We take a look at the revolutionary renting and lodging site that gives allows you to stay in some of the best locations in over thirty four thousand cities.
Airbnb, in case you’ve missed it (airbnb.co.uk), is a revolutionary new site, offering budgeting travellers and culture vultures the chance to experience some of the most real culture in a destination- somebody’s house. You can’t get more immersed in a place than to live with a local, and Airbnb is the place where these people offer up their homes, for a price, for you to enjoy, explore and make the most of in the destination of your choice.
I lost my Airbnb virginity this year. It wasn’t painful or cringey, but actually quite refreshing and something I would recommend to any budding traveller. There are, however, some rules that I would suggest for others hoping for the same experience. Here we go..
1. Don’t expect too much
At the lower price you’re probably paying (in comparison to a big hotel), you must be realistic about what they may (or not) have to offer. For example, do not assume you will get your beds made everyday or a breakfast service. In my accommodation, there was no lovely cleaner come around to hoover and sweep, nor in fact was our bathroom a private one. However, these were never stated on the website and so, props to them, I should have never assumed.
2. Go by reviews unless you’re feeling brave
Seeing a bunch of great reviews is always a sure sign that the owners are good at what they do, and offer a brilliant service. Much like eBay, Amazon and other sites which email remind you for feedback (like, ALL the time), people often rely on the kind, or less so, words from travellers before them. If you see a bad one, don’t panic! Even the best hotels get bad reviews, so just take in account what they said, and also the hosts reply if there is one.
You may see the perfect place but there’s no reviews. Don’t be scared to email the hosts through the Airbnb website and ask a few questions. Their first language might not be yours, so tread carefully with translation, but this will give you a better flavour as to what they offer.
3. There will be rules…
Some hosts will be living in very residential areas, and so have rules set for their guests. Of course, some hotels have rules, like don’t jump in the pool after dark and under the influence of multiple Cosmopolitans and so on, but many may ask for no noise after 11pm, or no naked sunbathing etc. They may ask you only use one shelf in their fridge, and you’ll do well to remember these. After all, you’re in somebody’s home! There is no ‘hotel manager’ to complain to, or fight your case when you’ve been caught naked moonlighting in the pool, so keep any potential offensive behaviour down to a minimum.
4. Make the effort
The holiday I went on was purely for R&R purposes. Even though Rome was a 40 minute bus ride away, 6/7 days were spent mooching by the pool, so we saw quite a lot of our hosts. We were friendly and polite, and conscientious which some may find meant you weren’t ‘relaxed’… I didn’t feel this, but just bear it in mind…
You may also find that, as we did, the language you speak might not be the one they speak, so be the helpful tourist and take a little phrase book. It makes communication so much easier, and you can bet they will appreciate you made the effort!
5. Make the most of insider knowledge
A a local, your host will probably know the best transport links, restaurants, bars and other tourist destinations, so I’d recommend in addition to the pre-visit obligatory Googl-ing, do ask them for some info. Whether it’s food, wine or a waterpark, they might just know a short cut, so use that to your advantage.
This is a totally different experience than a hotel one. You are left to your own devices in regards to creating your own holiday. You’ve chosen a location that serves all the needs you require (as listed on each post i.e. pool, WiFi, en-suite etc) so all that’s left to do after arrival is to enjoy it! Quite often, you’ll find it is a home from home, and as much as hosts will want to make you feel that way, just bear in mind *whisper* that they want your good reviews, so that’s something else they’ll be thinking of!