This is part two of two in an Airbnb series. For part one, click here!
Are you sold on how great Airbnbs can be yet? Great! Now it’s time to book one.
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.
Choosing an Airbnb
Here’s a few things to think about when searching for an Airbnb:
Entire home vs private room: This is the first decision you should make. Basically, do you want to rent a room or the whole space? If you’re a solo traveler or with one other person and want to meet others, private room offers the chance to connect with fellow travelers or hang out with locals. I always got the best recommendations for off-the-beaten-track restaurants and things to do when staying in a private room. That being said, the luxury of having the entire home is really nice. These can still be small: in London, we stayed in a one room studio that was smaller than our bedroom at home. But it still offered a kitchenette and table and the price was lower than even cheap hotels! Getting an entire airbnb also lets groups stay together simply, with communal spaces but separate sleeping areas.
Amenities: There are tons of amenities you can look for specifically. Pool for your family vacation? Yep. Road tripping? You can look for parking on premises. Business travel? You can search for Airbnbs with work space, an iron, or pre-provided shampoo. This section is pretty self explanatory, but I would advise you to look through this section carefully: if you’re traveling abroad and you don’t check the ‘air conditioner’ box, the place you stay probably won’t have it. We learned this the hard way once or twice.
Reach out. If you’re unsure about something, you can always message the host. Once my friends and I planned a bachelorette weekend at a beach condo, but our favorite one specifically said no bachelorette parties. So we messaged her and explained that it would only be five of us for a relaxing wine-beach-giggles sort of weekend rather than a rager. Because we were up front with the host, she accepted our reservation. We had a blast and left the place in the condition we found it!
Check the map
My favorite way to search is using the map feature. To me, the biggest advantage to airbnbs is staying within walking distance to the main attractions or areas where I couldn’t afford the hotel prices. Once I input my dates, price range, and amenities, I’ll look at the map for attractions or neighborhoods worth checking out and first try the housing closest to those. Some of my favorite places have been for the views: how many times can you stay in a top-floor flat in Paris with a view of Montmartre!?!
I’ve already discussed safety and honesty when it comes to Airbnbs and their hosts in my previous post, but two other aspects of this come up when booking.
If you’re still a little unsure, search for superhosts. All hosts are vetted by Airbnb and held to a standard by continuous ratings of guests, but the superhost designation only goes to the ones that are the most reliable. They have five star reviews, respond to messages quickly, consistently get bookings, and almost never cancel. *I’ve never had a host cancel on me – only once have I even had someone not accept a reservation, and that was because they hadn’t updated their calendar for a non-airbnb conflict. I rarely search for these exclusively, but if I’m between a few options I always opt for the superhost listing.
Another feature is the instant book. Most listings require host approval before your reservation is complete; for example, hosts could refuse you if you received a poor rating for your last Airbnb stay. Instant book means that the host has waived that right and you’re automatically accepted. This is really helpful for last minute reservations.
A final thought
You often get what you pay for. Our Edinburgh shared apartment was super inexpensive and in the student part of town, so we knew we probably were staying with young adults and didn’t expect a gourmand kitchen. The place was simple, which the photos on the listing made clear. The kitchen was full (three others lived there full time) but clean, and there was clear fridge space for us. Our flatmates made sure we knew how to work the shower and the washing machine, and we wanted a local taste of life so this was perfect for us. So realize that if you’re paying for a shared room at a low price, it’s more “crashing with a friend” than “staying in a hotel” vibes.
Congratulations, you now know everything you need to plan an Airbnb trip! If you sign up here, you’ll get $40 towards your first trip!