This is part of our special series ‘When Strangers Meet’. Have you met someone special through a chance encounter on Airbnb? Friend, husband, wife, long lost soul mate: we want to hear your story.
It happens when you let your guard down. When you open up to new adventures. Or, as everyone and their mother says: Finding “the one” happens when you’re not even looking for it.
So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to discover an overwhelming number of couples who met and fell in love through the serendipitous circumstance of an Airbnb. But we still are. Every time. From strangers to soul mates, we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with the stories of couples who met through one fateful stay in an Airbnb. This is one of them.
Shannon & Josh
It’s pretty rare when love just shows up on your doorstep, rings the bell, and introduces itself with the intention of staying in your guest room. But that’s what happened when Shannon came to stay at Josh and Ernie’s San Francisco home for one night.
Josh’s father, Ernie, had taken ill, falling into some financial troubles along the way. They were worried it would force him to sell his beautiful home overlooking the bay, so his son, Josh, stepped in to help while he was finishing law school. In order to make enough money to save the house, Josh put a few of his father’s guest rooms up for rent on Airbnb. It was an immediate success, making them enough to keep the house while Josh managed the bookings on Ernie’s behalf and continued studying for the bar.
Meanwhile, Shannon was in the midsts of a big life change. She’d just moved back to the states from Edinburgh, and was trying to figure out in which city she could live. Something about San Francisco spoke to her, so she decided to book a night at Ernie’s property to get a feel for the area.
“The first thing that struck me was, ‘Wait. Who was this handsome man answering the door?” Shannon laughs. “From the host profile, I thought I was staying with an older man and here was his charming son who—while cooking a meal for his father—was helping me with my bags. So that was a nice surprise.”
They struck up a conversation standing in the hallway just outside of her guest room. Before either of them realized, hours had gone by as they talked about, well, everything. Eventually, Shannon asked where she should go grab dinner in the area.
Josh laughs, “Looking back, I was kicking myself like, ‘You idiot! Why didn’t you ask this girl to have dinner with you?!’ But I wasn’t thinking, and I told her to go check out this great sushi place in Cole Valley, just down the street from us.”
“I was in this sad place of trying to figure out where I belonged after Edinburgh. I didn’t know anymore,” remembers Shannon. “Here I was, pretty much crying into my sushi by myself at dinner. But there was something about the area. I immediately felt at home. There were all these signs that this was the place, that I belonged in Cole Valley. I called my friend to tell her, ‘I think this is it! And by the way, you wouldn’t believe: my host is this really good looking guy who is here taking care of his father… and he’s actually cooking!’ I mean, I’d never met a guy like him. ”
Shannon left the next day, but when she made the move to San Francisco a few months later, Josh was the first person she contacted.
“I’d been thinking of her. About that conversation, and just how much we clicked,” Josh explains. “So when she sent me that message, I literally jumped out of my chair! I couldn’t reply fast enough.”
The two began a courtship centered around the dining room table in the house where they first met. Being an avid cook, Josh would cook for Shannon there while they talked for hours. Or they would host bigger dinner parties along with other friends who were former Airbnb guests. A year later, the two are now engaged and living together in the house, still hosting Airbnb guests from all over the world.
“This has easily been the best year of my life,” Shannon says, looking at Josh. “I just can’t believe how amazing it’s turned out—from crying into my sushi in Cole Valley, wondering where I belonged, to realizing that I could spend the rest of my life with this amazing man who opened his home to me that night. I just feel like we’re so blessed.”
Josh agrees. “I honestly thought I’d never get married. I’d been on plenty of dates, but it just wasn’t happening. And here I was, basically never leaving this house because I was up to my ears in textbooks studying, and taking care of my dad and these guests. Then this woman of my dreams literally knocks on my door.”
Lauren Fleishman is an award-winning, New York-born photographer currently living in England. Her photo book, ‘The Lovers’, documents the stories of couples who have been together for over five decades.