It seems as if Airbnb is everywhere in the news lately. From the good to the bad to the ugly, everyone from congressmen to Facebook friends have an opinion on the holiday rental company- making it difficult for those who have never used the service before to know what they are getting themselves into.
As I was planning a celebratory trip with friends to the historic town of Rye in East Sussex, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give Airbnb a try. Something that always interested me about the service is that there are incredible unique properties all over the world that you can rent, often for only a fraction of the cost of a hotel. (Example: Buzzfeed put together these 27 Incredible Airbnb Locations in Europe) I don’t know about you but I would rather stay in a windmill or igloo or medieval castle over a chain hotel anyday- and Airbnb makes this possible. I thought I would put together a little guide to help those interested in booking with Airbnb, be sure to check out the amazing property I stayed in at the end of the post.
What is Airbnb?
Airbnb is a type of marketplace that connects guests with hosts. People who have spare space or an empty property can rent it out to those looking for a place to stay. Sometimes the guests and host will even interact during the stay, providing an opportunity to connect with locals all over the world.
How to Book a Property on Airbnb
Booking a property with a host on Airbnb is pretty straightforward. Once you find something you like that has space on the days you need, you can do one of two things.
1. Choose your dates, enter in your payment information, and request the booking. If the host agrees, payment will be taken and your reservation will be secured.
2. Contact the host directly and ask if the dates are available for your party as well as address any additional concerns.
This is probably the best option if you have special circumstances such as a member of the family with mobility issues or you are looking to book for a large group. If everything is good for both parties, the host will approve you to book the property and you can then add your payment details and secure your reservation.
Things to Note
1. Airbnb charges a service fee for hooking up guests and hosts.
In addition, some hosts may charge a fee for cleaning, extra guests, or currency exchange. The fee that Airbnb charges ranges from 6-12% of the subtotal of your reservation. Keep these fees in mind when you are calculating the entire cost, but they are laid out clear and simply on each listing.
2. Cancellation Policies Vary by Listing
Don’t assume that you can cancel your reservation 24 hours before the date and you will get your money back. Each host creates their own cancellation policy, so be sure to read the fine print BEFORE you make the reservation.
3. Read Reviews
One of the biggest issues people have with Airbnb is safety. The majority of properties will already have reviews from previous guests, take the time to read them so you can identify any issues that they had before you book the property. In that regard, be sure to leave a review after your stay so that other travelers can benefit from your experience. The host will also leave a review for you so that other hosts know you are someone who can be trusted to stay in their property.
Review of Airbnb: My experience
My friends and I were celebrating a special occasion and wanted to stay in a historic city in East Sussex, England. We wanted a property with character that would become as much of an experience as the celebration itself. When my first choice property didn’t work out, I came across this property in the town of Rye.
I had visited Rye before, and even wrote about it briefly in one of my very first posts on this blog. The word ‘charming’ was probably originally used to describe this quintessentially English town- Rye is a wonderland of cobble stone streets and original 15th century buildings. It is truly a time machine, where you can walk down the winding streets and go back centuries into the past.
Booking the property was (mostly) straightforward. I originally put in the wrong information and cancelled the booking so I could re-book it correctly. Now I had paid the extra Airbnb fees twice for the same stay. I emailed the customer service and a quick response let me know that they would refund the additional fee of £32 ($50) once it was approved by the host- which I honestly didn’t understand. Although I was eventually refunded, it took an entire month for them to do so. This was the only negative of the entire process, and as I said it was eventually resolved.
The property I eventually decided on was a mid Victorian cottage that had been decorated in antiques with a real Bohemian feel. Walking in, our mouths were open, absolutely amazed that we would be staying in such an incredible gem for the night.
My host was terrific. Although we never met in person, she gave clear instructions on where we could pick up the key and there was a welcome packet waiting inside with local attractions and directions for the home. It was entirely smooth sailing, and I was 1000% happy with everything from beginning to finish. (Check out the amazing pictures of the property below!)
Airbnb may be one of those places where you need to dig to find something truly special- but I honestly think it is well worth the effort for a stay in an unforgettable property. Be sure to read reviews, talk with your host about any concerns and read all the fine print before making a reservation. For me, Airbnb lived up to the hype despite the small refund hiccup and I will most definitely be using it again.
Have you used Airbnb? Leave a comment and share your experience!
P.S. If you want to stay in the same gorgeous property in Rye- you can book it here. Price for accommodation is £220 per night, but when you split it between you and all your best friends- it is incredibly affordable! I received a discount on my stay, but this had no effect on the content, my review of Airbnb, opinions or anything else in this post.