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What is AirBnB and How Do You Find the Best AirBnb Rental?
Let’s pretend you have been living under a rock for the last six years and you have emerged into the world just recently. You might be thinking to yourself “What is Airbnb and how do I go about finding the best Airbnb apartment?”
In the age of the peer to peer sharing economy Airbnb has arguably revolutionized travel (almost) as much as Google Maps. Gone are the days where a traveler is beholden to hotels and hostels, which had a virtual monopoly on rental units. Thanks to Airbnb rentals you can experience a new location as if living there in the comfort of your own home, giving you so much more flexibility to explore. Located in 191 countries and totaling almost 6 million listings Airbnb is virtually world-wide, and can be found just about anywhere you look.
If you are new to the whole Airbnb rental thing you might not know that Airbnb rentals can also save you a lot of money if you are traveling in a group of three or more people, and are all splitting costs for accommodations. Having an Airbnb with a kitchen can help save you a bit of your travel budget and enable you to prepare lunches on the go, and cook your own breakfasts and dinners.
Back in the heyday of Airbnb, when we were all younger and the internet seemed less dangerous, the site was truly a blessing. In many ways it still is, but its grown into a billion dollar business, and there are many out there trying to take advantage of Airbnb to make a quick buck. So let’s avoid those people by focusing on how to find the perfect Airbnb apartment.
A great Airbnb rental can go a long way towards making your trip truly awesome, and likewise a bad Airbnb apartment can be a freaking disaster. As veterans of the Airbnb rental game we have rented flats and rooms in dozens of cities and towns around the world. While most of our Airbnb rentals have been good to great, we have certainly rented our fair share of stinkers.
So, learn from our mistakes, and make sure you are always booking the best possible Airbnb rentals! Below are the top things you can do to ensure your next Airbnb apartment is the very best that it can be.
You’re welcome, happy Airbnb rentals, and happy travels friends!
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Realize What Airbnb Is (and What Airbnb is NOT)
Airbnb started as a site that let people rent out their spare room or apartment when they weren’t using it. Guests were truly that, guests. Most often you were staying in someone’s home and paying a reasonable rate to do so.
Those days are long gone. Today Airbnb functions a lot more like a business. Often times you won’t even meet the host because the check-in/out process has been streamlined and you’ll pick up and leave keys in a lock box located outside of the apartment.
So, don’t expect that your Airbnb apartment will feel like a cozy home, or that you’ll make a great connection with a host. Most rentals these days are Ikea furniture filled “homes” with very basic amenities and few personal touches. This is fine, as long as you are prepared for it.
You can always happen upon an exceptional Airbnb apartment that breaks the mold, but you shouldn’t expect this to be true.
Never Book an Airbnb Apartment that Doesn’t Have Photos of the Bathroom in the Listing
In general you should study the pictures of your prospective Airbnb rental to get an idea for the rental unit. For instance, if you notice that a photo is shot with a wide angle lens you can be sure that a room is smaller than it appears in the photo.
When studying pictures of a potential Airbnb rental pay attention to things you see, and to the things you DON’T see. This is especially true of the bathroom, which some hosts cleverly omit in their pictures.
Usually if the bathroom isn’t featured you can safely count on a crappy toilet, pun intended. Save yourself the unpleasantness of moldy showers and avoid any Airbnb apartment that isn’t proudly showing off its bathroom.
A bathroom can make or break an Airbnb rental!
Use Our Link for a Discount
If you’ve never used Airbnb before you can sign up with our invitation link and get a discount. We’ll get a credit on our account too so it’s a win/win situation. Click here to save up to $50 on your first booking!
Avoid City Centers. Stay in Local (Less Touristy) Neighborhoods
Airbnb rentals are always going to be more expensive in the main tourist centers. If you want to save on the cost of your rental, and likely find a nice place to fit your budget, make sure you check neighborhoods surrounding the main tourist attractions, but not directly in the immediate vicinity.
Staying outside of the city center has multiple benefits other than just price. You will be able to get away from the crowds of tourists, you will explore a more local and “real” area of any city you are staying in, and you will likely find better food than the common tourist menu fare.
It’s a win/win/win if you ask us. We tend to NEVER stay in city centers, and it has paid off almost everywhere we have booked an AirBnb.
Don’t Be Afraid to Contact the Host Before Booking
AirBnB provides a “contact host” button for a reason. If you have any questions, whatsoever, before booking your Airbnb rental feel free to use the contact button.
Be warned, however, that you are not able to share email addresses or telephone numbers via this messaging system before booking, and AirBnB will automatically remove and redact them from the message.
Use the Filter Functions – Especially the Home Type Option
The filter function on Airbnb can save you a lot of time. If you require multiple beds, rooms, bathrooms, etc. you can filter out any unsuitable apartments with this function.
Additionally, the Home Type option is your best friend. To be honest, this should be one of the basic requirements for users to fill out before searching for an apartment but for whatever reason Airbnb doesn’t agree. Once you’ve searched for dates and location immediately hit the “home type” button and choose whether you want to rent an entire apartment, private room, hotel room, or shared room.
There is nothing more annoying than thinking you’ve found a great deal on an apartment and then realizing it’s just a private room.
Ask for Two Sets of Keys When Traveling With Others
It’s pretty standard for Airbnb hosts to leave one set of keys for guests regardless of how many people are staying in the apartment. We’ll chalk it up to the fact that the less number of keys they hand out the less likely they are to get lost.
If you’re traveling with others it’s always a good idea to ask for a second set of keys in case you set out on your own to explore.
Ask About Amenities Before Arriving
Do you absolutely NEED a coffee maker for that morning cup? Is having a hairdryer extremely important to you? Want to make sure the kitchen is fully stocked with cooking utensils?
Don’t leave any of this to chance. Every Airbnb listing includes a list of amenities for the apartment. However, that doesn’t mean it’s accurate. If something is uber important to you, confirm that it will be in the apartment before you arrive.
Check the Wifi Reviews
If you are working remotely while traveling you know that Wi-Fi can make or break your trip.
AirBnB offers users the chance to rate amenities of a rental they stayed in, so make sure that if you need good strong WiFi you look for those ratings. Also take a look at the written reviews. If something is particularly bad (like the WiFi) chances are past guests will mention it.
Additionally, be aware that a lot of Airbnb apartment hosts around the world are trying to minimize their expenses and offering less that great WiFi seems to be a common one. We’ve stayed in a few apartments where hosts have tried to pass off portable hotspots with 3G WiFi or access to a nearby bar’s network as suitable WiFi.
Read The Reviews – Both Good and Bad
Speaking of reviews, make sure you read through as many as possible before booking an apartment. Don’t just skip to the bad reviews either. The good ones can be a treasure trove of info.
Read the bad reviews with an open mind. Some travelers are quite high maintenance and expect a five star hotel out of their budget Airbnb rental. That said, if multiple bad reviews mention the same thing over and over (for example, a mysterious bad smell for which a source can’t be located) chances are they are 100% legit.
On the flip side, good reviews can give you insight to things like a host that goes above and beyond welcoming guests, an amazing kitchen, or super comfortable beds.
Basically, do your homework and take advantage of all the info that reviews can provide.
Check The House Rules
No smoking, no parties, no pets allowed. Information like this can be found in the house rules section. Additionally, you can find out about check in/out times, security deposits, suitability for children, and whether or not you’ll have to climb stairs to get to the apartment.
Ask For a Discount
If you’re booking an apartment for an extended period of time (over one week) contact the host and ask for a discount. Even if one is automatically given, it can’t hurt to send a message over to a host.
This is especially a good idea if you are visiting a destination in the off season. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it is ALWAYS worth a shot if you want to try and save a bit of money.
Since about 99% of the time you’ll be booking an apartment when using Airbnb you can assume you won’t have the luxury of a storage room for your luggage as you do at a hotel or hostel.
So if you are arriving before check-in time or well after check-out time you should ask your host about storage. It’s hit or miss. Sometimes your host can’t accommodate your luggage before check-in time and you’ll have to lug it around town with you and sometimes they’ll allow you to leave it in the apartment before checking in while it’s being prepared for you.
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