Airbnb has revolutionised travel accommodation, although somewhat controversially. Iceland has recently restricted Airbnb rentals as much of the rental market has switched to more profitable, short-term rentals. For travellers, especially in a group Airbnb can be quite reasonable when compared to hotel rooms and much cosier. I stayed in one in Reykjavik and honestly it was my dream house. I want to live there it was just so beautiful. We got a much better rate for a group to stay in Dublin city centre than a hotel, and I met some great hosts when I stayed in Bucharest. You can also get really unusual places to stay. Here are some quick tips for planning a smooth Airbnb trip.
Planning an Airbnb trip
How to use Airbnb
- Log on to Airbnb, register and create your profile. Airbnb does occasionally as for IDs from guests and always from hosts for verification purposes and safety. Verification and a full profile including a photo is in your interests to prove that you aren’t a nutcase. Well maybe you are but try and keep it together. The site also has some FAQs on security and safety.
- Search for a property in your desired location. Here you have some options as whether you want a room or the whole place. The map feature is extremely handy if you want to be close to a certain area. Check if there’s anything you particularly need, eg parking. You can always message the host to clarify anything you need to. Check out the photographs – are they realistic? Was the photo of the bedroom taken from the hall to make it look bigger?
- Check the host’s verification and reviews. Bear in mind new hosts won’t have many reviews, but use your common sense and if something doesn’t feel right move on. Do they reply quickly to emails? Do they update their calendar often?
- Check the cancellation policy. Just in case, you don’t know what might happen that means you can’t make your trip.
- Send in your reservation request, after which your host has 24 hours to accept it at their discretion. Or their calendar might not be up to date and the place isn’t available. If you need a last-minute place, or are a more spontaneous traveller a hostel or hotel is probably a better bet. If you don’t hear after 24 hours, the reservation is rejected and you don’t pay anything.
- If your request is accepted your credit card is charged and remember that Airbnb charges a 6-12% fee on top of the room cost. You may also be charged a cleaning fee or a deposit to cover breakages or lost keys.
- Contact your host and get their phone number (save it on your phone and don’t rely on being able to access your profile). Give them a reasonable expectation of your arrival time, out of courtesy.
When you arrive
- Let your host know you’ve arrived (if they are not there), again just a courtesy
- Be a considerate guest. This is not your home but it could well be someone else’s (at least that was the original point of Airbnb, even if it’s changed somewhat). Leave the place as you found it, keep the noise down and don’t use anything that isn’t for your use. Some hosts like to show people around and get to know them, some don’t – follow their lead.
After you leave
- Leave fair and reasonable feedback. Don’t trash someone unnecessarily in public. Don’t complain about bad choices you made (eg you were told it was far from the city centre and then complain how far it was). There is an option for private feedback too. On the flip side if it was a bad place or the host was very unhelpful don’t lie either.
If you have problems
- The place isn’t what you expected: maybe the place isn’t clean, the advert was a misrepresentation, there are pets you didn’t expect, something isn’t working, you don’t like the host (if you’re renting a room in an owner-occupied rental) etc. Contact the host and see if they can fix it. If you can’t resolve the issue directly contact Airbnb (having photographs can help) and as long as you contact the company within 24 hours of check-in you may be eligible for a refund.
- You suspect your rental isn’t legal: many cities have imposed restrictions on Airbnb rentals. It is after all having a huge impact on the local, long-term rental market. It’s not unheard of for renters to be told not to say they are using Airbnb and instead say they are an out of town cousin or friend. Again contact Airbnb directly and check out the local terms and conditions. The host will be penalised by the law but you could find yourself out on the street with no recourse.
- The host cancels your reservation at the last minute: If the host cancels your reservation, Airbnb will let you transfer your payment to a new place or refund you as long as you log into your account from a computer, not a mobile device, when requesting the refund.
- You receive a bad review: it might be justified (and there are some horror stories) and it might not be. To have your say you can respond to the host’s review publically within 14 days.