Two thirds of our lodging was booked through Airbnb, and so far it seems like a great way to go. Full apartments in the center of popular cities usually for less than a small hotel room.
Airbnb got its start in 2008 in San Francisco when a couple of entrepreneurs with no money rented space on their apartment floor, using air mattresses, when everything was booked for a presidential convention. They bought large quantities of cereal, offered it to guests as their breakfast and put the rest into Obama and McCain boxes, as we recall (and they sold $30k worth). The two events, air mattresses and breakfast, started a new enterprise, which now rivals some of the largest hotel chains in the world for reservations. And, it made a couple of instant billionaires.
In Prague for $95, all fees and taxes included, we were able to rent a spacious, clean and modern apartment in an old building with high ceilings, two minutes from the Olde Town Square. That was for three persons. We checked the local real estate market, and we estimate that an apartment of this type, in this location, would sell for $500-600k, so the nightly rental seemed quite favorable.
Some owners make a little money, leave all their personal belongings in place and simply move in with a friend or relative for the rental period. Others are doing it as a business, and these places are less homey but more like a hotel space. Again, except they always have kitchens and often have washers. In addition, there generally is lots of contact, including directions, tourist information and arranging such things as taxis and even tours.
It’s simple to sign up as a guest or host, and each are rated. Many places have a minimum number of nights to rent, but in Prague that was not the case.