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Hotel rooms are just hotel rooms. Boring and sterile. Let’s try something different next time you travel. You might also save money on the booking as well.
I used to travel a lot for work while I was employed in my job as an engineer. It involved frequent meetings and presentations in the client’s offices. Thankfully the company was somewhat generous regarding our travel expenses so I usually stayed in a nice hotel. After some time, however, I gradually developed a mental state when I just hated traveling, hotels, planes and everything that even resembled any of the above. It was just too much of it, an endless cycle of packing, rushing to the airport (or long highway car rides), getting to yet another hotel room and back home.
The traveling just lost the appeal for me. In retrospect I know that it was mainly because I was traveling for work – I had no input on where to travel to, what to do there and for how long. It was simply work-related activity with an occasional half day off here or there that I could use for exploring on my own.
Fortunately for me, I was able to change my lifestyle after I went the freelance way. Now my work does not involve almost any face-to-face meeting with clients. It can be sorted out by online meetings on 95 percent of cases and the occasional real-life meeting is now a welcome distraction. Moreover, I am free to choose my workplace location. No one cares where I send the emails from as long as the deadlines are met.
How does Airbnb work?
Before I started using Airbnb, I was dealing with letting agencies or the owners directly when I was looking for a longer stay rental property. It was a cumbersome and complicated process, especially when I was trying to secure a place to stay before I arrived at the destination. There were no reviews of other travelers to check.
Now, Airbnb acts as a broker between you as a guest and the property owner. You can check all the available properties in one webpage. You can ask the owner questions to check the details and the customer service. You are covered in case of any discrepancies by the Airbnb guarantee. And you get pretty sweet price on the top of all that.
This is my summary of my experience with Airbnb that I experienced as a customer since 2013:
- It provides more comfort while you are on holiday compared with hotels.
For the same price (or less) as would you pay for a hotel room, you are able to rent an apartment with a lounge and bedroom. For me it is perfect when I want to work a little during the holiday – I prefer to have the working space separated from the sleeping area.
- Airbnb is great for longer stays in a new city or a country.
I prefer to settle down for few weeks, blend in with the locals if possible, get the feel of the new place and after some time decide if I would like to stay longer. It would be just too awkward for me to live in a hotel for such a long time and the rental apartment often requires a big deposit and/or longer contract period that I am happy to accept.Here is where Airbnb shines. You can come to a new city and your apartment is waiting for you. It gives you a chance to live as a local without any contract. You stay in a fully equipped apartment that is at the same price or cheaper as a hotel room, while it is reasonably more spacious. If you like the place, you can talk to the owner and agree on better rates for a longer stay. If you do not like the place, you are free to leave to a new one that is just around the corner or in a different neighborhood or in another city altogether.
- Airbnb is awesome if you if you prefer a home over a sterile hotel room.
When you rent a whole apartment with Airbnb, you get a ready-to-move place. Just bring your clothes. Everything else is waiting for you – washing machine, iron, fridge, equipped kitchen. While I like occasional hotel breakfast, I still prefer to make my own. And it is a lot cheaper if you cook from local groceries than eating all the time in restaurants.You can opt for renting a room in a bigger apartment or house also. I have done it few times for a short stay mainly and it was perfectly fine. I got a private room, often with a bathroom that was used only by me. You can usually use the communal areas (lounge, kitchen, terrace etc) and still pay reasonable less than for a hotel room. It might not be for everyone taste but sometimes it is good to be meet some other travelers who happen to stay in the same place.
- Airbnb is great also for business travelers
There are many homes available that are perfect for work travel. Whether you’re traveling solo or with colleagues, you can choose from properties that have ready with everything you might need: workspace with wifi connection, more flexible cancellation policies or self-check-in.
- You are renting a place from its owner, not from a hotel receptionist.
The owner is directly involved in the ownership of the rental property, therefore is in his/her best interest to keep it clean and well maintained. You as a guest influence the value of the place with your reviews, therefore the majority of owners will go out of their ways to make your stay as pleasant as possible.
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There are also some things to be considered that might be seen as negatives:
- Rather steep Airbnb fees. On the top of the price that the owner is asking, you pay a 6-15% service fee every time a reservation is booked. It goes towards Airbnb’s cost of doing business and the profit.
- Sometimes strict cancellation rules. Make sure you read the rules before you commit to the reservation. While it is not in small print or something, you should be familiar with it before you pay, period.
- Some owners might be inflexible with check-in/out. It is understandable that you should not expect someone to wait for you with the keys at 2 AM when you arrive at the airport. Sometimes the keys are accessible after hours but it is better to ask beforehand. If it would be too much hassle, book a hotel room with a 24-hrs reception for a night and move to Airbnb the next day.
- Risk of the property that is not well kept. Or it is different from the photos presented on the webpage. You can eliminate this with careful consideration of the offers, checking of the reviews and your common sense. An occasional problem can be solved with the owner who is motivated by the rating system to keep the reputation of the property as high as possible. I have not come across anything major in two years that could not be rectified by the owner without escalation of the dispute to Airbnb system. I understand that some guests may have been unlucky with their choice. Hopefully, these incidents will always be in minority.
- The reservation might not be immediate. You must request the confirmation from the owner first and you might wait until it is confirmed. The owner has 24 hours to respond and it can be too much to wait if you book a trip that is too close to today’s date. In that case, you must look for ‘Instant Book’ properties. These listings do not require approval from the host before you can book them.