5 Tips for Booking a Great Airbnb

Using Airbnb for the first time, or even the second time can be pretty stressful. It’s hard to know what to expect. Will the host follow through? What if we get there and it’s sketchy? Do you think we’ll have to meet them? Okay, maybe not the last one. Am I the only one who worries about meeting people? Anyway, it’s safe to say that we’ve all had a few of these thoughts before we surrender our credit card information to a few good reviews, and a profile photo of ‘Steve’.

As a lot of you know, I am a huge fan of using Airbnb for nearly all my traveling. I love the conveniences of a kitchen, a washing machine, and getting to feel like I am a part of the city. Luckily I have stayed in my fair share of Airbnbs and can shell out some solid advice when it comes to finding the best Airbnb possible. So here are my top 5 tips for booking a great Airbnb:

1. Look For a Good Response Rate

This is kind of like being hired for a job. You probably wouldn’t hire a candidate who was 30 minutes late to the interview, so why go with a host who’s chronically ‘late’. That’s basically what their response rate is telling you. Personally I wouldn’t go with any Airbnb listing that doesn’t have a 100% response rate. Hosts should be responding to every one of their inquiries, regardless if they end up booking with them or not.

I remember I had a friend once who booked an Airbnb, and the communication was terrible. Literally up until the night before she was supposed to arrive, there wasn’t any sort of instruction on what to do upon arrival. Sure enough, she showed me the Airbnb listing and the response rate was about 60%. A good response rate will tell you about the character and punctuality of your host. It almost always correlates. So, pick an Airbnb that has a fantastic response rate.

5 Tips For Booking a Great Airbnb

2. What Photos Didn’t You See

This one isn’t actually that obvious. Most of us are looking for a place that’s charming, modern, and the perfect backdrop for our Instagram photos. Don’t worry, I am too. Sometimes it’s easy to shuffle through the slideshow of photos, and not take a closer look. However, you should always make sure that no part of the home is missing in the photographs. In my experience, I find this most often happens with bathrooms. Literally the one room in the house we more than anything want to be clean, modern, and functional. If I don’t see a photo of the bathroom, I take it as a not so good sign.

If you notice you didn’t see a photo of the kitchen, bathroom, terrace, etc., do reach out to the host and ask for more photos if it’s a place you really love. Or, do move along and see other listings. Chances are, they are probably hiding something!

3. Be Realistic

I am still surprised by how many people expect to get exactly what they see in a photo. It’s kind of like an online dating profile. Most of us are quite conservative when it comes to expectations of what that person will actually look like. It’s called photoshop and knowing your angles. You bet your butt Airbnb photoshops their photos to make everything appear brighter, whiter, and larger. They also have professionals that know how to take interior photos so everything appears more spacious.

I used to be pretty unrealistic at first myself. Some of the listings actually looked like they belonged in a dang Home and Garden catalog! I couldn’t believe it when I walked in to my first Airbnb in San Francisco and I was like, “oh, this is just a regular twenty-something single girl’s apartment.” You definitely have to be a little realistic, and understand that photos will look much better on the internet. All the places I’ve chosen have still been amazing in person, but I just don’t expect that everything looks like a perfectly airbrushed model, and you shouldn’t either.

5 Tips For Booking a Great Airbnb

4. Know the Common Theme in Reviews

When you’re looking at listings, make sure you read at least a page worth of reviews. If you are particularly torn between two places, then I would suggest reading even more to make your final decision. Typically there is always a common them in reviews. It’s kind of like reading Yelp reviews. Usually if anyone has any negative comments, they are typically the same. “Great food, but slow service,” and “I loved the food, but the service wasn’t that good.” Same applies to Airbnbs.

You should read both positive and negative reviews, and decide what you’re willing to compromise on, if anything at all. Because trust me, there are Airbnbs out there that don’t have a single negative review. If the reviews are all positive, do they have a common theme? Maybe the location stands out as something everyone is raving about. Ask yourself how important that is to you. For the negative reviews, maybe you notice everyone hated the tiny bathroom. Decide if you can do with a tiny bathroom, and either book, or move on.

5. Check the Amenities

Airbnb always impresses me with how creative they are. Their site is so dang easy to navigate, and I love what they’ve done with the Amenities section. On each listing you’ll see an ‘Amenities’ area with little icons. Everything is nicely laid out and obvious so you know what you’re getting with your stay. This is super important because I know a lot of people use Airbnb because of the conveniences and amenities you can’t get with a hotel. Kitchens and washers are probably the two biggest selling points, and are located in the amenities section.

Depending on where you are traveling to, it’s always a good idea to make sure there is central heating and air conditioning. Otherwise, it could be a real disaster and a long two weeks. No one wants to be uncomfortable and I find this is often missed. Amenities that are not include have a strikethrough. It’s typical of places to have a washer, but not a dryer, so that’s something I always check for as well. A dryer is a huge bonus, especially in Europe!

