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Living'Airbnb' loft for rent in Thoburn Mill

‘Airbnb’ loft for rent in Thoburn Mill

New 2-bedroom “Thoburn Loft” joins seven other listings on Airbnb

By Nathan Rudyk


You may have heard about Almonte’s lack of overnight accommodations and how it’s putting a crimp in the local economy’s growth potential to host festivals, business meetings and weekend tourists. But local property owners are rising to the challenge with a “sharing economy” service called Airbnb.

Airbnb allows “hosts” to share a room, an apartment, or an entire house with guests via and handles the electronic booking and commerce functions in exchange for a 15% fee charged to guests. The web site operates in 34,000 cities and Canada is one of Airbnb’s largest global markets. Nearly a million Canadians have used Airbnb and about 650,000 visitors to Canada used the service last year according to a company spokesman interviewed by The Canadian Press last week.

Compared to zero just a few years ago, there are now eight Airbnb listings in Almonte, ranging in price from $119 for a private room with breakfast included, to $184 for a two-bedroom loft in a heritage building where four can stay and make breakfast, lunch and dinner in the provided kitchen. My wife Glenna and I threw our hat into the ring this week with “Thoburn Loft”, a 1,000 sq. ft., 2-bedroom space in the Thoburn Mill. We are starting out charging $156 per night during the week, $165 during weekends, plus a $25 per stay cleaning fee. Our neighbour in the same building lists her 375 sq. ft. studio apartment at $119 a night, and told us it’s been a great experience, with people staying from a night to take in the shops, restaurants and galleries sprouting up all over town, to a month to take care of an elderly parent.

I joined Airbnb in 2015 and have used it to successfully book apartments for weekend stays in Montreal, Pittsburgh and Toronto since then, with satisfactory results. The first place in Pittsburgh was literally someone’s bachelor apartment, and he cleared out to his girl-friend’s so we could move in for the weekend. It wasn’t luxurious but clean and usable in a centrally located, safe and walkable neighbourhood. With a Pittsburgh Steelers game on that weekend, Airbnb was our only option – everything else was “no room at the inn”. In Montreal and Toronto, the apartments appeared to be dedicated to Airbnb guests, so felt more like micro-inns – more intimate than a hotel room, and more like a self-contained guest house.

My wife Glenna just booked a two-week summer vacation with our daughter in Germany using Airbnb for every booking. What’s great about the site is that guests rate hosts, and hosts also rate guests, providing a level of trust and familiarity using the tools of social media. Airbnb is also learning how to create operating rules for all parties involved in a stay, right up to insurance plans for hosts, and arbitration if a guest feels they were treated unfairly or a host has somehow misrepresented the room or apartment on offer.

The idea for Thoburn Loft came as we completed a year-long renovation project converting the second-story space above Sivarulrasa Gallery from my former office to what will eventually become our future home. But with a family wedding this summer, we figure we need our rambling house and pool, as well as the loft, for one more season of entertaining. Then the downsizing will begin.

Thoburn Loft has all the comforts of a future home – from heated bathroom floors to granite kitchen counters, refinished pine-board floors and exposed brick from the days our space was a woollen mill work-room, and a couple of intimate balconies. The feature though is the 14-ft. living-room window – we call it the “Town-aquarium view” – where you can sit and watch the goings-on of the Mill St. and Little Bridge street intersection, clouds above Bay Hill, or magnificent west-facing sunsets.

Who knows, the Airbnb hosting experience might prove fun enough to make it a long-term project. Maybe we’ll have to find another down-sizing landing-pad! Until we make that decision, anyone can rent Thoburn Loft on Airbnb for a day to a month depending on their needs, or check out the other seven offerings in our town. I’m sure there will be more in the coming months and years.

If anyone wants to try out Airbnb for the first time, they can click on this link for a $30 credit they can use at Thoburn Loft, or anywhere in the wide world of Airbnb.





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