Sunday, October 01, 2017

My First Airbnb Experience @ Furano [Hokkaido, Japan]

I was contemplating the tone i should set to talk about my virgin experience staying in an airbnb at Hokkaido and thought it's better to start with the conclusion: "I hate it!"

Now that it's out of my mouth, let me clarify that the problem might be myself as our two seasoned travel mates didn't see a problem whereas pampered me appeared to have been too accustomed to hotel accommodations all this while.

As you are probably aware, airbnb is homestay for travellers and would do well for people looking for a place with kitchen and feels like, well, home. Before my trip, i was already notified that i have to bring my own towel which honestly wasn't too much of a problem; i could take an old towel and then discard it the next day.

However, it was more than just the towel and i could easily blame my inexperience with airbnb. For one, check-in was at 4 pm and check-out was at 10 am. No friendly receptionist to answer your millions of questions and in my case, no lift to bring you to the second floor where the rooms were and the staircase was narrow and steep

Official floor plan for the second floor with four bedrooms; in total housing more than ten guests. Not exactly a conducive environment if all the bedrooms were to be taken. Why did i say so? To be continued in the next paragraph.

There's only one bathroom! Yes, only one bathroom and coming from a hot and humid country, we tend to have baths / showers twice a day and it didn't help that summer in Hokkaido can be pretty hot in the daytime. To minimize conflicts, the arrangement was to write down our preferred timings for showers / baths on a clipboard and every guest had to adhere to the self-imposed schedule. 

I am so grateful that it wasn't full house for that one night stay at the airbnb and it's not the same situation for the toilets and the wash-up areas; there were a total of two toilet bowls and three vanity sinks. 

Two vanity sinks and one toilet bowl was on the second floor (yes, technically to be shared among the more than ten of us in full airbnb capacity should anyone be too chicken to go down to the ground floor at night). 

Next issue - there was supposed to be a heater mechanism for the water and we couldn't get it to run warm / hot water! Unlike a hotel where you can dial 0 for receptionist, there's no such option in an airbnb. However, we have the contact number of the host and it's still just a phone call away.

Turned out we just need to punch the knob shown in the photograph before the above and the gas would heat up the fire to warm your water! Interesting yet frightening at the same time.

My mouth and face can do without heated water to brush my teeth and wash my face but my body can't survive with showering in cold water, especially when Hokkaido's nights can still be chilly in summer! A phone call this time to the host didn't help and we had no choice but to wait for him to return from his work before we lined up to shower. 

Have you slept in a Japanese futon before? It's my first time and i frankly didn't know what to make of the folded mattress with blanket and pillow. 

I am accustomed to sleeping on a seahorse folded mattress back at my parents' place and it didn't take me long to unfurl the items for a badly needed sleep. Pillow was too soft for my liking too and i woke up the next morning with a bad neck-ache. 

Unlike a hotel, you have to make your own bed in an air-bnb; so go ahead and fold up that futon nicely! According to our travel mates, the host can review the guests as well and most guests would do their best to tidy up the house before they leave! To be truthful, i will gladly pay the differential for a hotel so that i can leave the tidying to the housekeepers and give myself more time to explore the country. 

Having ranted about the bad things, let's now talk about the advantages in staying at this airbnb; it's a typical Japanese dwelling with tatami mats and sliding wooden doors. No locks by the way.

You can squeeze in a number of guests with futons and you can't fight the price advantage that airbnb often have over hotels; i heard it's typically the fact in Japan where hotels can be insanely expensive in areas like Furano. 

Don't you just love the Japanese style ceiling light with a hanging power cord? 

The common living cum kitchen area (where the sole bathroom was located) was decently sized with seats available for more than ten persons to TV together! p.s. no provision of television in the room, which wasn't an issue for me. 

Samurai swords on display! 

You can basically cook your own meal if you want (and dare in case it's as difficult to operate the stove as it was with the water heater) and this kind of reminded me of my accommodation in Jeju; Galeum Guesthouse where my sister made french toast for breakfast! 

Bowls, plates, mugs and cutlery were placed in this wooden cabinet. 

Do remember to separate your rubbish according to what's labelled; it can be confusing at first but after a while, we got the hang of the classifications and it became a breeze in the next few days in Hokkaido.

Yes, WiFi was provided and you do have the option to wash your dirty laundry and make use of the dryer, for free!  

Didn't quite matter for some of us as it was our first day in Hokkaido and the long hours spent on the plane and driving meant we were totally shagged out by the time we arrived at the airbnb. p.s. i still remain convinced that i would choose a hotel over an airbnb in the future.  



  1. me too!! I'm not an AirBnB convert. First, I find it difficult to locate residences, as compared to hotels. Second, the soundproofing between rooms is non-existent because it is like a typical apartment, with multiple rooms. Third, I am paranoid that during winter, the heater is not working etc and I donno where to get extra blankets! I'd prefer to pay for a normal hotel. The exception is in Scandinavia where AirBnB apartments tend to be located in superb locations and hotels are extremely expensive. Actually hostels aren't a bad option if not a budget, there are hostels with ensuite rooms.

    1. i totally feel you although in some of the hotels i stayed in; the soundproofing was worse! hahaha. However, the conveniences of living in a hotel far exceeded that of an airbnb, except for maybe the location as you have accurately mentioned.