Though there are plenty of large, eye-catching homes available for rent on sites like Airbnb, it's not every day that guests get an opportunity to stay at an iconic mansion from a well-known TV series. But, lo and behold, fans of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will soon get a chance to experience life in the eyes of the wealthy.
Grammy Award winner and Academy Award nominee Will Smith has announced that he'll be turning the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air mansion into an Airbnb rental for five nights to mark the show's 30th anniversary. Fans will get a chance to book the real-life Bel-Air mansion for a series of one-night stays on Oct. 2, 5, 8, 11, and 14.
Best of all, the actor won't be charging an arm and a leg. Smith will let guests stay in the mansion for just $30 a night -- $1 for each year since the series' first episode aired in September of 1990.
But it's not just that guests will get to stay in the mansion; they'll also get the full Fresh Prince experience. Smith will make sure various aspects of his Fresh Prince life will be available to guests -- amenities that incorporate his West Philadelphia roots and Bel-Air transformation. Specifically, rooms will feature graffiti art, closets with the famous clothing Smith was known for wearing, and Philly cheesesteaks served on silver platters.
Of course, not everyone will get the opportunity to feel like the Fresh Prince. The single-night bookings being offered by Smith will only be made available to groups of up to two people who reside in Los Angeles County and who live in the same house. The mansion will also comply with all COVID-19-related guidelines, and will follow the enhanced cleaning protocols implemented by Airbnb since the start of the pandemic.
Will more famous homes start hitting the vacation rental market?
By offering up the Bel-Air mansion to guests, Will Smith has tapped into a huge market: TV enthusiasts. And to be clear, the home of the Fresh Prince isn't the only famous one available to guests. Downton Abbey's Highclere Castle, for example, is available for rental in the United Kingdom, as is the Chateau de Tourreau from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in Provence, France.
But still, investing in famous homes requires a certain commitment and attention to detail that not all landlords may be up for. If you're thinking of investing in a famous home so you can rent it out to guests, here are a few things you should know:
- Expect a lot of publicity. Added press can be both a good thing and a bad thing. You may find yourself overwhelmed with guests at the start, which could lead to a frustrating booking experience and bad reviews.
- Be prepared to manage expectations. Some parts of a famous home may look different in reality than they do on TV. You may want to set proper expectations with guests so they're not disappointed. And also, you may need to be prepared to renovate if the property you invest in has seen its share of wear and tear.
- Offer up the full experience. Smith isn't just letting guests rent a room in his famous Fresh Prince mansion; he's helping them live like royalty for the night. If you're going to invest in a well-known home, it pays to go all out and give guests the experience they're truly after.
Will Smith's Bel-Air mansion will be open for booking on Airbnb on the night of Sept. 29, and rooms will probably sell out quickly, leaving many fans out in the cold. On the other hand, real estate investors might choose to take a lesson from Smith and jump on the chance to buy up and rent out famous homes so that more fans can experience life as their favorite TV character -- even if just for a single night.