Our B&B is close to so many great restaurants and pubs Here is a pic of some great corned beef and cabbage from local pub Mayne Stage which us just a short train ride north of our place. It was a great way to celebrate the Irish holiday.
Although for many decades travelers have been welcomed into the homes of relatives and friends and offered the couch as a cheap place to stay, it was not until this decade that this tried and true option was revolutionized by the internet. With the advent of Craigslist, Airbnb, and similar sites, almost anyone and everyone is offering up couches, spare bedrooms and even entire homes for rent as a hotel alternative. While the notion of renting a room in a friendly owner’s home may at first glance seem appealing economically, there are a few words of caution to be offered before you jump in head first.
Renting such accommodations pose risks to both pocketbook and safety. Here is why.
Hotels, motels, bed and breakfast inns are almost universally regulated by local governmental authorities. Local statutes provide for minimum safety and health requirements. Establishments must has work smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, operating fire extinguishers, emergency exit lighting, and posted fire exit plans. I operate a B&B here in Chicago and can personally attest to the fact that each year we get a thorough inspection by the fire department, by the department of buildings, and by the department of health. If we don’t take appropriate measures to protect the safety and health of our guests, we do not get to operate.
Now compare those protections to what you get when you rent a night on a stranger's couch. Has that stranger devoted the same concern and resources to your safety and health? Do you know what you would do in a fire? How would you get out? Is there anyone on-site that can help you in an emergency? Is the location, building and apartment you are renting safe? Remember, you are staying in an unfamiliar city in an unconventional alternative to a hotel, motel or B&B. Ask yourself if the potential savings is truly worth the additional risks posed.
You should also be extremely alert for the potential financial pitfalls of renting such accommodations. If you send money to a stranger you found on the internet, is there going to actually be a place for you to stay when you arrive? Sites such as Craigslist are fertile ground for scam artists of all types. They will often go to great lengths to make their scams appear legitimate with wonderful photos of fantastic abodes near all the sites and available just when you are looking to travel and at unbelievable prices. Beware, they are often adept at making you part with your money. Check out the business and ask for references. Legitimate places to stay in most cities like Chicago has a website, a Facebook page, are on Google+, LinkedIn and other social media sites. Determine how you will get a refund if all is not as promised. Because of recent scams and problems with unregulated vacation rentals, many jurisdictions have adopted new local laws that require registration and licensing. Check the locale you intend to visit and check with the local tourism bureau or visitors center for further information.
Traveling to a new city is always an adventure. Make it a pleasurable, memorable one by heeding these few words of caution.
One of the many things I love about living in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago is that the local shops offer a unique shopping opportunity where you can always expect the unexpected. Yesterday, I had the chance to pop in to Brownstone Antiques and Collectibles at 5234 N Clark Street. What greeted me at the door was indeed a one-of-a-kind find: two 5 foot tall Indian chief lamps. They are simply awesome and I struggled all day to think of who among my friends would just have to have them. Unfortunately, I came up empty handed. But I want someone to have them and give them a good home for the next 75 years of their life. They are just too cool not to be shared.
The shops of Andersonville frequently offer opportunities to find objects like no other. Here, there are few chains and instead we have a collective of merchants that are devoted to bringing the community and our visitors that special gift like no other.
Shop local. Shop Andersonville.
Ok, just a few thoughts that I want to share about lodging and hotel alternatives in Chicago. Recently, there has been an explosion of available options. You may have heard of AirBnB.com or you may have come across one of the many advertisements placed on the vacation rentals section of Craigslist. It seems as though everyone has a couch or a condo to rent by the night or week. In large part, this has been driven by both the need for alternatives and present market conditions in real estate.
I found it interesting to learn about the impetus behind AirBnB while at a Inman conference in San Francisco. The idea was launched by several guys who literally wanted to see if there was a market for renting an air mattress to area visitors. Well, there was and the site took off from there. Now AirBnB has vacation rentals around the world. Similarly, even a cursory review of Craigslist vacation rentals will reveal hundreds of lodging options from a lowly couch to luxurious condominiums with all the benefits of home away from home.
I must offer a few words of caution to those considering one of these two alternatives. First, know what you are getting. Ask if the party you are renting from is reputable. Are you turning your money over to a stranger? What protections do you have? What would you do if you arrive and the property is not available, is not as described, or worse , the whole thing is a scam. Craigslist is replete with those offering multiple ways to help you part with your money. Is the property safe, secure, etc...
