When I first sat down to write this post, I was still an AirBnB skeptic. I had used it only 3 times and with varying levels of success. My first AirBnB experience warrants a post on its own. But we’ll save that for another time.
I was determined to try to get into AirBnB as I knew I would be making frequent trips to Ottawa throughout the year, and I desperately wanted to find a great spot so I didn’t have to hotel it.
(“Hotel it” – verb, meaning to stay in a hotel.)
I tried a few more times and feel like I’ve gotten savvier about booking.
After 10 years of (mostly) nice hotels, it’s not surprising I took some things for granted, so I had to re-evaluate what was most important. I traded off luggage storage and early check-in for unique neighbourhoods and free parking. I couldn’t trade off my privacy though, so I will always pay more for the whole apartment.
Here are some other tips for a successful AirBnB stay:
- Use your real picture and add some information to your profile. Some people won`t rent to new users because they like to see a tenant with a good history (5* rating) first. Help landlords get to know you & complete your profile.
- Use the filters. There are many of them and they make searching easier. Why waste your time looking at places without parking if you need parking? This is especially important if you need an accessible unit. All of my rentals have had a lot of stairs.
- Location! Check out the map view or read the reviews to see what else is close. If I’m staying in an apartment, generally I want to make my own breakfast in the morning & maybe grab dinner after work. I always look for a nearby grocery store & restaurants I can walk too.
- What you see is what you get minus 20 points. Generally, if you book a reputable hotel chain, the photos on their website are pretty darn close to the room you book. They`re all the same. When you book an apartment or a home, I consider it a little like looking at MLS listings – the real thing may not be as polished and bright as the staged photos make it look. Always consider it will be underwhelming to the photo.
- Read the reviews for clues on how comfortable the bed or couch are. Again, it’s not a hotel, so you don’t want to assume.
- Save places you like and that meet your criteria to a list so you don’t have to comb through all the listings next time you go to book.
- Privacy. If you know you don’t want to talk to anyone when you get home, then don’t even bother looking at shared accommodations.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are a guest for a reason and hosts genuinely are happy to help. They are also looking for 5* ratings so it’s not far to rate them lower for something they could’ve easily helped with if you had simply asked.
- Embrace quirkiness. There’s something fun and refreshing about mismatched cabinet doors, fire-engine red leather chairs and European showers.
- Take advantage of AirBnB for Business (if you’re booking for business). They give you a credit off your next stay and you can bill is right to a corporate card. Handy!
- Book early. The earlier you book, the better the availability and selection.
When not to use AirBnB?
In my limited experience, I have found AirBnB is awesome for longer trips or if you have a vehicle. For an overnight visit, if you are trying to maximize your time it may not be as worthwhile. If you have luggage, find out first if check-in & check-out are flexible. Otherwise, you will have to carry luggage around with you.