In today’s I Heart Hamilton Airbnb adventures, a lovely stay at a Cheery Bohemian Home run by Airbnb Superhost, Kelly a.k.a. Consciously Shining! Fun fact – it was Kelly who first pitched the idea that I stay at her local Airbnb, which led to me living out my “be a tourist in your own city” mantra and exploring a few more. I’m so glad we finally connected and made it happen for me to stay in her cozy, colourful home.

The house is tucked into a quiet neighbourhood in the west end, within walking distance from Locke Street, James North, and a jaunt up to Westdale, as well as quick access to nature, hiking trails, and green space. Which is one of the things I love most about Hamilton – you get the city vibe with accessible green spaces close by as well. Another perk to the location is a major grocery store just up the street.

Kelly provides a tourist-friendly guide listing some of her favourite places in Hamilton including Royal Botanical Gardens, Gage Park, Hamilton Farmers’ Market, James Street North, Bayfront Park / Waterfront Trail / Pier 4 Park / Pier 8, and Hamilton Beachfront. Of course she must also leave you with some delicious food suggestions! I like that she chose a range of areas including Bread Bar, Planted in Hamilton, La Luna, Papagayo, Merit Brewing, The Collins Brewhouse, Baranga’s On The Beach, August 8, and Taylor’s Tea Room.

As you arrive, you are greeted with a magical garden space and back patio. Perfect for lounging on a summer’s eve, I settled in with my laptop and to catch up on some reading (fittingly, local author Elizabeth Hirst’s novel The Face in the Marsh, who I recently chatted with on 93.3 CFMU).

Heading inside, I absolutely love the hue of blue that fills the walls. The nature and Zen vibes of the back patio continue inside with leafy green plants, salt lamp, and a bookshelf filled with inspiring reads that continue upstairs in the bedroom. Some favourites which caught my eye – The Alchemist, A Return to Love, plus some Rupi Kaur, Ernest Hemingway, and Maya Angelou.

Kelly’s sweet cat Rosie will also be there during your stay. As someone who doesn’t currently have a pet, I love being around animals! Having Rosie’s energy around me as I relaxed that evening was lovely. My favourite part of my stay was relaxing in the living space with Rosie during the twilight hour – that dreamy part of the day where it isn’t quite completely dark outside yet, but the sky is a beautiful deep blue, turning into a rich midnight blue. I flicked on a string of lights, the salt lamp, and another light fixture, and it was such a peaceful setting.

Being an ideal spot to stay while visiting Hamilton (or staycation, in my case!), another neat option is that the space is also available for day use as a work space. Complete with desk and wifi, you can also upgrade to include a healthy lunch, snacks, and beverages. Check out my chat with Kelly below to learn a little more about the Airbnb.

After my stay at this awesome local Airbnb, I wanted to learn more about how Kelly got started.

When and why did you first decide to begin operating an Airbnb?

In 2014 I went on a trip overseas, and stayed in a city called Bristol in the UK with a girl I had met a year previous when buying something off her Etsy shop.  Somehow despite the distance we became friends, and started writing each other retro pen pal notes.  When I decided to travel a year later, she opened her home to me.  I stayed with her and her five roommates in an inner city bohemian neighbourhood, and just fell in love with their lifestyle.  This is actually what brought me back to Hamilton, the pursuit/creation of a new way of living.  This group of early 30-somethings inspired me because of the way they all shared the expense and responsibilities of living, allowing them more money to travel, eat at fabulous restos and support one another.  At the end of my two week travels in the UK and France, I returned with a vision for how I wanted to live my life.  Airbnb started becoming a thing at the same time.  In April of 2015, I listed my home in Brantford and began the search in Hamilton.  I knew I wanted a tiny space, having lived in 2600 sq feet when married, noticing how little we actually used the spaces, then living in 1700 sq feet in my first home on my own.  I didn’t want to have the responsibility that goes along with a huge space and large yard.  I literally wrote out exactly what I ended up buying here in Hamilton, right down to the details of a tiny yard in the middle of the buzz of the city. 

I made my Airbnb listing on a whim, as an experiment, shortly after moving in.  I had become curious about how I could leverage my existing assets to make income.  And thus, the Airbnb was born.  I was SHOCKED at how popular it was, by how many people wanted to book with me.  I quickly learned that I was not just providing a place for people to sleep, but offering an experience, a connection.

Where are some of the places the travellers who stay with you are from?

I have had people from all over!  A lot of people come to our city to visit things that locals don’t even give attention to!  Like Dundurn Castle, or the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Many people book in Hamilton due to proximity between Toronto and Niagara, for events and concerts, many to move their kids to McMaster University in September.  Some come for romantic stays with their partner. I have had guests from France, Egypt, the US, UK. 

What are your go-to places you like to recommend your visitors check out while in Hamilton?

I always recommend the natural places like the RBG, Dundurn Castle gardens, hiking spots.  I recommend guests rent a bike and see the city that way as opposed to driving a car.  I try to recommend the old school classic Hamilton restos like Papagayo, La Luna, Wass – the ones who have been here forever, before the big boom of foodie places.  I recommend the Bayfront a lot too.  I try to make myself available to answer any questions that my guests have so I can sell the best parts of our city!

What do you enjoy the most about being an Airbnb Superhost?

The title definitely points wonderful people in my direction.  First, I have never had a “bad guest”.  I have had one less than pleasing experience, but in three years of hosting I have no worries about people using my space.  I tend to attract people who are like-minded because of the language I use on my listing, like eco-space and bohemian home.  The people who visit me are people that are looking for a space that feels like home.  I have had the kindest feedback from guests, and I really love my home and love offering its good vibes to others.  Being a Superhost is also great for me as a guest; the Airbnb community is a tight, welcoming and supportive one.  This community has literally changed the way people travel and stay.  I just stayed at an Airbnb in Prince Edward County and had such a wonderful time.  Hosts will often ask other hosts for honest feedback, which I actually love doing and receiving.  The majority of us hosts are doing it simply because we love our space and love meeting new people; we certainly aren’t experts in this industry, most of us are figuring it out one guest at a time.  So the support is really special. As a parent, I love telling my daughter about our guests.  It isn’t a “conventional” or “normal” thing to do, rent your space to others, and I love showing her all of the opportunities that life presents if you are open and willing to be curious.

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Find this Cheery Bohemian Home on Airbnb and follow Kelly on Instagram @consciouslyshining. You can watch my video tour under my Airbnb highlights on Instagram!

This post is not sponsored by Airbnb. I received accommodation courtesy of Kelly – thank you!

kristin
ihearthamiltontour@gmail.com
Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (www.ihearthamilton.ca), where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing an influential social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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