Now that we’ve officially entered the summer season (hurrah!) you might be thinking about treating yourself to a well-deserved getaway. Wherever you choose to go, there are a few things to consider, and none are quite as important as the question- Where am I going to stay?
Do you go for a traditional hotel? While this can be a tempting option for those who value the benefits of room service and housekeeping, there’s a downside too. Depending on your destination, hotels can be costly and eat up a big chunk of your budget, leaving less cash for all the fun you should be having while you’re away.
With more and more people turning to websites like Airbnb to book their holiday accommodation, we’ve decided to take a closer look at how it all works and how you can guarantee you pick a place that’s perfect for you.
So let’s begin with the basics. What is Airbnb? For those who still don’t know, Airbnb lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to strangers on a short term basis.
On Airbnb you can search for an entire place, which can mean anything from a small studio apartment to a full family home.
You can also opt for a private room in someone’s house or apartment. This option tends to be cheaper but will usually mean you’re sharing the kitchen, living room and other common areas with the host. For some social butterflies, this option can be the ideal choice. You’ll likely get some great sightseeing tips for the city you’re visiting and you may even make a new friend. For others, the idea of sipping your morning cup of coffee in someone else’s kitchen, making polite conversation in your pajamas, is a little off-putting. For these people, it’s entire place all the way.
There’s also the option of a shared room. These tend to pop up much less frequently, but when they do they’ll be amongst the cheapest listings in the area. If having any kind of privacy is your thing, it’s best to avoid this one.
Whatever you choose, here are a few important tips to make sure you find what you’re looking for
- Use map view. You can choose places based on price and location using the map view feature. After all, if it’s city centre sightseeing and late night bar crawls you’re after, you’re not going to want to be all the way out in the burbs.
- Check the pictures… carefully. Are there only a couple of photos? Are the photos distorted? It could be that the host is deliberately disguising the less appealing parts of their property to get more bookings. Also check for the clever use of a fish eye lens, which can make the place appear bigger than it actually is.
- Read the whole listing. It sounds obvious, but some things are easy to miss. Occasionally you’ll find somewhere listed as an entire place, only to discover in the finer details that there’s a shared lounge, or even worse, bathroom. Another thing to check is the interaction with guests section. This should give you an idea of how often you’ll be bumping into your host. Other sections to pay close attention to are the house rules, amenities and cancellation policy.
- Read the reviews. Reviews will give you the best idea of whether the host, and their property, are right for you. Hosts will only show you what they want you to see. Real, honest and impartial reviews are the best tool to get the full lowdown before you book.
- Use Google Street View. You won’t be given the exact address until after you book, but you will be able to see the general area. You can scope out the neighbourhood and take a little tour before you even arrive.
- Watch out for extra fees. Airbnb will always add a service fee (it’s how they make their money), plus it’s quite common for hosts to charge a cleaning fee to cover the cost of cleaning the space. In many parts of the world, a mandatory occupancy tax will also be added. You’ll see these additional charges under the price details section, and of course when you go to pay.
- Want confirmation immediately? Choose the Instant Book feature. Not all listings offer this choice. Many will offer Request to Book instead, which gives the host 24 hours to confirm the booking. Be aware though, once you go ahead and Request to Book, you will be charged as soon as the host confirms, so make sure you’re certain it’s the place for you.
- Found a place you love? See if you can get it cheaper elsewhere. It’s often worth doing a little detective work to check if you can get the same place at a cheaper price through a different website. Hosts will often list their properties on several booking platforms, or they may even have their contact details listed on Google so you can get in touch with them directly. Look for clues in the listing that give away the location, then do a search for holiday apartments or rooms in the same area. Remember to check the pictures to see if you have a match.
By following the above advice, you’re sure to bag a place that’ll make your holidaying dreams a reality. One more thing; don’t forget to leave an honest review after your stay. Whether it was top notch or not all it was cracked up to be, it helps both future guests and hosts and keeps the Airbnb community thriving.