An Airbnb rental in Ybor City needed a makeover.
The house had to be repainted and the kitchen cabinets didn’t match, said Frank Albert, an Airbnb superhost with 28 properties in the Tampa Bay area. But it was the right fit for a project to re-create scenes from one of the most iconic sitcoms: “Friends.”
Within two months, he and his best friend were hunting for the perfect paint hues and decor similar to what’s in the show, official “Friends” merchandise and a Central Perk orange couch. In April, Albert listed the 1920s bungalow on Airbnb with hopes it’s not just a place to stay in to see Tampa’s attractions, but that it becomes one itself.
While Albert said “Friends” was one of his favorite shows, the main reason he chose the ‘90s sitcom about the six young adults living in New York City was because of how recognizable it is. He came up with the idea about a year before he converted the house.
“There are so many shows where if you did a theme, (guests) might not pick up on what it is,” Albert said. “Whereas here with the purple wall color and yellow frame on the door, just seeing that one image even if you’re not a fan, you’d pick up on the fact that it’s ‘Friends.’”
Walking into the Airbnb, it’s not an exact replica. It’s a “modern interpretation with a lot of nostalgia added in,” Albert said.
The 1,100-square-foot property with two bedrooms and two bathrooms mixes scenes from Monica and Rachel’s apartment, Joey and Chandler’s apartment and the Central Perk coffee shop. The rental can cost $150 to $350 a night, depending on the dates and availability.
The living and dining rooms have Monica and Rachel’s purple walls with a piece of Central Perk with its orange couch. The walls are filled with framed photos of New York City and memorable quotes from the show, like “Pivot!” and “We were on a break.”
In the dining room, the main feature is a wall with a white neon sign reading “I’ll be there for you” inside a mural of the yellow frame. One cabinet has stuffed animals like a lobster and Ross’ monkey, which Albert said he brought back from The “Friends” Experience in Washington, D.C.
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Throughout the process, Albert said he was most like Monica from the show because he wanted everything to be perfect and in place. While he managed the remodeling, he credits his friend Erin Wertman as the brains behind how it looks. Wertmen is also a property manager who specializes in interior design.
When asked about whether he’d do another themed rental in the future, Albert said he’s thinking about it but wants to see how this one does. He has three to four other themes in mind for the future.
“I just don’t want to say and then give somebody else the idea,” Albert said.
His most memorable reservation at the “Friends” rental so far was a family wanting to celebrate a woman’s 108th birthday. Guests have come to celebrate surprise birthday trips and anniversary dates. There are also people who book for its proximity to Ybor City, the Casa Santo Stefano and the Columbia Restaurant. He keeps sweet treats from Chocolate Pi in Seminole Heights and Ybor City’s Chill Bros Scoop Shop stocked in the freezer with stickers of “Friends” characters on them.
Albert said he hopes it becomes a memorable place for guests.
“It reminds a lot of people of their childhood,” Albert said. “And I think no matter what phase of life you’re in, there’s always something that you can relate to in it.”