I hate to interrupt the regularly scheduled programming, but I started a new job this week (!) and simply didn’t have time to write this week’s Five Friday Favorites. Fear not, because I’ve got some great content for you today and I’ll be back next week with some new Friday favorites!
When planning a trip, hotels are often one of the most expensive items to budget for. On our recent trip to Europe, BF and I decided to look into options other than hotels to see if we could save some money. Of course there are many options out there, from vacation apartment rentals to camping, and everything in between. For us, Airbnb seemed to make the most sense. According to one study, Airbnb rentals can be as much as 38% cheaper than hotels in Boston, and we found similar savings in Europe.
We rented four different Airbnb spaces over the summer, and learned a lot from our experiences. Today, I’ll share the top 5 tips we learned to ensure a great Airbnb experience.
- Understand that Airbnb rentals are not hotels. The first step to having a great Airbnb experience is setting your expectations. Airbnb rentals are not the same as staying in a hotel. You’re likely to get more space than a hotel, and can often find places with a kitchen and other amenities, but you’ll give up certain amenities, too. Airbnb rentals aren’t likely to have a gym, a daily cleaning service, or a concierge. They might not be as spotless as a hotel, and the location might not be as central (although this can be a good thing if you like to stay in less touristy areas). It is important to understand these things – both what you are getting and what you are giving up.
- Book rentals that have reviews. There are tons of options on Airbnb, most of which have numerous reviews from people who have previously stayed in those rentals. There are, however, lots of options that have never been reviewed. This could be because the listing is new or because previous renters have chosen not to review it. In my opinion, it is always best to book a place that has reviews, and the more the better. Reviews tell you that real people have stayed in the place and found it acceptable. It can be tempting to book some of the un-reviewed places, which often appear to be very nice and sometimes have a lower price than heavily reviewed places. The danger here is that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, and without reviews it can be hard to judge the accuracy of the listing. I prefer to be safe rather than sorry and rely on the reviews of other renters in making my Airbnb selection.
- Coordinate check-in details in advance. This goes along with understanding that Airbnb rentals are not the same as a hotel. At a hotel, you typically don’t have to let the front desk know when you’ll arrive because there is always someone there. For Airbnb rentals, you’ll typically be met by someone (often the owner) when you arrive, so that they can give you the key and show you the place. This requires some coordination and forethought. For example, if you know you’ll be arriving late at night, a hotel might be a better option because you’ll often pay extra to have a late night key exchange for an Airbnb rental. It is also possible, especially if you are travelling abroad, that you won’t have cell phone service, making this type of coordination challenging. Thinking through when and how you’ll get into an Airbnb rental is an important step in the decision making process.
- Ask your host for information. One of the best things about renting from Airbnb is that you get to meet an actual, local person who is familiar with the area you are staying in. We’ve had great luck asking our hosts for advice about what to see and where to eat. Most of the time, hosts are very happy to provide suggestions, and their suggestions are likely to be less touristy than those provided by a hotel concierge.
- Tidy up before you leave. In a hotel, you may be in the habit of leaving towels on the floor, beds unmade, etc. With Airbnb, in addition to rating your host, your host has the ability to rate you, so it is important to leave the rental in good condition. You don’t need to clean, but put trash in the trash can, hang towels and make the bed. Oftentimes Airbnb rentals are the hosts’ home, so it is important to be respectful.
Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb rental? What was your experience like? What tips would you add to this list?