It is way past my bedtime and I can’t pull myself from the computer screen. I keep going deeper into the rabbit hole of Airbnb, contemplating apartments in Rome.

One in the Trastavere neighborhood has a host who will come teach a cooking class in the spacious kitchen. Another is less grand, but “just meters from the Spanish Steps.” Yet another, near the historic park of Villa Borghese, is wrapped on four sides by a terrace, which may or may not come in handy in March, when high temps average in the 60s. (I open another tab to research that fact.)

This task should only make me happy. But I am stressed.

Does everyone in Rome want to rent me an apartment? I am reminded of recent research done on choice. The more, the merrier, we think. But studies have found that the more choice we have, the more stymied we become. We’re paralyzed by the options, afraid we’ll choose the wrong one. And that perfectly explains my predicament at 11:45 p.m. on a Tuesday.

Also, I can’t stop thinking about the stooped, smiling woman I encountered years ago at the Dubrovnik bus station. She was hawking a room at her home the old-fashioned way — long before Airbnb came along — by accosting travelers as they disembarked from a bus. She promised that her house was near the city’s gorgeous walled center. I believed her, struck a deal and then followed, dumbfounded, as she walked farther and farther away from it.

Could I again be duped with false promises? How could I trust an Airbnb listing, beyond reading the reviews, which in my late-night fog I was also beginning to find suspect?

The next morning, my savvy teen daughter gave me the answer. “You’re only considering superhosts, right?” she asked. Oh, so that’s what the little badge icon by the photos of some hosts indicates: These are experienced hosts whose rentals garner consistently rave reviews, and who offer “extraordinary experiences for their guests,” according to the Airbnb site.

Turns out you can filter Airbnb searches to see listings from superhosts only. That helped calm my nerves.

Another boon to my decisionmaking: a good night’s sleep. No more apartment hunting at midnight.


Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.