Airbnb-the next best thing next to Uber…or so people think. After using Airbnb in the U.S. and Europe, it’s safe to say we’ve seen both the good and ugly of staying in someone’s home. So here’s the nitty gritty on how to find the perfect property, the pros and cons and how our own Airbnb experiences went down.
How to use Airbnb:
I’ve got to hand it to the company, its website and app are super easy to use. Aside from the usual filters, you can see and compare where all matched properties are on a map. This is great because you’ll know exactly how far it is from the city center. After booking, you’ll get a message from the host with instructions on what to do when you arrive.
Insider’s Tip: If you pick a “shared room,” it’s likely that other couples will be at the property too. A new trend is that hosts are renting out several rooms at a time, like an actual B & B, so get ready to fight for the bathroom!
1. It’s an authentic experience-You actually get to “live like a local.” Usually your hosts have great tips on how to use transportation, where to eat and the top attractions to see. Especially when you’re in a new city, it’s nice to have a contact for all of your questions. Plus, not staying in a stuffy hotel can definitely make your experience; being surrounded by the culture pushes you to embrace it more.
2. The price-Let’s be serious, this is the real reason why we’ll pick an Airbnb over better accommodations. Just like with an Uber, the more people, the cheaper it’ll be. It’s an awesome deal for bigger parties, just be prepared to pay a deposit if you’re booking with a group.
3. Less stress-If your host is a good communicator, everything is pretty simple. Since you’re working with him/her one on one, it’s easy to ask questions, switch check-in times, etc. Another bonus is you get the “homey” feel. You don’t have to put on your professional persona and deal with hotel staff or worry about being too noisy; the vibe is much more relaxed.
Thanks to Airbnb we were 15 minutes from Oktoberfest & saw amazing sunsets in Croatia
1. It’s unpredictable-Even though you’ve done your research, you never know what you’ll get. Most pictures of the property are reliable, but it’s tough to trust a host’s profile 100%. You don’t know what your host will be like, what amenities you’ll be offered or if the location is accurate.
Insider’s Tip: Pick a property with a lot of reviews and read them! Previous renters will be honest about their experience and give you an idea of what you’ll walk into. Also, always keep an open mind and don’t set your expectations too high. Remember, this is NOT a hotel, so the amenities (like getting a towel) will be different for each stay.
2. All hosts are different-With hotels, the procedure is the same…well throw all of that out the window! Each Airbnb host is different. Some will be cool with allowing you to use the kitchen, others have extremely strict rules. You just have to go with the flow and remember that each host has a unique system for his/her home.
Insider’s Tip: Try to cover basic information with your host right off the bat when you meet them like: how to come in/leave the house, WIFI password, if amenities are provided and what the check-out process is like. Sometimes you won’t even see the host and will be given codes to get into your Airbnb, so be prepared for anything.
3. Be alert to scams/misinformation-We’ve had a few experiences where hosts will ask us to wire transfer money offsite or the Airbnb maps didn’t accurately pinpoint an address. Since Airbnb is more of a liaison between hosts and renters, always keep an eye out for anything unusual going on.
Insider’s Tip: If you’re nervous about this, picking a Super Host is always a good idea since they’re recognized for being great with guests. Just use your common sense-if it seems sketchy, report it. Airbnb headquarters is hard to get ahold of and honestly they’re not helpful, so if there are problems, you’ll have to take matters into your own hands.
Airbnbed (yes, I made up a new verb) our way through England
Through the good and ugly, booking an Airbnb is worth the risk. We’ve met wonderful people and came away from each experience with an exciting story to tell. While it’s more unpredictable than your usual stay at a hotel, the price and exposure to local culture make using Airbnb a definite contender for your next stay.