RTW, LA: You, too, can rent a luxury yacht

The last days of my RTW trip were spent on a luxury yacht right across the street from where I lived in Marina del Rey, California, more than a decade ago.

I’d gone sailing many times when I lived there (always let someone else do the work — I was a washout as a sailor.) But I’d never stayed on a yacht. (I did rent a floating house once in DC on the Potomac River.)

So how did I find this? Through an outfit I’d never heard of before, though it’s been around for a couple of years: Airbnb. A company put together by a bunch of young guys. They started renting out part of their San Francisco apartment. Guests could choose from several airbeds — hence, the name. But the accommodation has grown a lot fancier since then.

The concept is still the same. Airbnb is for people who don’t mind renting out their properties — or part of their properties, like a couch or bed — for a night as opposed to a week or a month. Good for folks like me who may need a place to stay but not for very long.

At Airbnb, you’ll find choices as varied as the yacht, a couch for two, a treehouse,a castle and thousands of other novel living quarters around the world.  (I also found the so-called “Bohemian” lair mentioned in my last post. Apparently, Mr. Hollywood has now taken to renting out part of his space.) And there really is something for every budget.

In the interests of security, only minimal information is exchanged during the initial contact with the host. Once terms are agreed upon, payment is made through the site and then identities are fully revealed. Airbnb holds on to payment for 24 hours to make sure you’re satisfied.

[Footnote: Airbnb says it’s shocked by a recent report from a San Francisco woman that a renter she hooked up with through the popular rental agency trashed her home. The company says it’s the first such incident reported in 2 million stays. It says it’s offering the alleged victim financial support, as well as taking more stringent measures to protect both hosts and renters.

Obviously, that’s no substitute for doing your homework and obtaining as much information as possible before committing to anything.]

I tried to find out what I could from the Internet and questioning the yacht owner. But I was still a little nervous as I headed out to my old street in Marina del Rey. In this case, my apprehension was completely unfounded. My host was a 36-year-old IT guy, originally from the Ukraine. He was gracious and paid attention to every detail. He was watching his ex-girlfriend’s Maltese, Fred, and told me he’s still searching for the right girl. In the meantime, that dog was one lucky fella.

And the yacht was even better than advertised.(See pictures here; they’re much better than mine.) It’s got three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Much nicer than the studio I used to rent on the same street. The mid-July rates started at $118, the price of an average hotel room. (Rates vary according to day and season.) A woman and her two daughters were also staying at the same time. There was so much room, we never ran into each other.

Unlike my former studio, the yacht had a big refrigerator and filtered water and modern kitchen. It did have a shower, but the only downside was using the outside bathrooms in the Marina because the ones on the boat couldn’t handle very much.

Here’s how it went at my home away from my old home.

The two sides of my former street in Marina del Rey.

(Very) old studio apartment building. All this luxury cost me $650 when I lived there in the 1990s. Now it’s double that.

Almost directly across the street, the yacht Grace.

Queen of the World. Ready to scale the bow, stern, or whatever, and start rapping to I’m on a Boat.

Who wanted to hole up in the cabin with a vantage point like this?

Being that the cabin was on the water, I was serenaded by birds.

And a star-lit ceiling that glowed in the dark.

This kitchen may be nicer than yours.

No roughing it in the bathroom.

Me taking a shower. B-rated, for boring.

Invited to stick around for a cruise the next day. Proud to wear my sponsor shirt.

Mr. DJ. For a swinging bachelor party, this crowd was pretty tame.

Everyone too awed by the view.

Ah, the old neighborhood …

Who knew there were seals in the Marina?

Fred checking out the seals …

… and the only male to come on to me. Really, I’m OK with that.

The Marina was as beautiful as ever.

But like a Hollywood celebrity, it’s getting a lot of facelifts.

And losing some of its laid-back personality.

My late Hyundai would now stand out like a sore thumb at my favorite shopping center, which I barely recognized.

And California Pizza Kitchen (you can buy their stuff at the supermarket, but it still seems to taste better in California) is suddenly the place to be.

It should be obvious by now that I love dogs as much as the next guy. But … in the immortal words of Steve Martin: “Well, excuuuuuse me!

Fortunately, there are still some undeveloped places to enjoy this dazzling part of the world. It will always be one of my favorites.

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This entry was posted in Cool places to stay, How to travel around the world with just a carry-on, Los Angeles, North America and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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