Even though I know it’s a ‘sell’, I’m perfectly willing to be deluded. Because what I’m being sold is exactly what I want: the delicious illusion that a high-thread-counted, puffy-pillowed, dimly-lit spacious hotel room is ALL YOURS. That the padded coathangers have never held another jacket. That the Nespresso machine is making the first fragrant coffee of its life. That the rainforest shower has never let a drop fall on any other head, and the bed has never known another body.

As summer arrives, so does an array of tempting new headlines. Searching for a London pad, I get hooked on ‘Dazzling Riverside Glamour’. I’m about to book when my uncle calls – from a 19th-century Parisian apartment, complete with grand piano and floor-to-ceiling library. ‘Airbnb!’ he tells me. ‘You know it?’

Yes, I know it. But I don’t want to be reminded of it just as I’m about to click on a Deluxe Room with Dramatic Panoramic Views, dimmable lighting, bespoke furniture and a stunning marble bathroom with MALIN+GOETZ amenities. Sure, Airbnb may be better value per square metre – but have you ever found a rental flat offering a ‘magical glittering glass-box rooftop bar serving the world’s best champagne’?

Yet listening to my uncle rhapsodise from Paris, I’m slowly convinced of the benefits of rental homes. Reading material. Fully equipped kitchens. Washing machines. Sofas. And ahhh, the cosy feeling of a lived-in space!

Two weeks later, I’m dragging my 23-kilo suitcase along a busy South London road, searching for the ‘second Pakistani newsagent after the third junction’, where my host has left a key. Now I remember useful things offered by hotels. Shuttle service. Reception. Bellboys…

An hour later, my shoulder burning, I’m bumping down two flights of steps to the bowels of a crumbling terrace house. What the English euphemistically call a ‘Garden Flat’, the rest of us call a Basement.

It’s dark, it’s cave-like. I remind myself I’m getting four rooms for the price of one. I remind myself of the cosiness of a lived-in space. Surrounded by worn shoes, ancient dressing gowns, and battered remotes without batteries, I peer out at my Dramatic Subterranean View: the feet of passers-by. My hotel-loving heart sinks.

In the bathroom, I remember how scary English plumbing can be. The Omen pales in comparison. A mini-Niagara Falls is pouring through the toilet. Were I in a hotel, I’d call Housekeeping. Instead I call my Host – who happens to be in Paris, where the happy people are.

The background noise sounds suspiciously like that of a glittering rooftop bar. ‘Sorry!’ he shouts. ‘I taped something… in the cistern… to fix it! Must’ve floated free!’

Elbow-deep in murk, I locate some trailing tape – and a pebble, giving a whole new meaning to ‘Stone Age’. This is not what I wanted! I wanted Sleek Modernity. I wanted ancient architecture, not ancient sanitation systems. I wanted to feel like a Hollywood goddess, not a plumber!

‘Don’t feel you have to stay,’ shouts my Host with the generosity of one who, albeit temporarily, has escaped real life. And with that I’m as free as a floating pebble, and I speed-dial the Dazzling Riverside people to find out if, amongst 359 Glamorous Rooms, there’s one just for me.