I must admit that I am one of the travel junkies. Ideally, I would travel every month if I could. There are so many new places in the world, just begging to be discovered by me!
On my travels, I used to book hotels via the common booking portals – trivago, hotels.com and such. It was all fine, at least most of the time. You get what you pay for, right? Hotel room, breakfast and sometimes dinner or some upgrade included.
Fast forward a couple of years.
I received an invitation from a friend to join Airbnb. There was even some credit for the first booking attached. To be honest, I did not have a clue at first. True, their website looked rather nice and sharp. But the whole concept – renting apartments from strangers? I was not sure about that.
I have received some follow-up emails from Airbnb remaining me about my unused credit. It was around $50 at the time. That prompted me to give it a closer look.
If you are new to Airbnb, there might be some questions that pop up immediately:
- Is it safe?
- How do I deal with the apartment owner?
- Will the place be clean?
- What about the check in / check out?
- Will I get breakfast?
- What if something goes wrong?
Being a cautious woman I am, I was really contemplating these and more questions. Especially the issue of safety and potential problems bugged me the most.
The thing is, Airbnb has prepared for this kind of situation. There is a non-stop helpline and procedure in place if something goes wrong. And I think that the travelers are covered more than the landlords. For example, I rented an apartment in Barcelona, Spain. It looked cozy and charming in the pictures. In reality, was not too bad either. But…around 11:30 PM, a huge party started in the apartment next door. The catch was, the walls of the place were super thin. It seemed that we were right next door as if the walls were made of paper. We begged the people next door to keep it quiet, but no luck. The party must go on! It somewhat ended around 3 AM, but people still talking loud, we could not sleep at all.
After filling a claim with Airbnb, the whole rental was canceled promptly and all the money returned to Paypal account within hours. (including the first night) We were free to book elsewhere.
Thankfully, in 50+ rentals, this was just one problematic one. The rest was just great.
Now, I am not saying that I totally dismissed hotels. I book them as well, especially when I get a good deal out of it. But I am so happy with the way Airbnb works, that I clearly prioritize it.
These are the reasons why I love booking holidays with Airbnb:
- I can book a whole apartment, not just a tiny hotel room. It means the place is much roomier, with a kitchen, living room, balcony. I just love being able to work on my computer in comfort.
- It feels more connected to the travel destination. I love being in the old medieval city center of some European town. With lovely cafes, bookshops and restaurants at the doorsteps.
- Very often the landlords are helpful. You get local tips for attractions and activities. Suggestions for local restaurants that aren’t tourist traps. Maps and plans.
- Pricewise, Airbnb is very good in comparison to hotels. For the same price or lower, you get much more value.
- With their new program Airbnb for work, it is possible to book places that are fully prepared for business travelers. Fast wifi connection, workplace or parking. It is awesome to have a fully equipped apartment and still have the other advantages of Airbnb.
- I LOVE the possibility to book experiences – in my case, yoga classes. I’ve had yoga workouts in San Francisco, Sydney, Hong Kong, and New York. But there are endless opportunities – go sailing, wine tasting, even for an acting class 🙂
Things I don’t like so much with Airbnb:
- Check-in can be somewhat problematic when traveling at night. Some landlords are just not that flexible as the receptionist at hotels. I do not blame them and I fully accept it, but I feel like I should state this here.
- The owner can cancel your reservation after it is made. It happened to me just once and I got reimbursed for it, but still.
- The problem of the accuracy of the listing. The place can be dirty or dark and small. Now I look only at offers with many positive reviews and from verified landlords – so-called ‘Superhosts’.
3 Hacks for getting the most out off Airbnb:
- Negotiate the price with the owner before you book. Many landlords are more than happy to respond positively after you send them a friendly message before you commit to a booking. Just write a little about yourself and mention that you will look after the place. This will work especially if you are after a longer-term rental of 2 weeks and more.
- Always check the reviews. Get a feel about the listing and try to read between the lines a bit.
- It might be cheaper to book for more nights that you actually need! It is often the case when the listing offers weekly and monthly discounts. Do your math – it could be cheaper to book for 7 nights instead of 6 or for 27 instead of 28.
Now you are ready to go!
Happy travels 🙂
P.S.: How to get free Airbnb coupon code for your first booking
It is rather simple. After you click this link that contains the Airbnb promotional code, you will be taken to the signup screen.
The important thing is, the code is valid only for a new Airbnb account. Sign up with your facebook or email that has not been used with Airbnb before.
After the registration, the voucher has been already applied to your account. Now you will get a discount of $40 (sometimes more, depends on where you are from) for your first Airbnb stay. I think the minimum booking value has to be $80. It changes over time so please check that on the website.