When I wanted to take a vacation in Duluth to kick off the summer, I started looking into a trend that’s taken hosting by storm: Airbnb.
I’ve used Airbnb once before in New Orleans, when young homeowners rented me a spare bedroom in their house. The experience let me see what it’s really like to live in the area—not just to visit. Every afternoon, I walked a few blocks to find neighborhood lunch spots, such as a po’ boy shop. I once ran across a parade and spent a few hours with the locals. Along with the authenticity of my stay, the comfort of returning to someone’s home and having access to amenities, including a full kitchen, made me want to give it another go.
And I’m far from the only one. The home-rental company is still growing. Founded in 2008, Airbnb finally turned a profit last year and has served more than 150 million people, who have rented from hosts advertising everything from private rooms to studio apartments to entire houses.
Meanwhile, Duluth, too, continues to grow as a tourist destination. According to wbng.com, 6.5 million people visited Duluth in 2016—a record-breaking number for the city.
Duluth Airbnb host Eric (who, for business reasons, requested we don’t publish his last name) says that compared to hotels, Airbnbs give visitors a chance to customize. “I know exactly what my guests want before they get here,” Eric says.
Airbnb posts Duluth listings for North Shore cabins, and one host allows guests to sleep in his boat docked on Lake Superior. A few listings sit within walking distance of downtown, some are tucked into residential areas, and others dwell in remote nature miles up the shore.
Many hosts with private bedrooms ask for about $45 dollars a night, with prices sometimes increasing over the weekend. Listings for entire homes can cost $200 to $400 dollars. According to Airbnb’s website, Duluth’s average price per night is $62—a bargain compared to downtown hotels that cost more than $100.
But the unique experience, the homey feel, and the relatively low prices sometimes aren’t enough reason for people to choose Airbnb.
“Guests who don’t like the idea of sharing my home aren’t part of the Airbnb culture and energy,” Eric says. “Airbnb isn’t for everyone.”
But if it is for you, don’t wait to book your stay at an Airbnb in Duluth since summer weather means more people will be snatching up listings. “I get 1,500 views, on average, every month, and there are only 30 bookable days in the month,” Eric says.
When I searched for Duluth Airbnb listings, only two were still available. I was interested in staying in a home deep in the woods, about halfway between downtown Duluth and the North Shore. What I love about Duluth is the contrast between the big city and dense wilderness, and I want to experience both sides. But with slim pickings left for summer, I might have to postpone my search for a Duluth Airbnb until the fall.