Airbnb is a great way to save on travel accommodations, especially compared to old school hotels and hostels. Your room choices can range from clean and simple, to wild and unique. It’s all up to you! At KKday, we’ve rounded up the 5 things you should consider when booking an Airbnb.
1. The Price
A good rule of thumb: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. You should be equally wary of extremely cheap places as you would with the extremely expensive ones.
Seasoned traveller Sara DesPasquale offers this piece of advice: you’re looking for savings, not a steal. Use the filters on the side to narrow down your search so you only have to pay for your essentials.
Pro Tip: All transactions should be done on-site. If a host asks you to complete a transaction in cash or email payment information, look for something else immediately, and report them to Airbnb.
2. The Host
Airbnb lets guests and hosts communicate directly. Take full advantage of this by e-mailing your prospective with all your questions, especially while your deposit is still refundable.
Double check everything the host says—things like neighborhood safety, and the room description versus the pictures. The place can seem great, but if the host evades the most basic questions on e-mail, look for something else.
Pro Tip: Study the cancellation policies, since there are varying degrees of strictness. “Flexible” cancellation gives you a full refund 1 day prior to arrival. “Super Strict”, on the other hand, only gives you a 50% refund if you cancel more than 30 days prior, and no refund at all beyond that point.
3. The Description and the Pictures
It doesn’t matter if you’re just looking for the bare minimum or something fun and wild. Make sure what you see is what you get.
“Some hosts will list a couch as a bed, so make sure you scan through everything they list, and it match it up to the photos,” says Kimberly Le Sueur, a regular Airbnb user. “If they advertise a two bedroom, but you see pictures of just one bedroom and a couch, that second bedroom is probably the couch.”
Pro Tip: Beware of camera tricks and unnecessary photos of either useless details or tourist attractions. Sara DesPasquale shares, “My rule is if there are many close-up photos of minute details, I assume there is something to hide.”
4. The Neighborhood
Your understanding of ‘safe,’ ‘accessible,’ and ‘an easy commute’ may be worlds apart from your hosts, especially if you’re a new to the area. Read up on the neighborhood on Google Maps, the news, and social media to get an idea of things such as safety, noise level, and access to public transportation and tourist sights.
“We ended up in a really sketchy street in a nice part of Barcelona,” says traveller Le Sueur. “We booked an apartment in a hurry, not looking into the area too much because it was close to tourist spots. But when we got there it was in the club district with loud music until early hours of the morning.”
Pro Tip: Try looking for places known close to the university belts or the government centers, which are usually spartan, but safe and affordable. Look at places accessible by train for countries like Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and expand your neighborhood choices by availing of airport pick-up services.
5. The Reviews
In a platform that crowdsources credibility, the reviews are your best friend. Airbnb guests can rate hosts for accuracy, cleanliness, communication, and location. Compare these reviews with how your host responded to your initial questions.
Zachary Schraeder, another regular Airbnb user shares the importance of feedback from previous guests. “A low rating combined with no host response after a negative guest review would tell me that the owner doesn’t really care about the guest experience—something that’s an important part of any getaway.
Pro Tip: Compare both the star and worded reviews. Some guests don’t want to come off as rude and aren’t as straightforward with their complaints. A kind review can still have a low star rating. Read as many reviews as you can, and make the judgment call yourself.
Everyone has their preferences for their travel accommodations, and Airbnb is a great way to hunt for a good deal. Once you’ve got your lodging covered, you can spend more time enjoying your trip. Happy booking!