5 Tips For Booking a Great Airbnb

You are now officially ready to book a freaking amazing Airbnb! Which is actually what this editorial should have been titled. Airbnb is so great for vacations of any length or destination. I hope your next Airbnb experience is great, and if you’re about to embark on your first Airbnb experience, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions.

How much do you love Airbnb?

[striped]BRANDS[/striped]

Airbnb

42 comments

  1. Personally, the idea of using an aribnb scares me to no end! The questions you mentioned at the beginning would definietly be running through my head, a lot! Personally, I don’t mind paying a little extra if it means getting to stay in a proper hotel. My favourite ones are the self-catering types, with all the amenities so basically it’s like your own little apartment. I like the privacy of a hotel room, especially if it’s in a big building. The one we booked for our Portugal trip (I know I mention it all the time, but it’s the only holiday I have booked for this year!) is a lovely little self-catering room with a balcony with an ocean view. Can’t wait! πŸ™‚ <3 xoxo

    Kay
    http://shoesandglitter.com

    1. Haha I love that you mention your Portugal trip! It’s like getting to know you and your trip, and I quite like that! It sounds like a really lovely hotel. I definitely have my moments of wanting a hotel, but usually I get such a good deal with Airbnb. Plus I like feeling like I have a ‘home’ in the city I’m visiting. I definitely still do hotels though!

  2. I LOVE AirBnb. I love spreading the word about it too because it is literally a travellers dream! This is a great post. I could so relate to the tip about the photos that you don’t see. So many times I’ve seen listings without bathroom photos and it always makes me suspicious. Those ones always automatically go on the ‘no go’ pile for me.

    I just recently introduced AirBnb to my boyfriend’s Mum. I will have to show this post to her for some tips. πŸ˜€

    Samio
    http://www.samio.co.uk/

    1. Aw thanks Samio! So glad you liked it! It’s hella sketchy when there are no bathroom photos haha. That is a no-go pile for me too! ;p

  3. These are all such great tips! I’ve never used Airbnb before, but I’ve sifted through a lot of their site. You’re totally right, you kind of have to take pictures with a grain of salt. Of course people want to put the photos of their place at its very best/brightest/cleanest/etc! This year needs to be the year I give Airbnb a go, though, so I’m keeping this list for sure. Hopefully by leaving this comment it will keep me accountable to actually try it LOL. Thanks for another super informative post, lady!

    Kathryn β€’ simplykk.com

    1. Haha you’re welcome! You should totally try it! Let me know when you do, and if you have any questions. I’ll definitely make sure you get a good one! I love helping people :).

  4. I’d imagine looking for a good response rate is key, and I love your tip on checking to see which photos are NOT there, as opposed to those that are – great advice!!

    aglassofice.com
    x

  5. I kept telling my husband that we need to try Airbnb but he’s stubborn and always says no, he wants hotel. He’s comfortable with hotel and actually enjoys the experience so I don’t think we’ll be trying Airbnb anytime soon. πŸ™

    1. Haha I totally get it! Some people just like that experience. To be honest, every once in a while I go with a hotel too because I just feel like it. However, if you’re in Europe, sometimes you can get the cheapest Airbnbs! It’s crazy! You can save so much.

  6. I loooove Airbnb and have been using them for all my travels as well, and luckily the homes we stayed in were just as described and the hosts were wonderful. I’ve definitely heard horror stories though, and they all happened with listings that had few pictures and no reviews πŸ™ Checking the hosts’ response rate is a great tip, I’ve never paid attention to that before but will from now on!

    1. That’s awesome you use Airbnb so much! Glad to hear you’ve only had good experiences too. I’ve heard some bad stories as well!

  7. Excellent tips! I’ve wanted to use a airbnb in the past but I was so intimidated by the listings. I didn’t know where to look first or what to look for. Next time I’ll just keep these tips in mind. The response time and looking for a theme in the reviews makes so much sense!

    -M

    Violet Roots || Instagram

  8. Some great tips, thanks.
    I’ve been a huge fan of Airbnb for a few years and am so hooked I can’t imagine travelling any other way. I am very clear on my parameters, always “Entire House” and my price limits. So my last trip to Africa I accidentally booked a bedroom in a home for 2 days in Pretoria. I panicked when I realized it the day I was to arrive but when I contacted the host she was so gracious and sweet about it, I decided I could suck it up for 2 nights. It was such an amazing experience. I couldn’t do it for more that that without my own bathroom but I am so glad I did!
    Anyway,
    Sometimes when I’m bored I use their site like pinterest and roam around the world looking at different places to stay. πŸ™‚

    1. Haha dang! I could only imagine how I would feel realizing that last minute! I am not totally opposed to staying with someone. Like you said, if it were any more days it would be difficult. But I think for certain short trips or other situations, it would be okay! It’s kind of nice to meet someone as well. Thanks for sharing your story! I am an Airbnb user for life at this point too. πŸ™‚

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