By the time I booked for the Greenbuild conference in Boston, every hotel room in the City seemed to be gone. But I have been intrigued by alternate ways of finding a roof and a bed that cost less and open one up to different experiences. TreeHugger has covered CouchSurfing and since I was on a bike I considered Warm Showers, but in the end I am not THAT adventurous.
the lovely and spotless bathroom
It is a "peer-to-peer" short term rental service where people who have a room for rent are matched with those looking accommodation. One can look at what is available and book online, or one can put out a shoutout for hosts to find you.
While my host says that he gets most of his bookings on Craigslist, Roomorama is a service for chickens. There are comments and reviews by guests, user profiles, reputation ratings and references to keep everything transparent. Furthermore the payment system is designed to make both sides comfortable; the funds are held in trust by Roomorama and only released when the guest gives the host a code on arrival.
There is a terrific email/ communication system built in that is monitored by Roomorama; when I did not understand how the payment system worked a support person jumped into the conversation and clarified the issue.
The room, which costs a third of what the hotels for the conference charge, could not be prettier or better equipped, perfectly furnished for an 1880 vintage townhouse with the exception of the fridge in the corner. It has coffee, soaps and shampoos far in excess of what I have seen in any hotel this side of the Four Seasons, TV and wifi, you really could not ask for more.
Except perhaps the location; it is a gentrifying residential area and even Google could find nothing within a mile that was not a McDonalds or Dominos. Had I known I would have packed a dinner.
But I got a stunning room, a great price and a four mile ride to the convention. I doubt every room is as nice or every host as genial, (I am from Toronto and some of the locations offered there are not exactly prime, but the prices seem to reflect that) but as a way of putting people looking together with people renting, Roomorama seems to work well. It is only in New York, Boston, Toronto and Chicago right now, but I hope it expands; It is easy to use, comfortable for the novice, and I got a steal in Boston. I will try it on my next trip to New York and report back then.