How to pick up the best AirBnB?

How to pick up the best AirBnB?

Last winter I completed a journey around the world. If you followed my adventures, you are aware that I was staying mainly in so-called AirBnB. As many people are looking for reviews and impressions I’ve decided to share my experiences of all AirBnB I stayed at. The overall impression is positive so you might find this review biased but I assure you that this is not s sponsored post nor the content was any other way influenced by a host involved. I don’t feel like an expert in AirBnB but I have few tricks that will help you if you’re looking for one.

To all who has no idea what AirBnB stands for: it is an alternative accommodation in apartments of houses provided by the locals. There is a variety of types of accommodation, but this should create a sort of ‘home-like’ atmosphere.

What I like the most about AirBnB is the connection with a place through the people you’re staying with. I absolutely love it! Also, the feeling that the accommodation is as close to the ‘normal’ home as possible. And last, but not least, kitchen facilities (when available), so not only you save the money on dining out, but this is also a great opportunity to share time with your hosts. I found AirBnB accommodation most helpful in long term traveling, when after few weeks you just start hating the hotels.

It was a lifesaving strategy in my RTW trip! Bearing this in mind, here are 6 rules on how to pick up the best AirBnB.

Rule 1: read the description & watch the pictures

In all cases, the description and pictures were highly relevant. There was not even one apartment I was surprised about when I entered. The number of rooms, bathrooms and all the facilities was always correct. Thus, I urge you to read the description and stick to the information provided. I met some people who, despite reading the description, they are sometimes hoping for more. It is not fair and, at the end of the day, you might find yourself disappointed.

Rule 2: room is always cheaper than the whole apartment

If you are looking to save your money, narrow down the research engine on Air BnB site to ‘Private Rooms’. Do not include ‘Entire Place’ as this is always a more expensive version. I used them all: a room with shared bathroom, a room with ensuite bathroom, whole apartment and a separate house in the garden. Out of my experience, the choice should be influenced by the purpose of your visit. If you are focused on ‘living like a local’ I would encourage you to share the apartment with the owners. If you are planning more private stay focused on relax, reading books and solitude go for the apartment on your own.

I enjoyed staying at AirBnB at Cook Islands immensely!

I enjoyed staying at AirBnB at Cook Islands immensely!

Rule 3: check ‘interaction with guests’

AirBnB service allows you to ask about the type of interactions with the guests preferred by the hosts. I consider this to be crucial in picking up the right place for you. There is a whole variety within this option: starting with interaction limited to ‘online’ one in Japan, through ‘casual’ in Pacific Islands, up to ‘we will treat you like a family member’ in New Zealand. Each of them is great, but it is crucial for you to know in advance so you could make a good decision you’ll be happy with. I personally enjoyed one of my stays in New Zealand where the owners not only had a dinner with me every evening and let me meet their family but also took me to their yacht so I could meet their friends. It was great that they were very clear about their attitude from the very beginning and I was happy about it at the stage of picking up a place to stay.

Rule 4: fix the details BEFORE you pay

Here is one is a bit negative experience I had, but it was due to the fault of us as guests. We rented an apartment in 4 friends in Greece and it was not clear how much is the stay of the third and the fourth person. We assumed, wrongly, that the total price for 2 people staying in the apartment will  not double when 4 people will stay. How silly of us! And at the end of the day, we had to pay some extra money we were not prepared to. Make sure you’re clear about the number of people who are coming. It sometimes does not influence the total price and sometimes it does.

Rule 5: read the comments

Always read the comments of previous users! Always! And also, leave a comment as precise and clear as you can. While usually people are honest about their apartment and their expectations regarding their guests’ behavior, there is a slight chance that it is their wishful thinking rather than a reality. Slight. Thus, make sure that a place that you wish to rent is suitable for you by reading comments. I had only one case when I was not happy about my stay in AirBnB and it was due to the owner’s meddling. There was no way to know about it in advance because as few as 3 reviews and it was a risk to rent it. I hope that my comment will help others to be prepared for these sort of issues. Remember: the more comments there are, the less risky the choice is.

Rule 6: make an effort to introducing yourself

As the AirBnB hosts can reject your request for staying with them, make sure the description of your journey and the purpose of your visit is clearly stated. If you are staying in a place to attend a music festival and will come back home at 4 a.m. every day be honest about it! Searching AirBnB is like matchmaking: you need to find a good partner. Otherwise, this will not work! Perhaps the owner goes to this very same festival too, and he or she can even give you a lift. But you’ll never know if you don’t ask. Thus, prepare a short but very clear message and send it before you book a place.

Disclosure: All impressions are my own. I stayed at 8 AirBnB accommodations so far and I highly recommend you to try this! I stayed in the USA, Cook Islands, Greece, New Zealand and Japan using this service. This is NOT a sponsored post.

About the author

I get easily fascinated with people and places. I am passionately curious. I get often seduced with the beauty of nature. Blue sky, pure water, white snow and endless horizon seams to be enough to make me happy.

View all articles by Agata Mleczko
  • Great tips! We’ve been using Airbnb a lot and, based on our experience, reading the references is incredibly important even though sometimes you have to remember that they are personal and that what someone might find amazing it might not be the same for you.

    • True! It sometimes is difficult to know whether it is personal or genuine. This is also the reason why people should be very specific in terms of their complaints. I remember one negative comment on TripAdvisor I found few years ago: a tourist complaint on the absence of the elevator. Now, for an elderly person with large suitcase it is a problem but for a young backpacker it is much less so. Thus, it is very important to be specific.

  • Wanderlust Marriage

    Great tips for using the service! We made the mistake as hosts the first time not to ask what the purpose of a week long stay in Dublin was. We had a couple looking to move to Dublin and used our home as an office to look for apartments and jobs, which they hadn’t lined up ahead of time. Their situation was stressful to us because they were home constantly and the energy was negative because they were having a hard time with things, and then it sucked to be in a situation where we had to ask them to leave after the week ended. It was a lesson learned to also communicate as hosts ahead of time for longer stays….After that experience, we only wanted travellers, not people moving to the city with absolutely nothing lined up. So yes, communication is key on both ends!

    • I agree: communication is crucial. And I really wish to encourage people about being honest about their needs. This is so helpful!

  • Sophie’s World

    I’ve only used AirBNB once, in London, but I’ve been meaning to try them again. Good tips here. :)

    • Sophie, you should try it again! And soon!

  • I’ve used Airbnb for all of my previous travels, and I haven’t encountered a regrettable experience yet. Thanks for sharing some useful tips. I find it extremely helpful to initiate communication with the host. It often gives me the chance to get to know the person before arriving at their doorstep and, of course, vice versa.

    Keep the tips coming! I’ll be back for sure :)

    • Yes, I totally agree with you. Telling the others about your needs is very important in general, and in the case of AirBnB in particular. Thanks for your comment and please, do come back!