Hands up who has heard of, or used airbnb before? Probably many of you, but for those that haven’t I will give you a quick lowdown. Airbnb is an online community marketplace that allows people to rent out their accommodation – single rooms in a property or an entire place – to travellers, in 191 Countries across the globe. Starting life as a hotel alternative for budget travellers, the website has evolved to offer an endless list of unusual and characterful spaces. The site has an easy to use search tool that let’s you search on available dates, location, price range and other specifics like a hot tub – because why not?
The huge variety of unique properties is what really sells the concept of airbnb to me. It has become one of my first go-to’s when booking somewhere to stay. The spaces offered range from moored yachts, canal boats, tree houses and apartments with interior inspo by the bucket load. Many of which totally blow the typical cookie cutter / bachelor pad style hotels out of the water.
So why stay in an airbnb, I hear you ask…
1. A home away from home
These cosy spaces instantly make you feel at home. There’s a level of authenticity in staying in someone’s home that you just don’t experience in a hotel. You’re essentially living like a local.
Airbnb is often (not always) cheaper than a hotel. Renting an entire property can give you bags of space for your buck when compared with the average hotel, making it a great value for money option, especially for families.
3. Kitchen facilities
Having access to a kitchen means you can be savvy with your spends by cooking the occasional breakfast/dinner, rather than eating out multiple times a day. Also how many times have you spent a lovely day wandering around a city (I’m drawn to thinking of Italy here), when you stumble upon an incredible food market; perfect, now you can actually indulge and cook up a storm in your own kitchen. Did I already say home away from home? Finally, for anyone with food intolerance’s; the struggle is real when trying to find places to eat, so this way you know exactly what is in your food.
4. Helpful hosts
I have been really lucky in that every one of the hosts I have stayed with has been truly wonderful. All super friendly and even gave advice about the local area. In Florence, I would not have made it to Siena or San Gigminano if our host Alessandra hadn’t urged me to check them out. Upon dropping our bags in Krakow, Tomasz kindly showed us around the local area and recommended some great places to eat. My favourite of all though, has to be the self-illustrated book that Giulia in Verona had made. It included a map of the city and recommendations of things to do and where to eat for every price point. It was a lovely touch, and made our stay all the more memorable.
5. Flexibility with check-in and out times
Unlike the regimented check in and out times set by hotels, many hosts tend to be more flexible. I have always managed to arrange to check-in around the time I would arrive at my destination. When you are on a city break and only have so much time to see and do everything on your list, being able to check-in and dump your bags immediately is a great luxury. Some properties now also have self check-in options which is even more convenient.
6. Long stays
When it comes to long stays, you would rack up thousands extremely quickly in your average hotels alone, whereas airbnb has some really reasonable rates for your longer than average stays.
Admittedly, like with everything, there are cons:
Prices have increased over the past couple of years and it will be interesting to see how different Countries and airbnb themselves tackle the current issues around illegal letting and landlord tax avoidance.
I did initially have reservations over the reliability and safety of booking with airbnb. I would always recommend:
- Only booking the places that have had lots of reviews: the airbnb community is brilliant for providing valuable comments. From experience they truthfully reflect the accommodation and provide further information about the location, public transport and any specific advice for do’s and don’ts for the area.
- Make sure you touch base with your host prior to your visit and have a working contact number for them (and a colleague if possible). Provide then an approximate time of arrival or flight number and keep them up to date with any delays. This will help to limit the risk of being in an unfamiliar country with an unresponsive host. I have found whatsapp to be the best form of contact as you can most always find somewhere with Wi-Fi access.
Now for my two favourite ever airbnb stays…
The Verona airbnb has got to be my favourite. The decor is shamazing and totally my bag. It incorporates rustic, retro, mid-century AND music but it’s all so effortless – you can read all about it and see more photos here.
The Florence airbnb comes in the form of this Tuscan dream suite, complete with it’s very own pool and wanderlust inducing view – again you can read about the space here.
I hope you found this helpful and I would love to hear about some of your airbnb experiences (good or bad).