I’m an avid user of Airbnb. I’ve stayed in Airbnbs big and small all over the world (or at least in North America and Scotland…) and I’ve found that they provide so many luxuries that you can’t find at a hotel or hostel! It bums me out that so many people are too nervous to try out Airbnb because I feel like you’re missing out on so many cool opportunities! That being said, I totally understand being apprehensive about it. I started out renting an Airbnb (entire apartment) with a friend, then alone, then staying in a single rented room with a friend… and I’m still apprehensive about staying in a single rented room alone! But these are the reasons I would 110% consider trying it out, if you haven’t already:
Firstly, the basics: Airbnbs come in all shapes and sizes. You can rent entire apartments, separate rooms, or a shared room, and you can refine your search for the style you’re looking for on the app/website. You can search by location (on a map) and you can also refine your search by price per night, and by the dates you’re looking for. When you’re browsing around you can see pictures of the place, reviews, an approximate location, a list of amenities, and an estimate for how much it would cost on your preferred dates. The app and website are both very user friendly.
You Get Connected with Locals — If you stay in a fancy hotel, usually there’s a concierge that can help you with any questions you might have, how to get a taxi or a bus, how much it would cost, what the best hidden gems are, etc. However, if you’re on a budget and staying in a lower-tier hotel (me), usually you’re left to find the answers to these questions on your own, through the magic of the internet. Sometimes it works out anyways, but I always think it’s best to have at least one person you can turn to for simple questions just to take the stress off. If you’re going to a smaller, more rural area, Airbnb hosts are often connected with the tourism industry in the area so they’ll be able to give you a hand in finding things to do, or in getting from place A to B. Usually if this is the case, it’ll be in the reviews.
You Get One-Of-A-Kind Places To Stay — This is my FAVOURITE part of Airbnb. While I do actually love the comfort of a standard hotel room, most people don’t love the cookie-cutter nature of it. When you stay in an Airbnb, it’s easy to find somewhere with a lot of character. When we stayed in Viñales we had a roof we could lounge on with the most beautiful view AND turtles hanging around, in Havana we had the most beautifully decorated apartment right in the heart of Old Havana, and in Toronto I stayed in a an eclectic and artsy apartment in a character home overlooking Trinity Bellwood’s park. Finding somewhere that FEELS like a home, but also has a ton of character is like staying in a sight to see. It’s awesome.
Cheaper Options — We all knew this was coming. This was the only reason I first stayed in an Airbnb. My friend and I were going to Toronto for a week and all of the hotels were $300+/night for that week, meanwhile an Airbnb (a one bedroom condo on the shore by the Quay) was $150. In Sofia, my Airbnb is $36/night and it’s stunning, in the city centre, with a parking space. You just don’t get the same value for money at a hotel (usually). If you’re going to certain cities (read: Dublin) Airbnb isn’t always cheaper than a hotel, so in that case it would only be the better option if you’re looking for a the Airbnb style, or usually if you’re looking to rent a single room rather than an entire apartment. The only time I ever stay in hostels are if they’re significantly cheaper than Airbnbs, or if the only Airbnbs that are left are too far off the beaten path for someone without a car.
It’s Like Renting A Suite — The only reason I would pick Airbnb over a hotel (if they’re the same price) is because you get certain amenities like a kitchen, sometimes a balcony, things that you don’t get in a standard hotel room.
Location — OK I take it back. This is another reason I would consider renting an Airbnb over a hotel. With Airbnb you can search for places on a map, so you can make sure you’re staying in a neighbourhood you love, or close to an event you’re going to. I’ve done this a number of times. For example, I got to stay in the nicest Airbnb in Trinity Bellwoods in Toronto, a neighbourhood I love, right by the Drake Hotel where I was going to see Nina Nesbitt play that evening! In Havana I got to stay in an Airbnb that overlooked the Havana Cathedral, which was a total coincidence and I had no idea before I went, but it was such a nice surprise. In Edinburgh when we were looking for a second place to stay, we just looked on the map and picked somewhere we knew would be a better fit.
Honest Reviews — I’ve never been too shocked by the state of an Airbnb because of the reviews. Hotels on the other hand often have issues of cleanliness (ahem, bed bugs) that aren’t addressed, and you might not know about them ahead of time. I like that I can read reviews when looking for an Airbnb and get a feel for the place, where it’s situated in the city, and some of the pros and cons about the place.
If you’ve never tried Airbnb but you’re curious to try it out, leave me a comment with your email and I can forward you an email that gets you $43 CAD off your first stay, (and then I get $25 off my next one!). Also feel free to email me or comment with ANY questions you may have, or if you’re looking for recommendations in a place I’ve been. Happy travelling!
Where was the nicest Airbnb you’ve ever stayed in? My favourite was probably in Vinales, or the second one we stayed in here in Edinburgh!