The popularity of Airbnb is soaring. So much, in fact, that new regulations are being enacted in cities across the country including St. Paul and other cities right here in Minnesota (more on that here). People are also asking questions: Why aren’t home-renters paying hotel taxes if they’re operating as such? And what about the old hotels we’ve worked so hard to support? And who is insuring renters and hosts alike?
But while these questions and subsequent new rules will dictate the business side of Airbnb, it’s also important to talk about the social side. What is proper etiquette when using Airbnb? Do you treat it like a hotel? Or like you’re staying at a friend’s place?
If it is the former, then sex would obviously seem okay (given that you trust the cleanliness of sheets on which you’re sleeping). But is it a hotel? Not really. But it’s not the same as a friend’s place either, as, unless your friends are assholes, you’re typically crashing there gratis.
So, Airbnb is left somewhere in the middle?
Is it important, then, to remember first that you’re staying in someone’s home (and at considerably cheaper rates than a hotel), or that you’re paying money to be there?
Well, you are paying to stay there, and perhaps that is the most important consideration. To some that gives you the right to do as you please, and the host should expect everything that comes with accepting money for a service. If you’re traveling with your partner and want to get it on in a new city, or in new ways in an old city, you should be able to do so without regard for whose bed it is that you’re doing it in.
It is a business transaction, and is thus no longer a person’s home but a place of business in which you’re staying.
But it’s also important to note that the way you treat your surroundings does reflect upon you as well: Unlike a hotel, proprietors of an Airbnb space can review you after your stay; if you leave stains on satin sheets, or were so loud it woke the neighbors, it may reflect poorly the next time you attempt to use the service. Same as if you puke in an Uber too many times (or have sex, for that matter), at some point they’re going to stop picking you up.
Some Airbnb hosts set “house rules” especially for those traveling solo to keep the rental solo, i.e. not bring back anyone they met that night in a bar.
It’s also a little strange to think that you’re engaging in coitus someplace where maybe grandma comes to visit, children play on the carpet, or people take off their shoes after a long day of work.
And, as one user commented,
“What about cameras? You never know if the home you’re staying in is rigged with cameras to see what you’re doing. I don’t want to risk that…”
which is a pretty eerie, and dire, fear of staying in an Airbnb. But that is also part of the reason many are calling for more security and oversight.
These shared economy services are going to continue to be regulated, perhaps into oblivion; absorbed into the economy and turned into another business without the cheap rates and freedom that the “Sharing Economy” has allowed. Or maybe it will disappear entirely.
But until that happens, and with all notions of laissez-faire aside, it’s up to you whether you want to have sex in someone else’s bed. You’ve paid to stay there, so it is your right. But if you do, maybe change the sheets when you’re done.