Living in a ‘superhost’’s home in Delhi

Nalin Jha, a city-based Airbnb host, has won the company’s “Superhost” title for five consecutive years

It has a balcony that opens up to a view of the Hauz Khas fort and lake. It’s easy to picture yourself here, on a Delhi monsoon morning, with a chai and book.

This is an Airbnb apartment, whose host Nalin Jha, has been consistently ranked as one of the company’s “superhosts”. The programme, which recently marked its 5th anniversary, recognises hosts who qualify every quarter on the basis of four counts: a booking cancellation less than 1% of the times, a 90% response rate to enquiries, a 4.8 overall rating, at least 10 guests in a year, or in the case of a longer booking, at least three guests over 100 nights of stay.

Jha’s managed to keep the title for all quarters in the five years of the Superhost programme. He started out with three studio apartments, expanding to this two-bedroom space. Eight months ago, someone else leased out three two-bedroom apartment nearby for Jha to run as Airbnbs.

The concept isn’t new to him. Growing up in Bhagalpur in Bihar, there’d be a lot of guests visting. “People didn’t stay in hotels then , and whoever my parents would host, they’d give them our best room,” Jha recalls, noting that the experience has clearly stayed with him.

At Jha’s Lake View Luxury Apartment, which is booked out for all the remaining days of this month, and already for two weeks the next, the decor is thoughtful: You enter to a sea-foam chevron patterned accent wall. The eye drifts to the pink couch in the hall. A built-in bookshelf is stocked with non-fiction, travel- and coffee-table books, and Jha says he’s never noticed any books missing. “People have actually left books behind, as it happens during last-minute packing.” A lot of the art, including paintings by Desmond Lazaro and works of French photographer Bernard Faucon (who was lately in the news for accusing the K-Pop group bts of plagiarising his work), he says are acquired from city-based galleries like Nature Morte.

“If 70% [of a good stay] has to do with the location and interiors, the rest is human interaction,” he says. He loves Delhi with a passion, and despite the much-documented nature of the city’s food and entertainment scene, it is his personal touch, of taste as well as keeping in mind a host’s time constraints, for instance, that makes his recommendations to the guests valuable.

He’s also gained much from the experience, he says. “I may have hosted over 4,000 people over the years, but every time I have a new guest, I’m nervous…each review left is the ultimate reward,” he adds, recalling how meeting such a varied cross-section of people from different professions and cultures has left him with memorable and affecting experiences for a lifetime.

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