On our trip to North America in June we stayed in Airbnb apartments in all 7 cities we visited, for 30 nights in a row. In a short time, we’ve become real Airbnb experts. And big fans! In San Francisco, we also had the pleasure of visiting the very cool Airbn HQ.
For those of you who don’t know it: Airbnb is a community that easily lets you rent out your own apartment, or rent apartments from people all over the world.
We thought we’d share why we fell in love with Airbnb, and why you should try it too on your next trip (or rent out your own apartment!).
1. The local experience
In an anonymous hotel room, it’s easy to forget if you’re in Tokyo or Bratislava. Some people like that, but it won’t surprise you we prefer a local experience! In a local’s apartment, you’re surrounded by local products. There is no breakfast service, so you’ll be forced to immerse yourself in the local environment by going to the local bakery or grocery store – always a local experience!
Airbnb apartments are often located in neighborhoods where there are no hotels. In hotels we feel like “visiting” a city, after having stayed in somebody’s apartment it really feels like we’ve “lived” in the city – if only for a few days.
2. It’s much cheaper
We meet all our locals in person in their city, so traveling takes up quite a bit of our (small) budget. When we stay in a hotel, we usually pick the cheapest room that meets our minimum requirements: clean looking, and including a private bathroom. That often means: cramped and not a whole lot of atmosphere.
The apartments we rented via Airbnb in the US & Canada would be at least 3 times as expensive if they would have been hotel rooms. We paid about US$75 to US$100 a night, and stayed in rooms / apartments with a private bathroom only. You can find cheaper options.
This is where we stayed:
- New York – a great little studio in Harlem
- Toronto – A charming downtown apartment
- Montreal – A very luxurious and pleasant Rosemont apartment
- Boston – a big basement apartment in Cambridge
- Washington DC – Very cosy Mount Pleasant studio
- Los Angeles (Burbank) – Cottage behind a house in quiet area
- San Francisco – a cosy room in a very old building in chique Pacific Heights
3. The community of users
All people we’ve rented an apartment from turned out to be very friendly and helpful. There are also a lot of events organized by the local Airbnb community.
4. Their neighborhood guides
For quite a few cities Airbnb has created neighborhood guides, a great way to find out which neighborhood meets your requirements (and which cool apartments are located there). E.g. “Nightlife” in Washington DC.
5. The company
We visited the Airbnb HQ when were in San Francisco, and had a meeting with 2 very inspiring employees. Airbnb has the coolest office we’ve ever seen, a private chef who cooks an amazing variety of fresh foods every day and lots of relaxing facilities (Sanne got hit by a ping pong ball during our meeting!). The vibe at the HQ of this company is great, and that’s another reason for us to like this service.
Nothing to complain? Yes, of course no service is perfect:
The Airbnb experience process takes up more time than a regular hotel booking. This is mostly because there’s always an extra manual step before the booking is finalized: a host has to accept the booking before it goes through, and in some cases this took a few days. After you make your booking you get a number of e-mail reminders. A “normal” user probably won’t mind, but as a heavy user with 7 bookings in one month, we found the 60 e-mail reminders we received to be quite a challenge to keep up with. This can be improved!
All in all, we wholeheartedly recommend you to sign up, and book an apartment on your next foreign trip. And consider renting out your own apartment while you’re away to make it a free holiday – we did!
If you sign up, please use this link: https://www.airbnb.com/tell-a-friend?airef=avchz86128zz5. If you make a booking / rent out your apartment, we get some extra credit. Thanks!
What are your experiences with, or thoughts about Airbnb?