Why choose an Airbnb?
We first stumbled across Airbnb when we travelled to Copenhagen back in 2014. It was the first time we’d tackled a city break with our then 9 month old and we had this sudden realisation that we needed self catering and more than one bedroom. Hotels just weren’t going to work.
Move on 4 years and we’re now well and truly hooked and to be perfectly honest rarely look anywhere else for our accomodation. It offers us everything we need. We feel like we’re staying in ‘authentic’ accomodation – somewhere slightly off the beaten track – and at the same time it costs considerably less than hotel accomodation. It also has the added bonus that we can self cater, which is all together easier with children. The option to have more than one bedroom means we can put the little people to bed whilst we sit and relax (and drink wine!). The other wonderful reason to book an Airbnb is that you can be flexible on how many nights you stay, which day you arrive etc (perfect if you’re on the look out for bargain or if your annual leave arrangements don’t allow full weeks from Saturday-Saturday etc).
That said, I’m often asked by friends and followers how we pick our Airbnb accomodation. People are often concerned about booking one – how does it work? How do I pick one? How do I make sure it’s nice? What happens if something goes wrong?
So here is my attempt at reassuring people and providing some sort of guidance.
1. Narrow down your search area – you can search by town, city, neighbourhood, road etc. If, as we often are, you are flexible on location and looking for a good deal use the search by map function.
2. Set filters to prioritise what is important for you. We always want our own place (in Airbnb terms ‘entire place’), parking is often important (either for our own car or a hire car). The list goes on. If travelling with children you can set the filters to include child friendly listings but from experience I find that even accomodation that isn’t listed as child friendly often is (just check the accommodation rules to check – we recently came across one in Oxford that didn’t allow children under 16)..
3. Check reviews. The more reviews the better. Read some of them carefully. Is there anything that bothers you? Trust your instincts.
4. Read all the property rules. They vary. Some are reasonable and some are odd. We’ve generally not come across many odd ones but worth checking in any case.
4. Ask questions. Not everything is clear from photos and descriptions. If you’ll need a travel cot etc then ask. They may have one but not have explicitly stated this in the listing. They can also help with where to park, how to get there from somewhere etc.
5. Airbnb charges both the host and guest a booking fee. Factor in the fee when budgeting.
6. Always pay and communicate through Airbnb. This is really important. You occasionally hear of people losing loads of money because they don’t do this.
7. Unless you’re using the instant book function then it can be worth communicating with a few owners. You do sometimes find that a place isn’t actually free etc.
8. As your stay approaches (say 3-4 days before arrival) start communicating with the owner again – sort out how you’ll get the keys etc. Equally at check in clarify how you’ll drop the keys back (some owners meet you and check the apartment in person – rare, from our experience, others have a special drop box etc).
9. Almost all of our Airbnb choices have been incredible but should you find yourself staying somewhere that isn’t as described you are actually reasonably well protected by Airbnb. My advice in the first instance is to raise any concerns you have with the owner. We arrived at one apartment in Seville last year to find that the swimming pool was out of action. Cue a very disappointed 3year old!! As soon as I let the owner know she arranged for us to have access to a water park nearby! If talking to the owner doesn’t resolve the situation then you should contact the local Airbnb representatives. It’s also worth noting that Airbnb withholds payment from the owner for 24 hours after a guest’s arrival to make sure everything is in order – so another reason to notify the owner and the company immediately if there are any problems.
10. Finally, if you’ve not used Airbnb before, book through this link for £25 travel credit with Airbnb and we get a little something off our next booking too, enjoy!
Thanks for reading. Any other tips you’d add?