Airbnb… the best or the worst? Personally, I love them! A great way to have a different experience, save some money and feel like a local. But there are horror stories. Filthy bathrooms, bad location, or places that don’t even exist.
- Location, location, location
Pay attention. What the host considers centrally located may be quite different than what you do! Look at the map Airbnb provides to find the area. If it’s a town you don’t know well look at other maps which show landmarks. Figure out where the place is and if that is where you want to be.
- Read every review
Keep in mind what matters to you. I always look for reviews that say the photos are accurate. A helpful host is usually another good sign. Some people are impossible to please. You can tell pretty quickly if they are complaining about petty things. I ignore their reviews.
- Look at the photos
Photos that are certified by Airbnb are more reassuring. When I was going to put my Vancouver house on the site they sent a photographer to take the pictures. If a photo of the bathroom is not included it could be a red flag. I like lots photos of the actual place. I’m wary if most photos are of the neighborhood or city.
- Be Realistic
No matter how many times they say luxurious in the description, if they are only charging $50 it is not going to be the Four Seasons.
- Use the filters
You can always change them and it helps narrow down the number of listings you will be shown. If you need two bedrooms why waste your time looking at a studio.
- Read the rules
It’s possible they don’t allow something you want. I once stayed in a place that didn’t allow street shoes past the doorway. Didn’t bother me and the place was incredible but might have bothered others. I won’t stay in a place that allows smoking inside. I can always smell it and don’t like it.
- I make sure they include wifi
I often don’t have a phone plan and need to communicate at least part of my day!
- Contact the host directly
Lots of people don’t bother with this step and you can lose a place by not grabbing it right away. I find it helps with my gut feeling. I tell the host a bit about me and like hearing back. I often ask a question… is there a tub? Are there curtains to block out light in the morning? Is there a grocery shop close by? Once you start a dialogue it is polite to either take the place or let them know it’s not right for you as soon as you can.
- Check for hidden charges
Many places charge extra if there are more than a certain number of people. Some have shockingly high cleaning fees. Some take a big security deposit. You do get this back completely unless you cause any damages.
- Always pay through Airbnb
It offers both host and guest some protection from the company if things go sideways.