Monroe Co. hotels, rentals fill up as eclipse draws near

Eclipse Lodging and Travel

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The total solar eclipse is almost a month away from plunging Rochester into total darkness. For a few minutes on April 8, Flower City and dozens of others across the country will experience totality as the moon passes in front of the sun.

While it will only last a few minutes, celebrations across Monroe County are happening all weekend. With hundreds of thousands of visitors expected to come to Rochester, hotels are either completely sold out, or down to their last few rooms. 

These rooms sold for two, three, even six times as much as a typical April weekend, with some charging as much as $700 a night. The same price jumps and booked-out rooms ring true for home rentals, too. 

The entire state of New York has seen a 900% surge in searches,” Haven Thorn with Airbnb said. “What that means is: Compared to last year during the April 8 weekend, there’s been a 900% surge.”

Thorn is the communications manager for North America with Airbnb. He said New York is among the most booked states — if not the most booked state — for the eclipse weekend. In Buffalo, 75% of listings are taken. In Rochester, around 60% of all Airbnbs are rented out.

One of those rentals is the primary residence for the Hiller family. 

“I think we’ve rented it out probably like seven or eight times, typically maybe twice a year,” Jenna Hiller said. “We try to plan it when things are going to be away, or maybe in the summertime, when we’re camping.”

Hiller said that they’ll also rent out for big events like the PGA, even if they’re in town.

“Typically, we wouldn’t rent our home out in April, cause it’s a busy time in our lives,” Hiller said. “But with the eclipse it seems like a perfect opportunity to have people enjoy our home. We’ll most likely stay with my parents, cause we still want to be in town to enjoy it, too.”

The Hillers rented their home for more than $800 a night the days leading up to the eclipse. And they’re not the only ones jumping on the chance to earn some extra income. Thorn said Airbnb has seen a massive increase in first time users on both sides of the rental experience.