BIG READ: No vacancies? Let this app match you with a spare room

Charshy Nash lets out her spare room on Airbnb and is now so popular, she is a super Host                 Picture Habibur Rahman (171459-888)
Charshy Nash lets out her spare room on Airbnb and is now so popular, she is a super Host Picture Habibur Rahman (171459-888)

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Most weekends Charshy Nash welcomes total strangers to stay in her flat.

They come from all over the world; there was a student from Malaysia, a divorcee who was preparing to sail around the world and needed somewhere to rest his head for the night, and couples who just want to get away from it all.

Danielle Travis pictured outside her home in Southsea, which she lets out on Airbnb            Picture : Habibur Rahman (171459-880)

Danielle Travis pictured outside her home in Southsea, which she lets out on Airbnb Picture : Habibur Rahman (171459-880)

It’s not a big flat, but it’s cosy and they know they can come and go as they please.

Charshy, a 31-year-old actress, is one of a fast-growing number of Airbnb hosts who make a nice sideline renting out spare rooms, granny flats and even greenhouses to strangers through the app that has changed the way people travel.

It was a choice between renting her spare room in Queen Street, Portsea, to a long-term lodger or opening her home to guests for a night or two to make some extra cash. She chose the latter and the experience has been so positive Charshy is now an Airbnb super host.

She says: ‘I actually really enjoy it. I would have been taking a risk with a lodger as we may not have got on. So this was a great alternative.

I was very uncomfortable to find a strange nude male in my home the next morning!

Charshy Nash

‘When I started out I heard all the horror stories, but to be honest, most people understand what Airbnb is about and their introductory message is usually a bit about who they are and why they’re visiting.

‘I don’t use the instant-book option – I like to know who wants to visit. I’ve only ever declined two guests because I felt uncomfortable, but I feel reassured that I have that option.

‘The other thing you can do is set house rules. I had to set an extra one in mine which is no overnight guests who are not on the Airbnb listing.

‘It prevents people using your place for casual hook-ups.

Sam, Hugh and Neil Darragh on their travels around the world. They are frequent Airbnb users

Sam, Hugh and Neil Darragh on their travels around the world. They are frequent Airbnb users

‘I had one female stay who did this, which necessitated adding this rule. I was very uncomfortable to find a strange nude male in my home the next morning!’

Charshy has been a host for a year and uses the £50 per night she charges to invest back into the flat.

She says: ‘I want to make it a nice experience and I’ve been lucky enough to meet interesting people from all over the world.

‘One couple visit Portsmouth regularly as they’ve been through some traumatic stuff and it’s their getaway.

Neil Darragh in his tiny Airbnb flat in Barcelona, called Little Abode

Neil Darragh in his tiny Airbnb flat in Barcelona, called Little Abode

‘A family from Malaysia stayed for a week while they checked out the university for their daughter. They took quite a shine to me and asked if she could live with me.’

Across the city in Eastern Villas Road, Southsea, 39-year-old teacher Danielle Travis rents out her spare room.

Danielle says: ‘You have all kinds of different people walking through the door, and I think that is one of the things I enjoy about it.

‘The really wide spectrum of people who use Airbnb really shows how many people visit the city.

‘I’ve had guests from European countries like France and Germany, and some people travelling to the Isle of Wight who needed a place to stay for the night.

‘It is an interesting experience because I get to meet people with a massive variety of stories to share.’

Danielle has also stayed in some rather quirky Airbnbs when travelling abroad.

She says: ‘I once stayed in a greenhouse and have also been on someone’s boat.

‘For starters, it is so much cheaper than staying in a hotel, which means the holiday becomes much more affordable.

‘There is also more choice of where to stay. Sometimes if a hotel in the city centre is fully booked you end up staying a good few miles away, but by using Airbnb you find yourself spoilt for choice in some places, which is fantastic.’

Nurses Robyn and Dave Gentle spent a fortnight travelling around Italy, staying in weird and wonderful Airbnb accommodation – from a Milan apartment to a VW camper van in the countryside.

Robyn, 27, says: ‘We stayed in the camper van on our wedding anniversary as a surprise from myself to my husband and it has been our favourite Airbnb experience – truly unique.

‘We have used Airbnb in the UK also and have never had any issues. We are always just very respectful of that person’s home and their possessions.’

Earlier this year Neil and Sam Darragh, from Farlington, decided to quit the rat race, rent out their house and go travelling around the world for a year with their three-year-old son Hugh and 14-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Poppy.

Sam, a 35-year-old former Hampshire County Councillor, has used Airbnb many times – from flash apartments, villas and barn conversions to studio flats.

One of the most memorable was a property called Little Abode in Barcelona.

She says: ‘Little, in real estate terms, normally refers to square footage but this was actually quite large – from a horizontal axis. From a cubed footage, not so much!

‘It would be more accurate to call it a vertically-challenged abode because if you’re taller than 5ft 10in, like my very tall husband, (pictured below) you’ll be walking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

‘There was no WiFi and the toilet didn’t flush without plumbing intervention. ‘

But, she says, the flamboyant hosts – a wealthy doctor and his wife – made the stay so much fun.

She adds: ‘We told him we were heading to the south of France and his words stuck with us. We repeat this quote several times a day now and it took everything in our being not to cry with laughter when he said it, “The south of France is fabulous.

“Not like here, Spain, ugh! So working class!”

‘We left madly in love with those two fabulously eccentric oddballs.’

For fun house guests and quirky nights away, you should have no reservations about Airbnb.

THE RISE OF AIRBNB - AND HOW TO USE IT

The Airbnb story began in 2007 when Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, then both 27, were struggling to pay the rent on their Rhode Island apartment and let out their spare room, and an air mattress, to make extra cash.

The idea of creating a website for others to do the same took off. There are now four million Airbnb listings worldwide. In 191 countries there are 65,000 cities with homes listed with Airbnb.

Hosts and guests must download the Airbnb app from the airbnb.co.uk website. Airbnb takes a three per cent service fee from the host for each reservation.

The fee is in addition to the six to 12 per cent paid for guest service fees.

Both hosts and guests must have a picture profile on the app for security.