I’ve used Airbnb several times over the past few years and have had a great experience every time. I’d like to share my experience of Airbnb and some advice on when Airbnb is a great alternative to a hotel.
First of all I should point out that I love staying in nice hotels. I generally prefer not to stay in small guest houses or hostels and if my budget allows, I will always opt for a 3 star hotel at the very least. This isn’t because I’m snobby, although I do like a nice clean room and good service (who doesn’t?!). It’s because I like my privacy. I’m not the kind of person that wants to chat to the hotel / guest house owner every morning at breakfast, I prefer to have my peace and quiet. I’ve found that in small guest houses you often feel like people know your every move whereas in a big hotel you just blend into the crowd! I’m explaining this as I know there are other people just like me and the idea of using Airbnb did worry me when I initially heard about it.
The first few times I booked accommodation with Airbnb was in Dominican Republic. I had actually booked entire apartments so privacy wasn’t an issue. Other than arranging to meet the owner at check in and departure we had total privacy for our entire stay. On these occasions we were travelling with family so having an apartment where we could stay together just made more sense than booking a hotel.
The real tough choice came when I was searching for a hotel in Dubai. I have lived in Dubai so I know the city very well and I was absolutely certain that I wanted to stay in Dubai Marina for my visit (because that’s where I used to live). The only problem was that all of the hotels in Dubai Marina are very expensive. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a hotel as I had prepared such a busy schedule for the trip. I knew that we would be out for more than 12 hours each day and having a luxury hotel room and facilities would have just been a waste of money if we had no time to enjoy it!
I decided to search Airbnb Dubai for options. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I found lots of rooms being rented in apartments. Most of them were in good locations and the reviews and photos looked good. I contacted one host and received a friendly reply so I thought I would take a chance and book it. The price per night was a quarter of the price of the hotels in the area and the location was exactly where I wanted to be. My only concern was whether or not I would feel awkward being in someone’s home while they were there. They advised that they would be home when we were arriving from the airport and sure enough they were having dinner with friends when we came knocking on their door with all our luggage! I felt weird for about 3 minutes as we entered the apartment but they were so friendly and relaxed that this feeling quickly passed. We left them to it after a brief introduction and went to our room to freshen up so we could head out for the evening. After the first day we barely bumped into each other for the whole week. We were leaving early morning and coming home late at night so we really didn’t even notice that we were in someone’s home! We finally met when it was time for us to leave at which point we said goodbye and returned our keys. It was a very pleasant stay and I was happy with my choice to save money on this trip!
Airbnb manages all the payments so you pay through the website and they release the money to the host. If there’s a problem it will be handled via Airbnb so as far as I can see the whole process is very simple. You pay a small admin fee when you book but if you calculate this into your total budget it’s not a problem at all. After your stay you can leave a review and the hosts can do the same. I don’t know if the reviews on Airbnb are entirely accurate as I do wonder how easy it would be to say something horrible about someone’s home if they were nice people but, in any case, the reviews I read for all the places I’ve stayed in have been very accurate.
My advice is to think about your budget and your ideal location and make a decision about where to stay from there. If you’re looking for a relaxing break with lots of nice facilities to enjoy then a hotel may be the best option. When I book hotels I almost always use booking.com. I like how I can view all of my bookings in one places in my online account and most of the hotels are usually flexible with cancellations and changes. This is a big plus if you want to book early without worrying about what will happen if your plans change. If however you’re travelling with a group and need an apartment, or if you’re planning a busy schedule and just need a nice place to sleep in a great location then Airbnb may be the best choice!
I’d love to hear your experiences with Airbnb too. If you haven’t tried and you’re thinking of signing up you can use my link and get £16 credit to use for your first stay, I’ll also get a credit so I will really appreciate it!