5 Minute Read
You probably know from first-hand experience that having the right accommodation for a trip can make a big difference. And while you may be used to traditional options like hotels and hostels, have you ever thought about booking an Airbnb?
In this post, we’re sharing:
- Why Airbnb has become our go-to for vacation rentals
- Our top advice to know before booking an Airbnb
If you’ve been hesitant to try Airbnb or aren’t sure how to pick the best listing, this post is for you.
What is Airbnb?
Simply put, Airbnb allows you to rent a vacation home, apartment or room from another person through the Airbnb website or mobile app. The properties are managed by the individual (known as the “host”) and you communicate directly with this person when booking through Airbnb. For specifics, you can read the “how it works” section of the Airbnb website.
Why Would I Choose Airbnb?
Scott and I have found plenty of benefits for booking an Airbnb over a traditional accommodation. It’s become our first stop when looking for housing for an upcoming trip and here’s why:
- Price – As you know, we’re always on a budget. Typically we’re able to book Airbnbs that cost 25-50% less than the average hotel room. This largely depends on the popularity of the city in which you are staying.
Tip: Use Price filter button to only see Airbnb listings that fall within your budget.
- Availability – We’ve never had a problem finding an available Airbnb within our price range, especially if we’re booking at least six weeks in advance. Airbnb has become so popular that we’ve always found plenty of options to choose from, which can be a benefit, especially in smaller towns.
- Amenities – One of the things we love the most about booking an Airbnb is access to a kitchen. The cost of food can really add up when you travel and being able to cook your own meals is a huge cost saver.
Tip: Use the More filters button and select Kitchen under amenities to only see Airbnb listings that give you access to a kitchen. Even if you’re just renting a room, some listings allow access to the host’s kitchen.
Six Areas to Review Before Booking an Airbnb
So you’re ready to book on Airbnb? After you’ve found several listings you like, use these tips to compare each listing and find the best one for you.
At the top of each listing, click on the large photo to scroll through all the property photos. When reviewing photos:
- All Rooms/Amenities Pictured: Check to make sure photos match the description of the property as detailed in the section title, “The Space.” If you don’t see something pictured, like the bathroom or the second bedroom, that’s a warning sign. Time to move on to another listing.
- Verified Photos: Look to see if photos include “verified” text below the photo caption. This means the photos have been verified through Airbnb as legitimate photos of the property. Not all photos will be verified, but it lends credibility to the property manager if at least some of the pictures are verified.
A box with a gray bar at the top should provide details to the nightly price for each listing. To view complete and accurate pricing information:
- Input Dates: Make sure you have selected dates by using the calendar to see the correct price for a specific property. Property owners can dictate different prices based on busy tourist seasons just like hotels, so you want to make sure you’re seeing an accurate price.
Tip: Some locations provide weekly or monthly discounts. To take advantage, change your rental dates to at least a week or a month. If a discount applies, you’ll see it appear in the box.
- Service Fees, Taxes, Etc: A property manager may charge additional fees. You’ll see this noted in the box once you choose your dates. Click on the small question mark icon to learn more about the fees. In addition, certain locations may collect taxes from Airbnb listings. You may see taxes added to your total cost in the box, if this is the case.
Near the top of the listing, you’ll find an area titled “The Space.” Read this description carefully as it should provide specific details about the listing, including which areas or rooms guests have access to.
Reading through reviews is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you have a great stay. First and foremost, I never even consider listings with less than 25 reviews. I like to make sure the Airbnb listing and property owner have gone through the paces of having guests many times before we book. My process for going through the reviews section usually involves:
- Reading the most recent 10 reviews. I look for longer reviews that provide more details other than “great stay” and talk specifically about interaction with the host. The reviews can help you find out how easy the property manager is to communicate with, how they address problems and much more.
- If there is at least one negative review in the first 10, I look to see if the host has responded and how they responded. If the host’s response is anything other than an apology and an offer to correct the situation, I move on to consider other listings.
- After the first 10 reviews, if I haven’t been sold, I either continue on to read more reviews or go with another listing that has more stellar reviews.
Toward the bottom of the listing, below the reviews, you’ll see a small summary about the host (or property manager). This area can give you great insight into if you’ll have a great stay. Specifically, I check for three things:
- Is the host verified? Everyone on Airbnb must be verified before they can rent or list a property. Airbnb details their verification process here. This step helps make Airbnb a safer community for all users.
- Is the host labeled as a Superhost? If the host has a small pink and orange badge next to their photo (see below), they have been given Superhost status. A Superhost is an experienced property manager with outstanding reviews on their listings. You can read more details about Superhosts on Airbnb’s website. I try to book with Superhosts whenever possible.
- What is the host’s response rate and time? Under the host’s verification badge, you’ll see a section under the Contact Host button. I always like to see that the host’s response rate to messages is 100%, meaning they have responded to all incoming messages from potential guests. The response time is also important. I don’t like to have to wait several days for a host to respond, so it’s always a good sign if the response time says within a few hours.
The map at the bottom of the listing should give you a good idea of the property location. This is especially helpful if you’re hoping to be within walking distance of downtown or another attraction. Use the zoom in feature to see more details.
Bonus Tip – Airbnb Wish Lists
Once you’ve signed in with your Airbnb account, you can easily save multiple listings through Airbnb’s Wish List tool. Within a listing, click on the heart in the right corner of the price box. You’ll be asked to name a new Wish List and save it. From then on, you can click the heart on multiple listings and add them all to the same Wish List. You’ll be able to go back and review saved listings on your list anytime.
So, what’s your take on Airbnb? Have you used it before? Why or why not? Leave us a comment if we can help answer more of your Airbnb questions. If you’d like to book an Airbnb, use this link to get $40 off your first stay and we’ll get a $20 travel credit too for referring you!
*Airbnb has not sponsored this post in any way. We honestly just like using their service this much.