Most people will have now heard of Airbnb. An American company which acts as an online marketplace for people to lease and rent short term lodging. Gone are the days when we had to rely on hotels as a place to stay. The stats speak for themselves with over 4 million lodgings, across 65,000 cities in 191 countries on their accounts. Airbnb offer a range of properties, whether they be flats, houses, lodges or quirkier establishments such as yurts! You can book just one room in a house or an entire property, the variety of properties is endless.
Not only can you find Airbnb lodgings pretty much everywhere but they list properties for all budgets, whether you want a cheap basic private room, a luxury apartment, or a house big enough for 15 adults. You can easily find what you are looking for on Airbnb.
Like when searching for a hotel you just need to enter your destination, your dates and then the number of people staying into the search bar. You can then select some further filters, such as home type (entire home or private room), cost and amenities or facilities that you might want the property to have, such as a washing machine, TV or a BBQ. Your search will then give you properties in list form and also on an interactive map so you can easily see the location of your destination. A great tool if you are looking a property in a specific location such as central to things to do in a city!
When you select a property to look at you will be met with a selection of photos, a name and photo of the host (the owner of the property), information about the home, a list of amenities, house rules and terms and conditions such as check in time and cancellation policies. Essentially all the information you would need to know before booking somewhere! You will also get to see reviews of people who have previously stayed at the property, a must read to make sure that you are choosing the right place for you!
Many of the properties listed on Airbnb allow you to automatically book, like you would be able to a hotel. Although sometimes you have to check with the host if their property would be available for your chosen dates. The cost of your stay at a property will usually include a service fee and cleaning fee which is always listed clearly for you to see what you are paying for.
Hotels are comfortable and flexible and often offer the reassurance of being easy to find on a map, good check in and check out times and good locations for a variety of prices. However my experience of Airbnb properties has been just as good, if not better!
My first experience of an Airbnb was on my Hen Do in Marrakech that my friends organised, they had found that Airbnb had a far wider choice of properties, centrally located, for a good price. We were not disappointed, our host picked us up from the airport with a taxi driver and took us directly to our Riad. Here we were met with freshly made Morrocan mint tea (of which I became instantly hooked).
He then asked if there was anything we wanted to know about the area. He showed us to a local restaurant that did great authentic food with entertainment to book a table for dinner that evening. We were also shown to a local hotel/spa where we booked for ourselves in for a traditional Hamman as this was something we were keen to do whilst in Marrakech. Without our hosts insider knowledge we never would have found these places and he was able to take the time to take us to these places rather than just give us directions.
The Airbnb was basic compared to some of the lavish hotels Marrakech has to offer, but we had a five bedroomed property to ourselves with all the amenities we needed, including a roof terrace for those cool mornings. The property was authentically decorated and was by far cheaper than the hotels in the area. We could walk for 1 minute and be among the hustle and bustle of the souks.
My second experience was in Budapest, Airbnb properties are vast here and it was recommended to me that I check them out rather than a hotel. Here they have cleverly turned very small flats into the perfect little places to stay. Groups of friends have often clubbed together to buy a property and jointly host it which means there is always someone on hand if you have any problems. Our Airbnb was centrally located and ideally just over the road from a shop. We were met at the property which was easy to find and shown around and told how to use everything before being left to enjoy the property.
The flat had a bathroom, kitchen, lounge and a mezzanine bedroom, it was cosy, well decorated, clean and quirky, with everything we could have needed. Having a property where you can make meals is a quick way to save money when travelling. We like to eat out when we travel so only made breakfast at our Airbnb, but this alone can save £10-£15 a day if you would normally have a hotel breakfast! The best thing about staying in an Airbnb property is having the space to properly relax after a long day exploring. We could open a bottle of wine, put on some music and sit on the sofa. With a hotel you only have your bed and often rooms can feel cramped.
I understand the apprehension of staying in a self catered rented property without the comforts of room service, a reception and a hotel breakfast. But I think Airbnb offers such a wide range of properties that there is sure to be something to suit everyone, and the money you can save is a no brainer!
All my friends use Airbnb and I have even managed to convince my mum to book through them. If you like the sound of it use this link and you can get £24 off your first stay when you sign up. How could you say no to that!