Note: This article is in no way sponsored by Airbnb or any of our hosts (past or future). The ideas expressed are solely my own based on my experience.
I get a feeling that a lot of us have already used Airbnb to book an apartment or a room whenever we travel. So I am always a bit surprised when I meet the occasional reluctant person. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. But I just thought by now anyone has tried it once.
That’s why I decided to share with you my experience with Airbnb. I’ve stayed with Airbnb five times so far and found another accommodation, but booked directly. Three of the times we booked a shared apartment (with the host) and we were surprised how well it all went. So here are the places we stayed and why we loved each of them. Plus some tips on what to pay attention:
1. New York – Shared Apartment in Williamsburg
Our most recent trip was in US, in the New York area. It started with a business trip in New Jersey and since we were there we thought we couldn’t miss seeing New York City for the first time. We expected the accommodation to be expensive and still we were caught off guard a little. Everything in Manhattan was either way too expensive or too old/dirty. So we decided to look for something in Brooklyn since we had herd it has become a hip area, with cool people and places.
After some weeks of keeping an eye on Airbnb we spotted this pretty room in an apartment not far from Manhattan, but far enough to get a decent price. For this particular trip we knew we probably needed to lower our expectation and get a shared accommodation, so here’s what I recommend for Airbnb in New York, if you’re on a budget:
- Prioritise the location since you want to be in a safe and clean neighbourhood and near Manhattan and any other NYC location you want to reach;
- All apartments are small in NYC (especially budget friendly) – so instead of focusing on the space, make sure they are clean and the host seems reliable;
- Read through all the reviews and ask your host any question related to: space sharing, house rules, transportation or any other things that are important to you in order to have a smooth stay;
- But also learn to take the reviews with a grain of salt. Someone actually complained about the noise in this apartment and it was clearly not a problem once we were there. Just pay attention to the big issues such as cleanliness and privacy.
- When sharing the apartment with the host make sure to respect their space and privacy. Give them room to use the bathroom and the common spaces after a long day at work. And follow their lead when it comes to interaction.
2. London – Small Room in Chelsea
Right before NYC we had another business trip combined with a city break, this time in London. The firs time we visited London we stayed in another Airbnb shared house, but it wasn’t available. I will detail more about it below. So since we had to look for another place we decided to look for something closer to the centre of the city.
That’s how we found this apartment in Chelsea. The location was perfect! Chelsea is so close to everything. And this place was in a new residential ensemble, very quiet and clean. The apartment was small, but the host friendly and very helpful. I would have loved it if the space had been a little cleaner. But it was all good in the end. Here’s what I’ve learned on this stay:
- Whenever you’re visiting a big city for just a few days, try to book as close to the centre as your budget allows you too. Even if you have to share the bathroom lol.
- But when you book a shared apartment and privacy is important to you, make sure you understand the setting. This apartment had a private bath, but you had to pass through shared spaces to get to it. So not to different from a shared bath after all.
- Always pay attention to check in and check out time. And make sure to discuss with your host in advance in case you can’t make it during those hours. Our host was gracious enough to help as with an early check in, but sometime exceptions can’t be made.
3. Switzerland – Beautiful Room with a Lake View
And right before our trip to London we visited my best friend in Switzerland to attend her wedding. She lives in a small village in the area called Vallee de Joux. The only hotel there was kind of rustic and expensive for our taste and budget. Plus it was more of a hostel, with the bathroom shared on the hallway. So we decided to look for something better on Airbnb and we were in luck.
We booked a private room with bathroom in a small hotel that actually looked like a house. The room was large, clean and with a gorgeous look over the lake. Nights were so quiet and made for the best sleep! My tips after this trip are:
- Again: location! While this place was very conveniently located 200 meters from a train station, it didn’t have any supermarkets nearby. We had to take the train to another village to buy water and something for breakfast. But it wasn’t a huge inconvenient. Just something to consider.
- If you rely on transportation, like we did, to get to civilisation, pay attention to distance and prices. In Switzerland public transportation is expensive. Our host have us a pass that we could use for free rides in the area.
- Another thing to keep in mind for remote locations is food. There was only one pizzeria near our Airbnb so if we were out of water of snacks that meant taking the train to the next village. So make sure to have a clear idea of what’s available and what’s not near your accommodation.
4. London – The Prettiest Ensuite in Brixton
On our first trip to London we booked one of the best Airbnb rooms we ever had. It was also the first one we booked on our own. I really didn’t have a correct view of how big London is. So I mostly based my decision on how pretty the space looked and the price.
The room was even better looking than the photos on Airbnb. We loved the clean, hip space and the big ensuite bathroom. Our host were lovely and we have access to an awesome kitchen. But if there were one thing I could change it would be the distance from the main attractions. And we didn’t even realise it until our next trip when we stayed in Chelsea. My takeaways:
- Having a clean, beautiful space to come back to every night can influence your trip. Although we wanted to be cost effective, I will always book something that I actually like getting back to.
- Respect your host and the space. I would have spent my whole time in that gorgeous kitchen with the best view over the garden. BUT it was also the space were our hosts relaxed after a long day. So make sure not to hog the space. Even if you feel right at home.
- When booking a place that’s further from the places you want to see either ask for help or do your research. Our host recommended Citymapper. This app would create the best routes from our place to anything we wanted to see. We were not that good at planning then. So we didn’t get to see a lot, but we know better now.
5. Kissamos, Crete – Perfect Spot to Explore Western Crete
When we traveled to Crete found this little Bed and Breakfast that was just perfect for our stay. While budget friendly, it looked pretty decent AND had breakfast included. So it was the perfect deal for us.
However we did not book it on Airbnb. Since it was a Bed and Breakfast we could look up the name on the internet. And were able to find the contact information and get a better deal like that. It’s not always the case, but it was worth it.
My tips after this trip are:
- Whenever possible check if you can find the B&B website and call directly. You will get a better fee that doesn’t include the Airbnb and cleaning fee.
- I never made a big deal about breakfast. However after this week, I think having breakfast included makes your life so much easier. Especially when it’s right by the sea.
- If you are renting a car (or driving at your location) check for parking. We were lucky to have enough space for that. But that’s not always the case.
- Talk to your hosts. We got the best tips from the two women at the reception. From best beaches to the most amazing restaurants, they know everything.
I really hope that this post will give you the confidence to give Airbnb a try. Whether if it’s for an apartment at the seaside, or just a room with a shared bed in New York, it’s usually an interesting experience. Make sure to read through the reviews and enjoy the stay!