Airbnb. It’s all the rage at the moment with many travellers shunning traditional accommodation to stay in someone else’s home instead. While I’m all for collaboration and their ads are nothing short of brilliant, pulling at the heartstrings and playing the ‘live like a local card’, I still think Booking.com is a better choice.
I should start by saying I have stayed in an Airbnb apartment before. It was in Copenhagen and was nothing short of incredible. For the very reasonable price we paid, we arrived late one Friday night to an extremely modern, clean, corner apartment complete with a moose head mounted on the living room wall. It had high ceilings, floorboards, beds that went up and down so you could sleep in an array of angles and sparkling water on tap.
But getting said accommodation wasn’t so straightforward. At 3pm the day before we had nowhere to stay as the majority of hosts we had contacted had not responded. In the end we had to do a specific search for properties that accepted instant bookings. And the cons don’t stop there. I have heard nightmare stories ranging from people not being able to get into their Airbnb accommodation, to arriving and discovering they’ve been double booked and, the most recent, a 40 euro surcharge to have the key dropped off.
While the majority of the stories you hear have some resolution in the end, these aren’t the situations you want to be faced with after hours of travelling.
My main qualm with Airbnb, though, is that you have to pay upfront and this puts the traveller in a more vulnerable position. Apart from needing to have the accommodation money in advance, if something goes wrong, your cash is tied up until the situation is resolved, leaving you to have to stump up the cash for an alternate booking.
As someone who travels at least once a month, Booking.com is my first preference. Not only does it have a range of accommodation types, but you can filter your options to ‘no prepayment’ so you don’t have to pay anything upfront. This allows you to lock in a good rate and, so long as you also filter to ‘free cancellation’, you usually have until 24 hours or so before your stay to cancel the booking without penalty.
You can even book a few different options and cancel the ones you don’t want closer to the date. But be mindful that some hotels and apartments can be small businesses and, therefore, you should give them as much notice as possible. Booking accommodation this way gives you a level of flexibility that many other methods can’t. Don’t forget to diarise by when your bookings need to be cancelled or you may end up with a nasty shock!
How do you book your accommodation? Are you an Airbnb fan or do you prefer traditional hotel or booking platforms?