them are near the touristy Union Square where you’ll pay a lot more and have a substandard experience as I did. Staying in the Mission in an Airbnb allowed us to not only explore one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods both day and night but also support local entrepreneurs, enriching our experience.
All photography by Albert Bond
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