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Insider Today: Airbnb hosts' cruel summer

Jordan Parker Erb   

Insider Today: Airbnb hosts' cruel summer
  • This post originally appeared in the Insider Today newsletter.

Hello from Scotland! I'm Jordan Parker Erb, filling in for Joi-Marie.

It's been a rainy week here, but stateside, the weather is warming up — and some of you may be getting your toes summer-ready. But before you book your appointment, don't miss these pedicure-specific red flags.

On the agenda:

But first: Let's go to Scotland.

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This week's dispatch

Edinburgh's crown jewel

This weekend is the unofficial start to summer, with Memorial Day marking the return of warm-weather vacations and beach trips. Rarely one to follow the crowds, I opted for a different place to kick off summer: Scotland.

After a red-eye flight from New York City dropped me off in Edinburgh on Thursday, I checked into the Balmoral, a hotel in the heart of town.

Opened in 1902, the Balmoral is new compared to neighboring Old Town, the oldest part of Edinburgh where I'm told some buildings date back to the 12th century. And still, the hotel is dripping with history.

Originally built as a railway hotel, the Balmoral is home to a clock tower that's become a staple of the city's skyline. The catch? The clock is almost never right — it's set three minutes ahead to help travelers make their trains. It's only right on New Year's Eve.

The hotel has played host to a number of Britain's VIPs, from Paul McCartney to J.K. Rowling. In 2007, Rowling finished the final "Harry Potter" book at the hotel. A suite, marked with a bright purple door, is now named after the author.

For all its history, the Balmoral doesn't feel stuffy. Thoughtfully curated rooms draw inspiration from the natural world; Floral wallpaper and tartan textiles give the city-center hotel a distinctly Scottish feel.

Read the full review.

A dire health hazard

A recent study by researchers at the University of New Mexico found microplastics in all the canine and human testes they examined. It's alarming given that testes, like the brain, have a special blood barrier that's meant to keep that from happening.

Experts told BI that to reduce your exposure to microplastics, you should avoid microwaving plastic or plastic-coated containers.

What the experts are saying.

Greece's best-kept secrets

Having written guidebooks about Greece for the past 15 years, this author has stumbled into some stellar, lesser-known locations.

Instead of flocking to popular spots like Santorini and Athens, she recommends visiting places like Symi and the Peloponnese region. Symi is replete with Venetian-style mansions and swim spots, while the Peloponnese region is home to both mountains and long, beautiful beaches.

Read the rest of her recommendations.

Chinese millennials' new status symbols

In China, rich millennials are reinventing status symbols, honing in on "quiet luxury" and their personal style. For some, that means opting to have fewer kids to focus on their careers and traveling solo.

Others are turning their attention away from loud, flashy brands and towards understated clothing choices. Similar to the West's "old-money aesthetic," their "laoqianfeng" is a way to look effortlessly put together.

How they're changing the concept of luxury.

Airbnb hosts brace for another cruel summer

With the Airbnb gold rush long gone, travelers have a plethora of options when booking a short-term rental this summer. Hosts are facing mounting pressure to get ahead of the unpredictable season and stand out among other listings in their areas.

Some are using direct bookings, which allow them to avoid fees and pocket more money. Others are hiring local influencers to lure guests.

Read more about their summer strategies.

What we're watching this weekend

  • "Atlas": Jennifer Lopez stars as a counterterrorism analyst in Netflix's new sci-fi movie.
  • "The Beach Boys": Disney+ has a new documentary about the legendary band featuring never-before-seen footage and new interviews.
  • "Evil": The final season of the Paramount+ hit premiered this week.

    See the full list.

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