Q: What made you decide to become a host?
A: I couldn’t ever imagine a having a home where the doors weren’t open. It feels natural and I get joy from it. We’re born and made for community and I love having people coming and going. Airbnb has brought me short-term guests to occupy a spare room. It has confirmed my love of connecting people with brilliant things and giving people an extraordinary, restful experience and new experience while they’re here too. I always want my home to be a place where people can rest, share, work, be curious, play and create if they want. I can imagine I’ll be hosting a few creatives throughout 2017, too.
Opening my doors is a healthy thing I can do as a human. Whilst I get to meet and connect with a new global family and friends, exchange and share culture, knowledge and space whilst supporting the work I love every day. Simple.
Q: How do you become a host?
A: Decide if it’s going to suit your lifestyle and your tribe first. Own a home, hoover your spare room, take some photos of your house on a sunny day and jump online. The [Airbnb] website is easy to navigate. Make your space visible and simply have a conversation – you only offer what you want and what suits you, so guests know what to expect.
Honesty’s a good game to play.
Q: Is it an easy process?
A: As easy as you want to make it. The website is on your side. It just takes a little bit of time, good communication and preparation, you can choose the how, the when and the who. I find it easy and it suits my life at different times, but I understand how it’s not for everyone.
Q: Is it safe?
A: Yes. It comes with a simplicity that massively overrides any imagined or real risk. Reviews, ID checks and conversation are there to give you confidence in your visitors. If you don’t want someone, you can say no. I’ve experienced that. But overall, it’s been brilliant and curious and easy and lovely and really refreshing.
Q: Is there a social aspect to hosting?
A: My guests have all been good people. They’ve sewn up holes in my gloves, cooked for me, taken bins out and left me gifts - so it’s working so far! I’m still in touch with several people and made great friends. We have exchanged and shared stories, books, food, work, practical help, music and culture. I once gave someone a job through it, met new collaborators and have been offered places to stay and work abroad. And sometimes, we won't even see each other.
Q: Who comes to stay?
A: My guests over the past year have included: A Sea of Hull participant on a last-minute whim to strip and paint herself blue; a pilot from new Zealand on training; a famous children’s author on tour; a postgraduate from the European Capital of Culture 2017, Aarhus, Denmark, who was finishing a thesis at the University of Hull; An art gallery Curator working for City of Culture, a few actors; a musician; a photographer; and a journalist who was curious about the fish and chips here...
Q: Do you also visit other people’s homes?
A: Yes. I love staying in real places with real people when I travel.
Q: What’s the best thing about welcoming people into your home?
A: The new people. It’s an exchange. I find it fascinating and energising. There are no ties, you make your own rules and choose when you need the rooms when I have family and friends staying. It’s great to occasionally come home to different, interesting, adventurous, positive and real people. I know Hull inside out. So it’s a pleasure to help people experience something new and extraordinary here. That might be as simple as recommendations for things to do and places to go, or local knowledge about where to get secret scrambled eggs or catch a rooftop gig.
Q: And the worst?
A: I’ve really not had any bad experiences. I was once woken up super early. But I got over it. I once locked someone out by leaving my keys in the door. They got over it, too. People might be anxious about strangers or simply the imagined impractical peril of popping a weekend’s comfort bubble.
Q: Do you think there’s a benefit to the wider community?
A: On so many levels. Living in more expansive, open, cooperative ways, including sharing space with new people at home, benefits everyone. I’d recommend everyone to try it at some stage in life. It’s a really humbling and life-enriching thing to do. I've learnt loads. It’s something that grants people freedom and independence while doing it in a community. Those things should be encouraged, supported and nurtured well. Not sharing our stuff, lives and space is expensive, unhealthy, damaging, boring and settling for less. All visitors take their experiences and new knowledge and stories home with them. They might even come back! They might tell the world. The potential to embrace that opportunity for Hull is huge.
Q: And finally … any top tips for others thinking of welcoming guests into their homes in 2017?
A: Be practical.
Always have good proper coffee in.
Your fridge can never be too big.
Stock up on coathangers and blankets
Consider what you like and need when you arrive in a new place. What would you like to walk into?
Throw a party.
Tell your neighbours.
Invest in a good cooking pot.
If you rent, you need to check and ask permission from your agent or landlord.
Anyone’s experience in your home is unique to you and them – you make it what it is. So just, so just be you, there's no other way of doing it.