Alain De Botton’s The Art of Travel with Airbnb

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Alain De Botton held an intimate discussion around the philosophy of travelling with the re-release of his book ‘The Art of Travel’. The event was co-hosted by Airbnb, who are working with Alain on distributing his book with travellers after realising they share the same philosophy on travel.

On Monday we were invited on behalf of HelloYouCreatives as a joint promotion between The Culture Mag and HYC to cover this amazing event.

De Botton spoke about his book, ideas on travel as a whole, thoughts on the future of travel and virtual reality, whilst bashing the rigidity of travel journalism a little in the process.

The event was held in the stunning Clock Tower at St. Pancras Station, which was rented through Airbnb.

Kings Cross towers airbnb

In his book De Botton links the meaning of life with travelling. At the event he says that Airbnb wanted to make the entire experience of travelling better, and not just offer somewhere to stay the night. This links in to Alain’s philosophy of travelling as a whole – that travelling is about the people you meet and the culture that comes with it. “Art is corrupted in travel. People think that the essence of a country is in its museums, but it isn’t… what people really want to do is meet people”.

And that’s what Airbnb is all about. It’s not just a room to stay in, it’s taking part in the culture of the city, and becoming part of a persons household for the duration of the visit.

De botton airbnb event

For the past 2000 years Budism has looked at achieving calm within oneself, and Alain suggests that this is what we should focus on in our travels “If i ran a hotel the focus wouldn’t be on the drinks, it would be on the mind.”

One thing that takes away from this is the use of connected devices such as mobiles and tablets. Alain suggests that unless we disconnect we experience a flattened experience “it’s fatal.”

Alain de botton

Alain gave two pieces of advice to people who wanted to have their perfect holiday or enjoying travelling:

1/ Reduce ambitions: one journey can’t be many things.

2/ Have a clearer idea of what you want to achieve: relaxation, exploration, excitement – whatever it may be, focus on that aspect and make it happen.

He adds “impulses are always bad. We are badly wired human beings, we have to draw sense out of them.” So next time you see a poster advertising a beautiful island, take a step back and think more about what you want to get out of your holiday than jumping in head first.

The art of travel

His book is going to be distributed to the next 10,000 people who stay in an Airbnb – perhaps then people will be able to fully relax, and according to De Botton, remember once again how to enjoy travel.


The owner of The Culture Mag. I love alternative music, films that make me think, oh and anything to do with food!

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