If you haven’t heard about Airbnb yet, then the rock you’re living under must be pretty huge. The web.20 accommodation site lets people rent out their spare accommodation, be it their living room couch, a spare room in their house, right up to whole luxury mansions. Anyone can put up a place to stay on Airbnb and anyone can choose an Airbnb place to stay. Like the rest of web2.0 it is a community, as such you can review where you stay and the accommodation owners can review you – so best be on your best behaviour.
I stayed in my first Airbnb accommodation a little over a year ago, and while at first I was a bit apprehensive, now I’ll take staying in an Airbnb property in preference to a hotel any day. Here’s 8 reasons why.
1. Stay somewhere authentic. You could wake up in almost any hotel room in the world and there’s probably nothing to indicate what country you are in. Hotel rooms are (generally) generic, clinical and lacking in personality. Airbnb rooms on the other hand are genuine authentic places. You could be staying in someone’s home, or your own apartment that’s been decorated with love. I found, particularly in Asia, many of the Airbnb hosts like to name and decorate their rooms according to specific themes, giving a totally distinctive environment to rest your head.
2. Get more for your money. Your typical hotel room is well a pretty small place, combining bedroom, living room, study and kitchenette all into small boxy room, and you get to pay a a premium for all that crampness. On the other hand Airbnb places aren’t hotel rooms, they are places that were designed for people to live long term, so we are talking spacious and full facilties. Take for example this place I stayed Taiwan. I got a studio apartment in a funky part of Town. My apartment included it’s own, kitchen, balcony, chill out space to watch TV and desk, plus laaaaarge bathroom for $50US a night. I stayed for 2 weeks and not once did I feel cramped or claustrophobic. That price is 25% of the 5 star hotel around the corner and a similar cost to a shared dorm in a hostel. I know what option I’d choose. The savings don’t just apply to apartments. A week in a resort style villa (below) was half the price of an actual resort and I’m confident I got better, more personalised service than in a resort, plus I never had to share the pool with strangers or reserve a sun lounge with a towel first thing in the morning.
3. Live like a local. The value for money of Airbnb gives you the ability to afford to stay in destinations much longer, and therefore live like a local. There’s nothing I love more than booking a few weeks in an Airbnb apartment in a new city and getting the chance to discover intimately the real personality of the destination. If you can work remotely, consider working overseas staying in an Airbnb property, do your work by day (or in day in your work’s time zone) then spend the rest of the time exploring.
I particularly like that Airbnb puts you out of the tourist bubble. That means you get the chance to converse with locals, discover a favourite little coffee shop down the road for breakfast, get your food fresh from a nearby market, maybe even host a dinner party with new friends.
4. Escape from the world and not be disturbed…. With Airbnb, you can literally escape and have no one bother you. Some places you can check in without even meeting the host. There’s no housekeeping waking you up to clean your room too early every morning. There are no-calls from reception asking if everything is ok with your stay, and no bellboys to tip for carrying your bags and no arguments with reception after getting overcharged from the mini-bar.
5. or… make new friends. As Airbnb is a community you will find many of the hosts will love to hang out with you and show you their city. This is of course entirely optional, but my Facebook friends list is filled from people I’ve met doing Airbnb. Many hosts manage multiple properties and as such can put you in touch with other travellers staying in their other places. I’ve had hosts take me out to dinner, invite me to pool parties and even go clubbing with me until 3am. These are real local people showing their favourite parts of the city and not some overhyped tourist attraction a guidebook tells you is good.
6. Stay somewhere unique. Retired airliners, caravans, boats, castles, tents and even bunkers. These are all examples of places you can stay in listed on Airbnb. A visit to the Airbnb website and you are instantly greeted with multiple flavours of structures you can stay in. If you’re looking to out do your mates by sleeping in something they couldn’t even dream of, then best make Airbnb your first port of call.
7. The hostess with the mostess. Airbnb hosts are, in my experience, damn awesome people. To give up a spare room to strangers then you’d have to be a pretty hospitable person. The fact that hosts are wanting to get a good review no doubt also increases their hospitality. I’ve had hosts drop off baskets of sweets and fruit in the mornings. I mentioned to my host in Seoul that I might want to see a baseball game, and they emailed me a match schedule and step by step instructions on how to get to the stadium and buy tickets. Others have organised cars to get me to and from the airport, or pointed out a tourist free night market (below). While in Bali they arranged for a masseuse to come to my villa. While Airbnb may appear more independent then staying at a hotel, with your Airbnb host a call or email away you will never feel abandoned and alone.
8. Return the favour. So many people love the Airbnb experience that they can’t wait to return the favour when they get back home. The best part of travelling is often meeting people from different cultures, learning about new places and bonding over common love of travelling the globe. Well by becoming an Airbnb host you can do all this without even leaving home, plus you get to make some extra cash on the side. Concerned about damage? Airbnb’s got your back with $900,000 insurance covered on every booking that Airbnb pays for.