In Chicago, as of 2011, vacation rentals must be licensed. Ask for that information before you do business with any rental property owner. And, that goes for AirBnB rentals as well. Just because they are listed on that site doesn't mean they are licensed. MANY MANY MANY rental operators are not licensed and by doing business with them you are at risk.
A better alternative is to consider one of Chicago's many Bed & Breakfast options. Chicago licenses all B&Bs and to get this license, the establishment has to undergo a thorough inspection by the buildings depatment and the Chicago Fire Department. Each year the properties are re-inspected. Additionally, reputable B&Bs are members of the Chicago Bed & Breakfast Assciation http://www.chicago-bed-breakfast.com. Check with that group to find links to all Chicago B&Bs.
Chicago has many alternatives to the traditional hotel, but exercise caution in making your choices. Always ask if the benefit of saving a few dollars is woth the risk of a ruined vacation or visit.
Edgewater Community Council is sponsoring the second annual "Chicago SandCastle Open" this Saturday from 10-3 at Osterman Beach at Lake Shore Drive and Hollywood.
Are you a talented sandcastle builder? If so you could take home the $500 grand prize.Details Here.
Taste of Andersonville Dinner Crawl 2012
Come take a bite out of the neighborhood at the annual Taste of Andersonville Dinner Crawl!
Enjoy your favorites, find new spots to dine, and meet lots of neighbors and friends.
Choose from the SALT Route or the PEPPER Route, both filled with great eats. Or doTHE WHOLE ENCHILADA and do BOTH routes! Tickets for one route are $25 in advance and $30 at the door; for The Whole Enchilada, tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door. Get your event passport stamped by every restaurant on your route, and you can enter to win free tickets the Andersonville Dessert Crawl on September 23!
Purchase tickets here, then pick up your Taste passport the night of the event at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark. Beat the rush - passports can be picked up beginning at 4:00 pm!
SALT ROUTE - Vegetarian friendly
$25 in advance, $30 at the door
Ann Sather - Brownies
The Coffee Studio - Apple & Brie Flatbread
Fireside - Gumbo & jambalaya, veggie jambalaya, meatloaf
Hamburger Marys - Mini burgers and veggie burgers
Homemade Pizza - Slices of Pizza
Johnny Brown Bag - Arancini
Kopi - Gazpacho
Lady Gregory's - Mac & Cheese
M. Henry - Pork Sliders or Veggie Loaf Sandwiches
Noodle Zone - Tofu Pad Thai
$25 in advance, $30 at the door
Andies Restaurant - Pomegranate Chicken (Veggie Options Too)
Huey's Hot Dogs - Specialty Sausages, including a Veggie/Vegan Beer Brat
JB's Deli - Sandwiches, Wraps and Salads
Konak - Chicken Chops
Marigold - Murg Makhni (Butter Chicken)
Premise - Squash Blossoms
Ranalli's - Chicken Wings
Terry's Toffee - Assorted Toffees
Vincent - Duck Confit with Pickled Cherries
The Wooden Spoon - Flank Steak Sandwich with Cheddar Cheese
EVERYONE gets to come back to the Swedish American Museum for a cookie from theSwedish Bakery and an optional seasonal cocktail tasting from Koval Distillery.
Visit every location on your route and get entered to win two free tickets to the Andersonville Dessert Crawl on Sunday, September 23rd!
Routes, participating restaurants and menu items are subject to change!
Our fall calendar is starting to fill up. If you are planning a trip to Chicago this fall, book now. Good weekend dates and holidays are going fast. Don't get shut out.
TimeOut Magazine features Andersonville storefronts in this week's article. Check it out. This is what makes Andersonville such a great neighborhood to live in. Interested in moving to Andersonville? Reach out to us here at iMove Chicago and we can hook you up.
If you are visiting Chicago soon and staying with House 5863 bed & Breakfast, the Chamber of Commerce has an excellent web site where you can get a lot of useful information about our neighborhood and upcoming events.
Visiting Chicago? Groupon often has a great deal on a 3-day CTA pass. For only $9 bucks you get unlimited rides on on CTA buses and trains. The regular price is $14. Its a great way to save and get around Chicago. Here is the link or search Groupon for CTA.