Thursday, May 19, 2016



      Airbnb is one of the largest accommodation providers in the world. Founded in 2008, this San Francisco-based company has properties in more than 34,000 cities in 190 countries. The popular website offers a wide range of choices that include rooms, apartments, houses, villas, and castles.

       I started using Airbnb a few years ago when looking for family stays of one week or longer in Australia. I found a number of things about Airbnb to be quite appealing: payment by credit card; a choice of cancel policies that are clearly defined; a 24-hour resolution policy for unexpected issues upon arrival. In addition, each property follows the same listing format that defines the space, amenities, prices, and a general description.

       I just recently made a two-week reservation for an apartment overlooking the Douro River in Porto, Portugal. This is our twelfth stay using Airbnb. So far we have been satisfied with our choices, however, there is always some risk involved. Here are a few things that I have learned along the way:

—It works best for stays of at least one week or when traveling  
    with a larger group. It can definitely save you money, make you
    feel like a local and provide the extra space and cooking facilities
    that will provide that “at home” feeling. However, it takes time
    and patience to use, and there is always, at a minimum, the
    Airbnb service fee if you cancel.

—Decide on your parameters (ours always include free WiFi and a
    private apartment) and then be ready to spend many hours
    perusing the website for just the right place.

—Once you find something of interest, pay particular attention to
    the total number of reviews and ratings—the more the better; 50
    or more is good. Then read them to get a feel for the place and
    pay attention to anything negative for followup. (The owner and
    renter both conduct reviews separately after each stay.)

—Add the price of cleaning and the booking fee into the nightly
    rate, so you are making an accurate comparison when looking at 
    other sites.

—Once I decide that I like a property, I have my husband do a
    review to see if I missed anything. He's good at deciding if the
    location is convenient and is partial to large windows with
    expansive views. A second opinion is always a good idea.

—There is a convenient place on the website for inquiries and
    introductions to the owner. I like to do this, and the owner will
    typically hold it for 24 hours after you express an interest.

—Look for a lot of photos and study them carefully. Many
    properties offer a dozen or more—if there are just a few, I pass
    on the property. Pictures can be deceptive, but you can also learn
    a lot from them.

—Cancellation policies vary: strict, moderate, flexible. I try to
    avoid strict, but I feel that the other two are fair. When I make
    Airbnb reservations my plans are firm, barring an emergency. 
    (For hotel stays and reservations that are easily changed, I
    typically go to or direct to the hotel website.)

—Start your search as early as possible, especially, if you are
    traveling during peak travel season.

      Having said all this, I have not always followed my own advice. Here is the website to “Studio mit Blick auf See und Berge.”
One of our favorite Airbnb finds was a chalet in the mountains of Switzerland overlooking the Thunersee. There were only two reviews (good ones), and it was perched above the town on a mountain that could mean a very steep hike to get there. However, the view was spectacular, and the owner answered every question to my satisfaction (we could ride the local bus and avoid the uphill walk). It was still a risk, but one we were glad we took.

       Another excellent place was in Sydney, Australia; it had a balcony, pleasant view, and great host. It was kind of a no-brainer, because it had more than one-hundred reviews with a five-star (best) average. Here is the website to “Central+Surrey Hills+Views.”

       In Melbourne, Australia we rented a comfortable two-bedroom apartment with a great view of the city. “Beautiful City + Park Views + Pool” with its 80+ five-star reviews can be found here.

         One of the more unusual places we rented was a studio apartment at the edge of Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. It overlooked colorful canyons and ridges that dated back 65 million years. We even had a lesson in Triassic paleontology from our delightful host, Bob. Here is                                                               the website.

      What are your experiences with Airbnb? Any favorite places to recommend?

Related My Vintage Journey blogposts:

Tapestry of Utah & Capitol Reef National Park - August 19, 2015
Anticipating a Vintage Journey to Australia - December 6, 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment