Airbnb is becoming an increasingly popular mode of accommodation rather than your stock standard hotel. It all started in 2007 when a couple of lads couldn’t afford their rent. It was the week San Francisco was hosting the Industrial Designers Society of America and accommodation was at premium so the boys opened up their house to three out-of-towners needing a bed for a couple of nights.
The only problem was they had no beds. Not to be deterred, they had three air mattresses so they called themselves “Airbed and Breakfast,” charging $80 a night, cooking their guests breakfast and acted as local guides.
Now with over 160,000,000 guests in 65,000 cities, in 191 countries, Airbnb is part of a huge new “shared economy” connecting individuals with surplus accommodation with those looking for a bed whether it be a room, house, tepees, caves or castles.
I like staying in Airbnb’s if we’re going somewhere for more than a couple of nights because you can get more space. We recently had two weeks in Siena while we attended language school and found a wonderful three-bedroom apartment overlooking Piazza del Campo, the main piazza in Siena. While we had more room than we needed for just the two of us it felt good. We still ate out every night as that’s one of the pleasures of being on holiday, but it was great to be able to have breakfast \in the apartment, do our laundry, make a cup of tea and chill a bottle of wine.
Airbnb accommodation is easy to peruse on-line by location and it’s easy to chat with the property host and ask questions. The booking process is straight forward as is the refunding process should you get a dud. My daughter recently rented a property in the south of France for eight nights, but it was not as described on Airbnb and they were refunded their money promptly.
So be thorough …
Here are a few tips that will help you make a good choice. Arriving at a property that is not what you imagined or without the facilities you had expected can create stress, disappointment and disruption to travel plans.
- Facilities – the six key facilities I always check for :
- air conditioning and heating
- washing machine
- reasonable kitchen
- bed configuration to suit your needs
2. Cancellation policy. Plans change so check you are comfortable and aware of the cancellation policy should you need to change your arrangements.
3. Charges for extra people. What’s their policy?
4. Check-in, check-out times. These vary from property to property so don’t assume anything.
5. Download the Airbnb app. It’s important you can communicate with your host while traveling, even if it’s to tell them you are running late to check-in as most hosts meet their guests at the property.
6. Read the reviews. Guests are asked to review the property and host after a stay. A lot of information can be gleaned from reading the reviews.