Airbnb has been in existence for five years now, but it was only relatively recently that I picked it up on my traveler radar. It’s an online platform which connects travelers with hosts willing to rent out their spare room, studio or house for a fee.
Having now used Airbnb for both long- and short-term stays, I’ve got only good things to say about it. It feels a bit like a mixture of Couchsurfing and staying in a hotel – all of the local expert knowledge and sense of being in a proper home, but with levels of privacy and quality of your choosing.
Here are just some of the reasons why you should consider using Airbnb when you’re next traveling (and no, they didn’t pay us to write this!):
It’s Easy and Free
It’s free to join and search Airbnb properties – the only price you pay is a booking fee to Airbnb in addition to any bookings you make, which are usually 6-12% of the total reservation. Sometimes there are service charges for things like cleaning etc that you will be liable to pay as well – these are clearly marked on each listing’s page. Generally, however, the listings are excellent value even with these taken into account.
In addition to this the website is easy to navigate (allowing you to browse properties by location, price, facilities, accommodation type etc) and is very simple to use. Another big plus is that all of the terms and conditions (for example, cancellation policies and house rules) are very clearly displayed, meaning that you can choose the property that best suits your needs without worrying about any misunderstandings.
Variety of Choice
What I really love about Airbnb is its versatility – whether you’re looking for somewhere cheap for a night whilst backpacking, a home for several months whilst you’re studying or interning, or a luxury holiday for a week or two, there’s something for everyone. Just make sure you search the correct dates when you start your search, because some listings are only available for specified lengths.
Properties range for ‘cheap and cheerful’ to ‘five star luxury’ and beyond – for example, over 600 castles are listed, as well as an impressive collections of houseboats, campervans and yurts (check out Airbnb’s ‘wishlist’ if you don’t believe me). Plus, with over 500,000 properties listed in over 34,000 cities spread across 192 countries, you won’t often find yourself starved for choice.
Using Airbnb can be a great way to meet locals or, at the very least, to get your host’s best tips regarding things to see and places to go. Obviously if you rent a room you can hang out with your host, but even if you don’t see much of your ‘landlord’ you can still benefit from their local knowledge by emailing them through the site and/or reading through previous guests’ recommendations in the ‘review’ section. Airbnb even publishes its own handy neighbourhood guides online for some of its most popular destinations as well, which are definitely worth checking out.
Financially speaking, Airbnb is great in that all payments are made through a secure online platform – meaning that any financial disputes regarding things like deposits or problems go via Airbnb.
Furthermore, Airbnb has similar safety vetting systems to Couchsurfing – host validation, guest reviews etc. Always make sure you read what previous guests have written before making a booking, speak with your host before making a booking, and trust your instincts. In the unlikely case that things did go awry, you can contact the 24/7 customer support helpline.