The popularity of Airbnb – a website for people to list, discover and book unique accommodation around the world (usually in other people’s properties) – is ever increasing. And with unique properties the world over, it is easy to understand why.
Want to stay in a tree house? Or how about in a castle, on a luxury yacht, or in a cave or tram? From the conventional to the unreal, the options and locations are endless. All you have to know is what you want. Our savvy tips on how to choose the right property will help make your next Airbnb booking a fab experience. Here are seven important factors worth considering.
1. Know whether Airbnb is for you
If you’re after the hotel experience, with 24-hour concierge, restaurants and pool within the property, along with staff for your every beck and call (not to mention someone to make your bed and change the sheets), then perhaps Airbnb is not for you.
But if you’re after a more local and authentic experience, with opportunities to discover what the ‘natives’ do for fun or where (and what) they eat, then booking accommodation through Airbnb may be just the ticket.
2. Search for the right property
Are you looking for a quirky set up in a remote, romantic location, such as this luxurious cave (yes, there is such as thing) in the Blue Mountains region of NSW? Or are you after something that’s right on the beach, or somewhere central, say, in the middle of the city?
Whatever it is, Airbnb makes it possible to choose a property as individual as you are. It’s easy to search based on location, facilities, and whether you want the whole house, a room to yourself or a shared room.
3. Check the photos – thoroughly
Make sure there are enough photos to view, so you can get an idea of the place. If the owner has not loaded good quality photos, or there aren’t enough uploaded on the listing, you should ask for more before you book. If the owner is reluctant to send you any, I’d be suspicious, and it may just be cause enough to look for another property.
4. Know the house rules and policies
Each listing on Airbnb has a section called ‘house rules’. Here you can see whether it is OK for you to have guests over, anything about ‘noise pollution’, holding parties, etc. You may also want to check these things even if the owner hasn’t mentioned them on the listing, as a way to build trust and good rapport, which is important.
While you’re at it, check the cancellation policy, as some have very flexible to strict rules.
5. Read the reviews
Read them all. Airbnb has a 360-degree review system, which means that the property owner can write a review about you too. So I also look at the person’s profile who made the review, just to make sure their review is trustworthy.
If a property has no reviews (or no positive ones), I steer clear of it.
(As an aside, the more Airbnb properties at which you behave like the ideal house guest, increases your chances of building up positive reviews, which, in turn, increases your credibility, and your chances of getting the property you want.)
6. Ask questions
If you’re unsure about anything – e.g. check-in time, how to collect keys, how to get there, things to do in the area – you can email the owner, even before you book the property. This does two things: it helps you to find the right property as well as realise whether the owner is helpful or not – because if the owner is not helpful now, they certainly won’t be when they have your money.
7. Listen to your gut
Even if you have done all the ‘right things’, and still feel dubious about a listing, don’t book it.
Have you stayed at an Airbnb property before? Or perhaps you have listed a property? What’s your side of the story?