I’m planning a trip and have been spending some time on Air BnB looking for accommodation. I’m a big fan after staying in amazing homes and meeting interesting people all over the US last year. I’m surprised at how many people are still a little apprehensive about using Air BnB so that’s what this blog is about: why not to be afraid.
There are plenty of people who will tell you about all the things that can go wrong with Air BnB and of course there are horror stories out there, just like there are about booking accommodation in a hotel or motel or bed & breakfast.
The trick to avoiding disappointment (or worse) is to know how to read an Air BnB profile and match it with what you want. So be honest, do you love your mini bar, 24 hour room service, housekeeping and concierge? If so, then Air BnB is not for you. Book yourself a hotel room and be happy.
Air Bnb is for a different kind of person. Someone who wants to experience living like a local, perhaps outside of the tourist district (where all the hotels are), or who wants to enjoy an apartment or house all to themselves. Air BnB is for travellers who want something different: from a treehouse to penthouse, a cabin to a castle, and everything in-between. I’ve even seen Air BnB accommodation on a boat.
In Los Angeles I stayed in a beautiful midcentury bungalow and over breakfast in a kitchen that could have been from the set of Mad Men I heard stories from my hosts of rubbing shoulders with A listers on Oscar night and the gossip from Hollywood wrap parties. In Georgia, in a white two storied villa steeped in history, my host made me feel right at home with a bottle of NZ sauvignon blanc in the fridge and a plate of kiwi fruit on the table. He even presented me with a box of pastries from the local baker when I left in case I got hungry on the road; in my book that’s better than a chocolate on the pillow any day of the week. And in Orange, Virginia I was neighbour to Montpelier, the grand historic home of James Madison, the third president of the United States.
An Air BnB experience is as much about the people you meet as the accommodation you stay in. People who offer their homes to visitors are enthusiastic about sharing their love for their town and they always have stories to tell. My Air BnB hosts have been travellers themselves with open minds and curious natures. Air BnB for them is not about money but the thrill of meeting like-minded people.
But back to the things that can go wrong. If you find a crazily good deal for a beachfront villa, read it carefully because the chances are there will be others staying too; some Air BnBers rent out more than one room in their home. The golden rule is to decide what you need/want and then use the extensive filters provided on the Air BnB site to find accommodation that matches: sort by cost or by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms or the neighbourhood you want to stay in, search for accommodation that allows pets, or provides shampoo, or has a lock on the bedroom door. Watch for additional costs such as cleaning charges and remember that Air BnB charges a nonrefundable fee on top of the accommodation charge.
Choose hosts that you will feel comfortable with but remember that they also choose you so make sure that you include a photograph on your profile and be honest with the feedback you leave on the Air BnB site and remember that hosts can also leave feedback on their guests!