I Just Had to Airbnb This Tent on a Roof in South Philly

A look inside one of the most unique Airbnbs in town.

the airbnb tent on a roof in south philadelphia

The Airbnb tent on a roof in South Philadelphia (photo by Victor Fiorillo)

I’m a big fan of Airbnbs and VRBOs, and I’ve stayed in all kinds, from a posh penthouse with a private pool in the Middle East to a tiny cottage on a blazing beach in Malaysia to an eco-suite with a compost toilet in the Andes Mountains. So when I learned about an Airbnb tent on a roof in South Philly, naturally, I had to pay it a visit.

The South Philly Airbnb roof tent debuted over the summer near 20th and Mifflin streets in Point Breeze. I rented it on Friday for one night. The original price of $49 listed on Airbnb literally doubled (well, “literally” minus 46 cents, so $97.54) once they added in the $25 cleaning fee, $10.45 service fee, and $13.09 in those “occupancy taxes and fees.” But it’s still one of the cheapest Philadelphia Airbnbs.

The process that happens after Airbnb confirms the reservation is as unique as the property itself.

Once you get that Airbnb confirmation email, the realty company behind the Airbnb (they have non-tent Airbnbs in the area as well) sends you an external check-in form you have to fill out before they’ll let you in. I’ve never seen that in any of the other places I’ve stayed.

The check-in form requires you to upload state photo ID. They also require photo ID for any day guests, who are allowed in until 10 p.m., and any overnight guests (one max, for an additional $25.) Then there are the fingerprints. Yes, fingerprints. The host scans your fingerprints once you get there because they’ve opted to use fingerprints on their smart lock as opposed to a standard door code. (In point of fact, I evaded this requirement, because the host was unexpectedly unavailable, and he sent me a one-time-use door code.) Hella strict.

You can also request additional services on the check-in form. For instance, there’s a wash-and-fold laundry service for $3.99 per pound. They’ll also lease you an official residential parking permit for the neighborhood (the price varies from $10 to $15 per day, depending on how many days), which doesn’t guarantee you a parking spot in the densely populated area but does let you get around the two-hour parking limit.

But enough about the unusual preliminaries. Let’s get to the tent.

Once you arrive at the designated address, you go through the front door and walk up one flight of steps. Through another door, you’ll find the roof and the tent. If you’re thinking this is a tent on a roof that’s three stories up, that’s not the case at all. The tent sits on a one-story section of the roof. But even though it’s low, you do still get a view of some of the taller buildings in Center City, as seen here:

a view of the philadelphia skyline from the tent

The Philadelphia skyline, as seen (zoomed in) from the rooftop Airbnb tent in South Philly (photo by Victor Fiorillo)

And here’s a view of the street below:

a view of the street below from the Airbnb tent on a roof in South Philly

(photo by Victor Fiorillo)

The tent is no pop-up you’ll get at Walmart. This is a sturdy canvas tent made by White Duck. Inside, you’ll find a comfortable-enough double bed, bath towel (there’s a shared bathroom with marble shower inside the house), upholstered armchair, two camping chairs, a lighter, power strip (gotta charge that phone), and a heating lamp. And, yes, there is wifi.

inside the tent

Outside the walls of the tent, there’s very little room on the astroturf-blanketed roof to hang out but, then, you can only have one guest, so it’s not like you’re having a rooftop party.

This drone video will give you an aerial view:

Nice touch: the host left a bag of Angie’s Boomchickapop on my pillow. Once you’ve checked in, you can also have items delivered to your “suite,” as they call it, using a QR code. Deliverables include a toothbrush and toothpaste ($5.99), Cracker Jacks ($2.99), and Vietnamese coffee ($5.99).

If you require sustenance beyond Boomchickapop and Cracker Jacks, you can find the best roast beef sandwiches in Philadelphia just a few blocks away at Old Original Nick’s, drinks and snacks at Second District Brewing, pizzas at Stina, and breakfast sandwiches at Brunic’s Luncheonette.

When it comes time to check out in the morning, the realty company sends you another external link to a checkout form. On that form, you have to verify that you completed all of the necessary checkout tasks, which include stripping the bed, using a cleaning spray, and emptying the trash can. Then they ask you to put a tip to the housekeeping staff on your credit card.

Is it a lot of hoops to jump through just to sleep in a tent on a roof in South Philly? Possibly. But where else can you spend the night and say you slept in a tent on a roof in South Philly?