My first AirBnb experience was during my trip to Melbourne a few years back. I shared a two bedroom apartment unit in the city with the friendly female host. The apartment was in a convenient location, very clean, and the best thing of all, I paid AU$55 per night for a single occupancy in the room. Where else can I stay in a city location in Melbourne for that kind of price?
When I was planning my family trip to Europe, I realised that staying in good locations in Europe don’t come cheap. So I decided to go through AirBnB to find suitable accommodations, and I’m so glad that I did.
My way of searching an AirBnb accommodation in each city goes in this order: Location, reviews, photos. Read the reviews THOROUGHLY. I made the biggest mistake in booking an AirBnB accommodation in Singapore just by looking at the location, photographs, and first few reviews. Turns out that the real unit is nothing like the photograph, and it was very dirty and old. When I checked back on the listing and read more reviews, turns out that the host owns a few apartments in the same building, and you could get the nicer units when they are vacant (although still completely different from the photographs shown), but during peak season you will most likely be stuck with that rundown unit.
With AirBnB, you can find accommodations in good location at a cheaper price than 3-5 star hotels in the same location. There is no way that we could afford staying in a hotel around the Champs-Élysées in Paris, or had the experience of staying in a snow chalet overlooking Mount Eiger in Grindelwald, but we did all of those, thanks to AirBnB. A lot of the properties are nicely decorated and fitted with furnitures that make you feel like home.
Since there were the four of us in the trip, it made sense if we booked the whole apartment for ourselves. We met the hosts in a convenient location in the respective cities once we arrived, they helped us find the apartment and get settled, explained how things work in the unit, gave us the key and we said goodbye. Upon leaving, we left the key inside the apartment and locked the doors from outside. The procedures are very simple and they don’t have to disrupt your schedule to explore the city. AirBnB is also a good choice when travelling solo, because most hosts will have a solo rate and you could share the unit with another traveller or the host in the other room. With this type of arrangement, you need to make sure that the host and the rules suits your travelling personality. If you are someone who prefers to go “home” from a whole day of exploring to have a quiet good night sleep, it will not be a good idea to have a host who allows partying or social events inside the unit.
The good thing about staying in AirBnB in Europe is that they provide facilities that you will definitely need, such as washer & dryer, kitchen with equipments and WiFi. Laundry facilities is crucial when you’re travelling to different countries/cities on a train, because at some point you will need to wash your clothes. Kitchen is optional for me because I prefer to eat out when travelling, but it was nice to have a stove to boil some water for my instant noodles or hot beverages. Wifi is definitely needed because mobile phone data is precious in Europe.
There are some things that you be aware of when booking your accommodation in Europe. European apartments are tinier than most Australian or Indonesian apartments, that I know of. So even though they do provide enough beds for your number of guests, you should also gauge the size of the unit from the photographs, the reviews, or simply ask the host. If your family consist of tall humans like mine, it was quite claustrophobic to be in a tiny two bedroom Paris loft-style apartment, which has the size of a studio apartment in Melbourne!
When choosing your location, be aware of the surroundings. We chose an apartment right across the street from the Fire Station in Amsterdam that we did not know before. Even though it was a lovely location and a nice unit near Anne Frank House, it was still unpleasant when the Fire Brigade sound their siren, especially at night time. Some locations might be a little noisier when they are located close to the nightclubs or cafes that open till late.
Be aware of the condition of the staircases. I don’t really get tired or too out-of-breath from climbing the stairs, as long as they have decent wideness and steepness. So when I read that some of the accommodations I was booking have stairs that concern some people, it didn’t bother me. As it turns out, they are very narrow and steep, they made me feel like I was climbing a mountain enclosed with walls, and bear in mind we had our luggages too. It was a first-time experience, so I laughed it off. But on my next holiday, I will definitely ask about the stairs.
Since most AirBnB accommodations are located in residential area, and not hotel areas, there’s a chance that you might stay in less touristy but equally beautiful areas. My AirBnB in Rome was located in Trastevere, it was walking distance to Piazza Navona, but the apartment area itself is the highlight of my trip in Rome. Hosts will happily share the hidden gems around the area or the city, which is another reason to love AirBnB. You will get to experience certain things that you won’t get when staying in a hotel and relying on their concierge and travel guide books.
The most important thing is to read the reviews thoroughly and ask a lot of questions based on your needs (bringing an older person, bringing a baby or toddler, being claustrophobic, etc). But based on my experiences when staying in AirBnB in Europe, I highly recommend it for travellers, and I hope that my tips could be useful in searching for the right AirBnB for yourself!
Have you stayed in an AirBnB before? How would you describe your experience?
This post is not sponsored by AirBnB, I wrote it based on my personal experiences, and thought that they might be useful for you.
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