2015 was the first year I used Airbnb, and I learned a lot from the thirteen nights I spent in other people’s homes. Of eight reservations made through Airbnb this year, all but one were good, and some were amazing.
I love Airbnb because its properties are frequently:
- More centrally located
- More spacious and homey than a hotel room
- Equipped with more amenities
- Hosted by friendly locals
But even though I adore Airbnb, knowing how to use the platform can be a little daunting.
That lack of know-how led to a poor experience the first time I used it, and I’d hate for anyone else to discount the service because they weren’t sure how to get the most out of it.
So, today I’m sharing my top tips for having a great Airbnb stay.
Airbnb doesn’t yet let you sort by price or ratings. But they make up for it with filters. You can sort by basic things like number of rooms, but you can also sort by neighborhood, amenities (like hot tub!), type of property (including boat), and host language.
Some of the filters are a little out there (Want a doorman? That’s a filter!), but some of them are very useful. I select wi-fi as a required amenity and drag the price point slider down from the $1000+ range to something more reasonable. If you know you want to cook on your trip, you can search for properties with a kitchen, or if you know you’ll need to do laundry, you can check the box for washer.
Know what Superhost means
One simple way to ensure a great Airbnb experience is to stay with a Superhost. Airbnb defines Superhosts by several factors, one of my favorites being that more than 80% of their reviews are five stars, Airbnb’s highest rating. Other qualifications include quick response, experience, and a commitment to almost never canceling a booking.
Pay attention to the final price of the stay
Because of Airbnb’s service fee and host cleaning fees, sometimes the displayed nightly room rate isn’t truly accurate. A place can look cheap, but by the time you add fees, it’s more than you thought. Every time we’ve stayed in an Airbnb, it’s still been cheaper than surrounding hotels, but keep an eye on the total and check the math.
Seems obvious, but I recommend at least skimming all reviews on the host. (Not just the property — you can see all host reviews, including ones they’ve left as a guest, by clicking on their profile.) You may never know what tidbit from the reviews will jump out at you for good or for ill. Reviews are what makes the Airbnb platform go ’round, since both hosts and guests write them, so use them to make an informed decision.
Get to know the area you’re traveling to
While this tip isn’t necessary, knowing key neighborhoods can improve your stay. Once again, filters are your friend here: you can sort by neighborhood. One of the perks of using Airbnb is staying in a quieter residential area, so pick a good one.
Talk to your host
If you get the opportunity, talking to your host(s) can make the stay. We received excellent recommendations from our hosts in both Florence and Venice. When I stayed in an Airbnb for work in a remote part of North Carolina, I shared a glass of wine with my hosts and found out that one of them volunteered with the program I worked for — small world!
Most Airbnb hosts get hospitality. Why else would they welcome strangers? Take advantage of their knack for giving great advice and making conversation, and chat with them.
Be a good guest
One of my favorite things about Airbnb is the mutual trust agreement. When it works, it’s beautiful. Honor that mutual agreement by being a good guest. Follow the house rules, and if you’re feeling generous, go the extra mile and leave the place better than you found it. (Don’t forget you’ll probably get rated, too!) Airbnb hosts are usually just regular people like you, so pretend like you’re staying with a friend and act accordingly.
Check for signs of host authenticity
What I learned from our one poor experience was that I won’t stay with a host who has a lot of properties and cancellations — or is a property management company. While I’m sure some of them are fine, we went into our experience thinking we were staying at someone’s actual house, only to find out we were staying with a property management company. (There were a lot of other issues, but that was a big one!) Airbnb went above and beyond with their resolution, though, which leads me to…
If anything goes wrong, Airbnb’s customer service is stellar
I cannot say enough about how awesome Airbnb’s customer service is. From the minute we started to suspect something was wrong with our rental, Airbnb was responsive, apologetic, and friendly. In our case, we were refunded as well as given an Airbnb credit, which combined to be worth more than what we paid for the stay. Since that stay was our first one, it was what made me willing to try Airbnb again, rather than abandoning them forever. Of course, since that one time, every stay has been at least as good as a hotel, if not better, and I’m glad I gave them a second chance.
**P.S. I am not affiliated with Airbnb in any way, nor did they pay me for this post. I just like them, and had good experiences with the service this year.
What about you? Have you tried Airbnb? Love it? Hate it? Have some tips of your own? Tell me in the comments!
This is day 6 in the 12 Days of Travel on The Globe Turner. Stop by tomorrow for day 7 of #12DaysofTravel, a series of travel memories from 2015. There will be a post every day ’til Christmas!