To (airbn)b Or Not
This is our initiation to the world of airbnb. At first, we were unsure about trying as this would mean we would be sharing living space with strangers. Nonetheless, I registered online so I can browse the possibilities. During the registration process, I was comforted by the security measures they put in for member verification. Airbnb asks for your information together with your facebook profile and asks you to submit a valid ID. and While a little cumbersome, it is understandable as it is to ensure safety of airbnb hosts and users. Finally, after checking out countless rooms and even more reviews, we decided to try it out during our recent travel to Europe. To avoid disappointments and miscommunications, here are my thoughts on traveling with airbnb.
1) Understand that this is not a hotel. You will be living with people who own the house. While you have complete privacy of your room, some spaces like the kitchen, dining area, and bathroom, are shared. While they are happy to have you as guest, be considerate and respectful.
2) There will be no one to help you lug your things up the stairs. This is especially important to note if you are traveling to Europe where most apartment buildings don't have elevators. Having said that, there is also no "concierge" where you can leave your thing before you catch your late flight.
3) Check-in times might be different as this also accommodates the host's schedule. Carefully read through the details before you book.
4) Most of the time, the rooms are in a residential area. This is acceptable to us as trains are fairly efficient and the areas are well connected to public transport. Set a limit as to what is acceptable travel time for you. We set the limit at 20 minutes to city center.
5) Communicate with your host. Do this to clarify any questions, also a lot helpful in gaining local tips. Make sure you coordinate arrival time clearly with the host, do well before check-in.
6) Read the guidebooks, directions, guidelines the host made. This is very helpful in planning your trip.
7) Save the local numbers of your host, in case you won't have internet access.
8) When doing the math, remember to include transportation cost to and from your airbnb room and compare it with staying within the city.
We were quite happy with our airbnb experience :) The average price of a room was around 40 euros compared to around 80 euros to 120 euros a night for a 3-star hotel. Some rooms come with a little kitchen wherein you can prepare hot meals, especially breakfast. If none, you can almost always use the microwave in the kitchen. We considered staying in hostels, but since we travel as a couple, the price of paying for two for a hostel stay where everything is shared even the rooms might be almost or more than an airbnb stay. Given the pluses of having a private room and bigger and more secure space for things we opted to go with airbnb.
Jaysen loved our room in Amsterdam. It was an easy 15-minute commute to the city-center with nice cafes around. It came with a tiny kitchen so we were able to do grocery shopping around the corner.
Our room in Brussels was huge. It was located in the third floor with steep and narrow staircase. Quite a struggle to lug up our bags :)
We noticed that the rooms in Germany are on the small side. I was instructed by Jaysen to keep my clutter at a minimum and not open all the bags. We stayed for three days or less and was out most of the time so it was okay.
This room in Prague hit all the right notes. We loved it. The room was beautiful and spacious. It was equipped with a coffee maker and a small fridge. More importantly, the tram stop is right by the doorstep. The tram will take you directly to the city center in less than ten minutes. Our hosts were lovely and very helpful as well.
This is my favorite. We stayed in the Zaandam area so we can be close to the Zaanse Schans. The neighborhood is so gorgeous with all the flowers, the canal snaking through it and the cute houses. The room was pretty nice as well, very well decorated and with thoughtful touches.
All in all, it was a great experience. Rooms were clean and close to the description written on the site. It was also enriching to meet locals and know where they hang-out what places are worth going to away from the usual tourist crowd.