During our month trip to Europe last year, 10 of our 13 different accommodations were Airbnbs. It’s by far the best way to experience your location as a local and opens up so many more options to travel well and inexpensively. Whether by yourself, as a couple, or with a group, Airbnbs beat hotels in several ways.
Opinions are my own & I didn’t receive compensation for my writing. These links contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down & posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.
Airbnbs are private homes or apartments put up for short-term rentals. The scheduling offers more flexibility than rental companies and more amenities than hotels. The company has been around for almost ten years, and what I’m offering here isn’t new information. That being said, I’ve heard many people question the wisdom or safety of staying in Airbnbs. Today I want to offer my thoughts about Airbnbs and why they’re fantastic!
Advantages of staying in Airbnbs
Here’s why Airbnbs are great:
- Having a kitchen. This is by far the biggest help. If you’re traveling on a budget, cooking some of your meals at home is a huge money saver. Are you the midnight snack type? You can keep yogurt, ice cream, or leftovers in the fridge! Want to have a glass of wine while you change? No need to call down to the front desk in search of a corkscrew!
- Price. For two people traveling together, a good Airbnb is often cheaper than a hotel room or a private room in a hostel. If you choose the shared house option, it’ll definitely be! But even if you opt for an apartment or house, you get more amenities for the same price or less.
- Variety of location options. Sometimes your accommodation budget may limit the areas you can afford to stay in. Airbnbs open up more options with this, which may make transportation simpler or cheaper.
- They’re perfect for group travel. Think about the advantages of staying in a house or condo vs a hotel room. When traveling with a big group, children or other couples, Airbnbs give you communal space and amenities while still having private bedrooms. I’ve recently stayed in a beautiful home for a wedding weekend with another bridesmaid and her husband, and our house became the wedding party hangout spot as well as where the hairstylist and makeup artist got the bride and her crew ready the day of!
- Amenities. Hotels often have pools, but how many have pools all to yourself? Many Airbnbs have fancy amenities like pools or hot tubs. You can search for places with a washer & dryer, which was crucial for our month-long trip – I tried to book a place with laundry facilities every week or so, to save time and money to find a laundromat! You can also search for places that allows pets, has parking, or includes breakfast.
- Advice from locals. I have universally had great hosts, which you can read more about why this is usually true of Airbnbs below. Often they will leave sweet notes and suggestions about local restaurants or things to do, and if you have a specific idea in mind you can always message them for suggestions! At a recent bachelorette weekend, I asked our host a million questions leading up to the weekend and she was full of great suggestions, including places I would’ve never found on google or tripadvisor. When you stay in a shared accomodation, you had the added bonus of local roommates that can tell you – or take you! – to the best local food. When we visited Edinburgh, our flatmates sent us straight to the local pub for dinner and offered to take us out on the town the following night, away from the tourist spots to get a more authentic taste of the city!
- They deal with unusual requests well. If you have an unexpected problem, Airbnbs offer some flexibility you can’t always get with hotels or hostels. At that recent wedding, we packed up the next day to discover the bride’s little sisters had left shoes at the house. Our lack of car meant we couldn’t deliver them, so we left them on the front porch for their mom to pick up. I sent a quick message explaining to the owner and everything worked out fine! It was so helpful to be able to make a quick plan that didn’t involve running around town trying to meet up or worrying that housekeeping might take or move them. Another time, we were in Normandy when we had some car trouble. Our Airbnb host was out of town, but he offered to send his girlfriend over so we could use her phone and gave us the address of the closest shop which sold prepaid cell phones. I know that nice hotels and hostels can offer similar help, but the level of personal care combined with the relative affordability Airbnbs offer made it all the better.
What about safety?
The main concern I’ve heard regarding Airbnbs is accuracy. How do you know that the place will be described accurately? Clean? Safe? Unlike hotels, there’s no corporate reputation at stake and (theoretically at least) regulations may not be enforced.
Here’s the truth: I have never had a bad experience staying at an Airbnb. Because Airbnbs rely so heavily on reviews, hosts often go above and beyond normal expectations to ensure their guests have a good time. I’ve shared several helpful host stories above, and they generally all have been friendly people. Many of these are their homes, and hosts keep them clean and uncluttered. Photos have always accurately represented the space, particularly in regards to the level of luxury or economy of each listing.
Beyond my personal experience, hosts are held to a clear standard: the rating system. After you finish your stay, both you and the host rate the experience. You give a star rating and given the opportunity to leave both a public review and private note to the host. As a guest, hosts’ ratings of you determine if future reservations will be accepted by other hosts. If you trash a place, other hosts won’t host you.
Hosts provide a level of personal information to Airbnb, preventing someone from fraudulently listing a location they don’t have access to. It gives the confidence that you’re not going to get screwed by a reservation.
Airbnbs offer the ability to find just the right place to stay, without worrying about typical hotel prices or having the amenities you may need. They’re definitely worth checking out, and if you sign up here you’ll receive a $40 credit towards your first stay!
Check back next week for a follow up post on how to choose the right place for you!
Have you stayed in an Airbnb? What was your experience?