Airbnb was founded in 2008, changing the way we travel by offering unique and personalized accommodation experiences that go beyond traditional hotels. Booking the right Airbnb can make or break your trip, whether you're planning a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, and I’ve heard both success and epic fail stories from those who have used Airbnb. Personally, I’ve used them a few times – in places like Lisbon, Barcelona and Seychelles - and my experiences have been good thus far, although some were better than others.
There are many advantages of using Airbnb over traditional hotels, including additional space, lower prices, kitchen and laundry facilities, and more.
Location is a critical factor when booking an Airbnb. Research the neighbourhood to ensure that it aligns with your preferences and interests. Consider proximity to public transportation, attractions, and local amenities like grocery stores and restaurants. Google Maps and Airbnb's neighbourhood guides can be helpful tools for this. I usually try to find places near the main attractions or the main transport hubs.
Once you’ve decided on your location take some time to define your travel needs and budget before you start browsing through Airbnb listings. Consider factors such as the number of guests, amenities, and the duration of your stay, and enter these parameters in the “Filters” section. Setting clear parameters will help you narrow down your options and avoid wasting time on properties that don't meet your requirements.
Use filters for price range, property type, number of bedrooms, and more. The advanced search tool allows you to refine your results further.
Personally, I always tick the “Entire Home” box too as I have no desire to share the property with the host or anyone else besides my immediate family.
Once you’ve narrowed down the list of properties you are interested in, always check the ratings and read the reviews. Take the time to read through reviews from previous guests to get a sense of what to expect. Pay attention to comments about cleanliness, host helpfulness, noise levels, and any other issues that may have arisen during their stay. A property with consistently positive reviews is generally a safer bet. If there are hundreds of reviews and you don’t have time to read them all, then check those with the lowest ratings first, to see if there are any major issues which would be a dealbreaker for you.
Effective communication with your Airbnb host is crucial for a smooth experience. Reach out to them before booking to ask any questions or clarify any doubts you may have. Clear communication can help you gauge the responsiveness and helpfulness of your host, which can be a good indicator of what to expect during your stay. This has often helped me to book the right properties. For example, on my recent trip to Budapest, I messaged my host to ask him if I could leave my bags at the property before the check-in time and he agreed.
Airbnb designates Superhosts as experienced hosts who consistently provide excellent hospitality. Staying with a Superhost can often lead to a more seamless and comfortable experience. To find Superhosts, look for the Superhost badge on listings or use the Superhost filter when searching for properties.
Don't assume that every Airbnb listing includes the same amenities. Some may offer essentials like towels, toiletries, and kitchen supplies, while others may not. Carefully review the listing's amenities section to ensure it meets your needs. If something important is missing, don't hesitate to ask the host if they can provide it.
Keep an eye out for additional fees when booking an Airbnb. Some hosts charge cleaning fees, service fees, or security deposits. Make sure you understand the total cost before confirming your reservation to avoid any surprises. The total cost is usually displayed just before finalising the reservation and is often higher than the price on the search page.
Life can be unpredictable, and your travel plans may change. Be sure to review the cancellation policy for the property you're interested in. Airbnb offers different cancellation options, from flexible to strict, and the terms can vary from one listing to another. Choose a policy that aligns with your comfort level and plans. If I am booking long before my trip, I usually choose a property with free cancellation.
Popular Airbnb listings can get booked up quickly, especially during peak travel seasons. To secure your ideal property, it's advisable to book early. However, if your travel dates are flexible, you might find better deals by adjusting your plans to accommodate the availability of your preferred Airbnb.
If you like a place but find the price too high, then ask for a discount. While not all hosts may be willing to offer discounts, many are open to negotiation. Send a polite message to the host expressing your interest in their property and explaining why you'd like a discount, and you may just get one.
Booking the perfect Airbnb requires careful planning and research, but the effort is well worth it for the memorable experiences it can provide. By defining your needs, reading reviews, communicating with hosts, and considering these essential tips, you can enhance your chances of finding the ideal Airbnb for your next adventure.
Remember to be a good guest too, as your host will also be writing a review on you.
Things you must do in South Africa
Join 50,000+ Fans