During our current, more than 2-year trip around the world, Airbnb has definitely become a way to find accommodation which we appreciate. But of course, not every home has been great, and this is why a careful selection is very important to make your stay pleasant.
There are countless offers on the Airbnb website and in this guide, we want to share some of our experiences to help you to find good accommodation.
Before travelling to a destination, start by researching where you would like to stay. In mega cities this is particularly important. For example, in Rio you might want to stay close to the beach and in a safe neighbourhood such as Ipanema or Copacabana.
A good location might also save you a lot on transportation costs as all major sights are close by or in walking distance. Read blogs or ask friends which neighbourhood they liked and start your search there.
Some owners state the address in the description. Also, the map tool on Airbnb shows more or less where the apartment is located. This might influence your decision.
If this will be your first time sleeping in an Airbnb, click here to receive EUR 25 discount on your first booking.
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2. Use filters
After you have decided on an area mark these neighbourhoods in filters. As there will still be several options to choose from it is important to narrow down your search by using more filters. Set yourself a budget per night. For example, we always set the selector between EUR 70 and EUR 80 and see what pops up. It is also important to compare what the market price is on your destination. Therefore, it might be worth checking on bookings.com how much a hotel room would be.
Use more filters but not too many. For example, we always tick the Wi-Fi box, the rest we leave open. For example, it might not be important to have a washer as bringing laundry to a local service could be cheaper compared to the increase in price you would pay on your rental.
3. Check the pictures carefully
Now check the list of apartments in detail. First, we look at the pictures. Are the pictures done with passion? Is the flat interior done nicely or is this just a place for the owner to earn money? We always take a very close look at the bed. Are the sheets clean, does the mattress have a mule and is the bed a good bed or something which has been put together from pallets and some foam found somewhere? Remember, the bed is the reason you are staying here if you narrow it down. Very often the size of the bed is not mentioned. Sometimes there is no picture of the bedroom at all.
Look at the windows in the picture. Are there shades to black-out the room and do the windows look sound proof? Is the bedroom located by the main street or the garden? Remember, you want to sleep here.
Sometimes, especially in South America, some hotels sell their rooms on Airbnb in order to get them sold for long stays and mostly without proper housekeeping service. When you suspect this, check on bookings.com if the property is on offer there, you might get a better deal with more services as it is a room in a hotel.
If you then find a possible option, but there is something you are suspicious about, then...
4. Contact the owner
Ask your questions and see how they respond. Do they respond in time and how do they answer? Are they ambitious and helpful or do they feel bothered? How they respond could reveal a lot about a potential host, who you may have to call upon in a difficult situation. Don’t be shy to ask again if the answer you receive is unsatisfactory.
5. Read the reviews
Reviews, ratings and stars, everything is reviewed today, and many times. But can you trust this kind of feedback? We would say yes. Of course not just a single one, but if you read three times “the apartment is centrally located”, is in a “lively neighbourhood”, “the apartment is noisy” or “we could hear the neighbours“, then you know as a light sleeper you will not get much rest. It is the sum of things that counts.
Another example is when something didn’t work out as announced. Of course, that can happen and is ok, but the important thing is how the host handled this situation. When mishaps are eliminated immediately, it’s good. And is the host caring? Did they recommend restaurants, the nearest grocery store and sights or just hand over the key?
You see, there is a lot to learn from the reviews and every little detail gives a clearer image.
6. Check the amenity list and the map
Never take the pictures for granted. If you see a coffee machine in the pictures it might not be there anymore when you arrive. But when it’s stated in the amenity list, it has to be there. Some things can also only be used against an extra fee. For example, a washing machine in the basement or the rooftop pool.
7. Still not happy?
There is no problem in being critical. You will spend some time in an Airbnb and a good nest is important. We had situations like this where we simply could not say, “yes, this is it”. For example, in Bogotá most of the Airbnb did not offer heating. We knew that the nights would be cold and so we decided to invest EUR 10 extra per night and finally stayed in a hotel.
Sometimes a hotel can also be a better option. For example, when you only stay for 3 nights, it might not make sense to go grocery shopping and invest time in getting settled in, when a hotel might offer a breakfast buffet to choose from the things you like.
In low season hotels often make very good deals including breakfast. They might be cheaper than your choice on Airbnb, as Airbnb mostly adds cleaning and administration fees.
So, make sure to invest some time researching to make your stay a pleasant one. An Airbnb stay is always a memorable stay.
In this blog post we use affiliate links. If you choose to click on one and use the services it will be free of any charge for you. We might get a little commission to support our travels. 25 % of all commissions we will donated for charity. We are researching the information given in this guide very carefully but can of course not give any warranty about the correctness as changes often happen quickly. If you experience any, we would be grateful if you would let us know and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org