As health care professionals, emergency workers and relief personnel continue to work to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, Airbnb wants to give back by offering them free or subsidized housing.
Not only will this move allow medical workers to live closer to work, which can eliminate their need for public transportation, it will also allow medical workers to isolate themselves from family and roommates after working closely with infected patients.
The company wants to house 100,000 responders around the world. The mission launched last week when Airbnb worked with the French government to find 4,000 hosts willing to house doctors, nurses and caregivers for free.
“Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help,” Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said in a statement.
According to CNN, all homes and apartments donated for the program must meet standards determined by Airbnb-selected medical experts. All hosts who would like to donate their properties can visit Airbnb’s new portal designed for its new program.
“Hosts can opt into the program and have the option of opening their homes for free through Airbnb’s Open Homes platform, created in 2012 to meet the needs of people requiring emergency housing,” the company explains. “If hosts are not able to host for free, Airbnb will still waive all fees on the stay.”
With so many travelers trying to get home amid world travel bans, Airbnb has also recently expanded its “extenuating circumstances” policy, which permits guests to cancel or alter their bookings without paying a fee in the event of a natural disaster or emergency.
Other hospitality businesses are joining in, providing lodging for the people who are willing to risk their health each day to help others.
“We’ve heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders,” said Gebbia. “We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times.”
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W Mexico City: Youthful, Earthy Energy
Upon arrival into my gorgeous room at the W Mexico City, I found a note from Diego, my W Insider, with a Lady Gaga lyric.
“Hot like Mexico, rejoice,” it read, appropriately. Inside was the ticket for the National Museum of Anthropology we’d been e-mailing about.
That’s one of the brand touchpoints of W hotels. The W Inside is like a “super concierge,” a neighborhood expert who cultivates neighborhood relationships so the hotel’s guests have a—well, an insider—in their corner.
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I myself am not after the hottest nightclub or most exclusive new coffee bar, but in Mexico City’s tony Polanco neighborhood, that’s all to be had for certain. The hotel is across the street from a Bentley dealership a stone’s throw from Chapultepec Park and Avenido Paseo de la Reforma.
Just north of the hotel is the leafy Lincoln Park, where a statue of Abraham Lincoln stands sentry, locked eyes with another statue of Martin Luther King Jr. across the avenue. The surrounding neighborhood is bursting with pasty shops, restaurants with global cuisines and high-end fashion retailers—all with a global sensibility, although I could still get a pack of four hot, fresh churros in cinnamon sugar with hot chocolate from a storefront called El Moro that’s been serving them up since 1935.
Mexico City, for all its notoriety, is one of my favorite places in the world to visit. The vibe here is of a Mexico that’s worldly, cosmopolitan, and eager to enjoy days filled with savoir-faire. I watched families excitedly poring over the exhibits and played in the fountain at the anthropology museum on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, and on my walk back to the hotel through the park, I happened upon a single young man who had staked out a place in a dusty clearing, standing stiffly upright, practicing long, sweeping circles with a capote, the magenta and gold cape used in a bullfight.
Any hotel in such an enchanting place would be charming by necessity, but the staff here easily pass the high bar Mexico sets for hospitality, whether they’re pouring sophisticated mescal cocktails in beveled highball glasses at the lobby bar or serving Mexican cuisine with pre-Columbian styles sand flavors upstairs at 25DOS, the hotel’s signature restaurant.
It’s there that I try dogfish empanadas and a lovely chicken broth poured atop piping hot chicken taquitos, and finish the evening with a black sesame cake with dulce de leche, dining alfresco, cooled by the alpine evening.
AWAY Spa worth checking out, if for no other reason than the temazcal, a Mesoamerican sweat lodge heated by volcanic stones and smokey embers over which is poured mint-and-chamomile infused water for an earthy aromatic steam. Well, perhaps the expansive hot tub with city views or the top-notch massage is also reason enough to check out the spa.
25DOS does a lovely breakfast spread in the mornings with fresh fruit and country favorites like eggs with tomatoes, fried cheese and cactus, but I’m told there’s a lovely brunch next door at the JW Marriott Mexico City. A mimosa, an embarrassing number of glasses of fresh-squeezed orange juice and countless tacos of salmon and rib eye grilled to order outside next to my table, plus selections from the raw bar rang affirmative that the recommendation wasn’t to be overlooked.
The hotel’s rooms and suites have lovely views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Rooms are brand standard and well maintained, but it’s the suites that are truly jaw-dropping, from the Cool Corner suites to the Marvelous One-Bedrooms which are loft style with a staircase and an upper-level bedroom.
I’m lucky enough to snag the Extreme Wow Suite, which has sweeping views of the city from three directions and a separate butler’s pantry and dining room, a wet bar, two balconies and a cheeky round bed. But the real winner for this suite is the soaring two-story marble bathroom with jetted tub in the center. The glass-walled shower upon first glance appears to be lit by a chandelier, but upon closer inspection that also turns out to be the four separate showerheads, in addition to the four coming from the wall.
It’s the perfect place to cap off a perfect day in this exciting city—a hotel that feels like the pinnacle of luxury in a city that feels like the center of the world.
W Mexico City’s location, heartfelt hospitality, and art ethos will attract sophisticated, energetic travelers seeking to explore vibrant neighborhoods with youthful vigor.
I’ve seen rooms as low as $158 USD per night, which varies according to occupancy, season, and exchange rate.
Lobby art, craft cocktails, views from rooms and suites, and the collection of sugar skulls at 25DOS all rate an Insta-mention.
Good to Know
Allow extra time for walking due to the elevation – Mexico City is over 7,000 feet.
When arranging transport, inquire with the hotel staff about travel times—the journey to the airport can be as little as 30 minutes or as long as an hour and a half.
Accommodations and meals were furnished by W Mexico City in preparation for the story.
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