I’ve been on both the hosting side and the traveler side to AirBnB. I am a huge fan. I consider my guests the closest friends I’ve never met. Hosting made me feel good about humanity – that implicit trust and standard of care. Guests leaving hostess gifts and going above and beyond the clean-up check-out expectations.
I highly recommend that everyone be a part of the AirBnB or VRBO community and help to show strangers the pervasive kindness of the world.
Here’s what to look for when booking your AirBnB, VRBO, or other villa rental:
- Star Rating & Reviews
- Superhost status is something you can look for on AirBnB. (#humblebrag I was a superhost for several quarters running when I was hosting in Denver 🙂 ) Hosts earn this by getting 5-star ratings over 80% of the time, hosting at least 10 trips per year, responding quickly with a 90% response rate, and very rarely cancelling reservations.
- It’s worth taking to time to read what other people liked or didn’t like about the place in case any of those things speak to you. Find out if there have been issues with bugs in tropical locations, if the street noise is loud at night, and that sort of thing.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your host for recommendations or anything else. I had a premade list of date nights for special occasions, a list of walkable destinations, and a list of the best restaurants to share with my guests in Denver.
- Location, Location, Location
- You’re renting a place, so you should have a good range of options for location. Think about where you want to spend your time—at the beach? Walking around exploring? Hiking a certain trail? Seeing everything? Make sure you don’t get stuck in some obscure housing development and have access to your priorities. You want to make sure you are getting a location upgrade from a hotel. I always check beach access since this is paramount for many of my trips.
- When planning a trip or researching a destination, I will oftentimes create a Google Map. If you are logged into your Google Apps (gmail) account then you can look up places, drop pins, and label them as you like. This was super helpful when I was planning my trip to Greece – for example, I learned that Crete would take me a week to explore, I couldn’t just bop around to the spots I wanted to see in one day. On Mykonos, I learned that even though my hotel was not that far from town, it would not be walkable due to winding roads and traffic. I love to discover a few local boutiques, bookshops, and cafes or coffee shops with character wherever I go, so often drop pins for spots I see so I can cluster my daily adventures and minimize the travel in-between times.
- There are even pre-made maps to do your homework for you – I used the street art Google map in Austin, TX and plan to use the Paris Sights and Attractions map this Spring. That said, I certainly don’t advocate for prescripting your entire vacation. Plenty of happenstance and getting lost make for the greatest discoveries. I like to have a handful of spots in mind and let chance take care of the rest.
- Does this look like a place you will enjoy staying? I try to look for the extra tidbits in the photos. For example, what are you next door to? Does your window have a view or is it an alley or the side of the nextdoor dwelling? What does the entry way look like – is it private and secure? Try to infer these sorts of tidbits from the photos to maximize your enjoyment and ensure clear expectations. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to message the host with any questions.
- Check for the obvious, such as a pool, hot tub, balcony, and beach access. Lots of places offer extras to enhance your stay. For example, in tropical locations, lots of places offer beach bikes, beach towels, snorkel gear, boogie boards, coolers, beach chairs, and the like. These can make packing far easier and set expectations for awesome perks.
- Also check for the details. Do you need a hair dryer? Specific kitchen equipment? Cable TV? Toiletries? All of this info is provided, so be sure to check it if you’re counting on a coffee maker, shampoo, or other specifics.
- House Rules
- If you’re looking to host some sort of an event or party at your rental, be sure to run this by the host. Many properties prohibit this in the house rules.
- Other important things to check are whether the place is pet friendly if you’re traveling with a furry friend, and smoking versus non-smoking to align with your preference. I got lots of questions about the latter as an AirBnB host in Denver, Colorado, as you might imagine.
- Actual Price
- Price comparison on AirBnB or VRBO can be a little bit trickier because while one place may have a lower per night cost, their cleaning fee or extra person fee may make it more expensive.
- All places will have a security deposit. I have never been charged anything from a security deposit, but it’s something to keep in mind, and an obvious incentive to follow the stated house rules and clean-up/check-out procedures.
- If you’re booking last minute, it doesn’t hurt to ask the host if they’re willing to waive the cleaning fee or give a deal since an empty room earns no money. However, don’t be surprised if you’re turned down. Experienced hosts have usually honed in on their price point, especially since AirBnB shares data to inform this based upon their site-wide supply and demand.
- The service fee and local taxes are set by AirBnB and local law. The host does not receive these or decide these. The host decides the per night cost, cleaning fee, extra person fee, and any long term stay or other discounts.
I think you’ll find that AirBnB is a great experience. If you encounter any troubles, reach out to AirBnB customer support as soon as possible. They don’t do willy nilly hand-outs for minor issues, but will certainly rectify any major issues.
If the place does not meet expectations, reach out to your host immediately, i.e. one time I was given a $25 discount because the place was ready an hour late. If the host does not reply within a reasonable amount of time, reach out to AirBnB. AirBnB does not deposit the booking cost into the host’s account until 24 hours after check-in, which gives the guest time to ensure that expectations are met.
Any good AirBnB stories or spots to check out? Tips to add? Share them below!