In response to a lack of housing regulations that steadily raise rent and hotel prices across New York City, enterprising businesspeople decided to #innovate new accommodations for travelers by listing parked vans on Airbnb that went, in one case, for as low as $97 a night. Now, despite the wisdom of this plan, the city has impounded these vehicles and dashed the dreams of budget-minded tourists worldwide.
New York Magazine reports that the most famous of these vans, a red Ford Econoline, had advertised itself for two years now as offering travelers an opportunity to “experience the #VanLife in NYC” through a luxurious suite most recently parked in the East Village, with a view of scenic Bubbles N Go laundromat.
YouTuber Uptin Saiidi filmed a tour of this vantel a few weeks ago, establishing that “the average hotel price for one night in New York City is over $400" before spending a night in the more affordable option. He seems pretty open-minded about the premise, but does mention that it smells pretty bad and it’s annoying to have to venture to a list of bars and restaurants in order to use the bathroom. “It was a very cozy experience,” he says after waking up, comparing it to camping.
The New York Magazine article explains that city authorities have let these mobile Airbnbs exist for a long time despite it being “illegal to park a converted van on New York City streets for longer than 24 hours.” Instead of hauling any of them away, they’ve just accumulated tickets.
Something changed recently, though, and the grandiosely named “Operation Room Service” has now resulted in seven van hotels being impounded. Apparently, every one of the ad-hoc Airbnbs “had New Jersey plates, three of which belonged to other vehicles, while a fourth’s tags expired 21 years ago.”
Nobody knows yet who owns the vans, which leaves us to speculate that this entire thing was a user research program conducted by an experimental wing of the Hilton Hotel company.
[via Boing Boing]
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