Michael Grova spent seven years in Africa, working on clean energy projects. Work brought him back to the States, but he's still an avid traveler. But he's also found that Airbnb can help keep him connected to global culture: He has hosted more than 100 guests in a loft space within his light-filled apartment in San Francisco's Mission district, half of whom he estimates are international.
"Now the world comes to me," he says. "Hosting is a way to share cultures and experiences." For visitors from the US or abroad, Grova believes his home allows for an up-close view of the unique contemporary culture in the City by the Bay. "What makes this place special is the dynamic nature of the Mission," he says. With technology companies reshaping the Bay Area, the Mission is going through rapid transformation. "Love it or hate it, it's what's happening," he says. "It's a moment in history.
Grova enjoys creating itineraries for his guests, from urban parkland bike rides to neighborhood walks punctuated with stops at shops and restaurants. He'll even tell his visitors with whom they should strike up conversations, as he knows many of his neighborhood's shopkeepers and restaurant owners. "The great thing about the Mission is you can just walk down Valencia Street and make a day of it," he said.
He recommends Linea Cafe, for the best espresso in the city, and Tartine Bakery, for the pain au chocolate. He sends visitors to check out Dolores Park, best enjoyed with the fantastic ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery. Come cocktail hour, he likes Tacolicious for happy-hour margaritas and can't-miss guacamole.
Back at his duplex, visitors have the option of full privacy in the loft penthouse bedroom, which features a private deck and dramatic city views. Guests are also welcome on the lower level, which features a comfortable living area and a large kitchen and dining area for those who like to cook.
Upstairs, the setting is romantic enough to have prompted Grova's favorite moment as a host: the engagement of a couple staying in the guest suite. "It was unplanned," he says. "He was just enjoying the view and decided to propose right there. I ran up to take a picture of them. I was just so honored to be a part of it."