As frequent travellers, we inevitably end up using Airbnb a lot. Although staying in a hotel can be a lot of fun, there are definitely some distinct advantages to picking an Airbnb. You’ll potentially have access to a kitchen which means you can cook for yourself, you’ll likely have more space than a hotel, you get to essentially find out what it’s like to live like a local, all while plausibly saving a fair bit of money (compared to a hotel)!
Because we are on a fair number of social media networks with quite a few followers, we tend to hear from a lot of people and one thing we’ve noticed is that there’s a definite hesitation in using Airbnb, especially from people that never have before. This isn’t surprising, I’m sure we’ve all seen multiple articles discussing rental horror stories.
We’ve actually had great deal of luck with the numerous Airbnbs we’ve rented! Therefore we decided to pass along our knowledge and a bit of the process we use to pick the best Airbnb.
So without further ado, here are the best tips and tricks we have for helping you to pick your perfect Airbnb!
1) Find your perfect location (use the integrated map)
We all know the saying - location, location, location! Nothing can ruin a vacation more quickly than being in the wrong location - which can mean added transportation costs and frustrations. If we’re in a city, we absolutely love to walk out our door and be surrounded by cafes, restaurants, parks and culture. We definitely prefer to be able to safely walk places, and this includes coming home from a restaurant after dinner. Start by doing searches for “best areas to stay” in your selected city. You’ll likely come by a lot of different blog posts telling you about the popular areas of a city, be sure to read them in depth, paying particular attention to the amenities, safety and the vibe of each neighbourhood. It’s not a bad idea to open google maps and take a look at the area, do you see you a lot of cafes and restaurants? What about green spaces? Museums? Discovering a location you love is definitely key to finding your perfect Airbnb.
We love the map feature built right into Airbnb and honestly use it to search even more than the regular listings. Be sure to put it to good use in order to make sure you end up in your preferred area!
2) Know what you like and prefer in a space
We do realize this a bit easier said than done. It does take some time to determine what you really like about a living space. Do you need a separate bedroom from the living space? What about an ensuite bath? Do you need a full kitchen or will a kitchenette suffice? Try to decide on the things you absolutely need and the things you really want. After a few misses, we now know that the amount of space doesn’t matter to us as much as being in a bright and modern apartment. We typically travel to warmer places and therefore air conditioning is almost always a requirement for us.
Lastly, make sure you know what kind of space you are after. If you want an apartment to yourself, make sure you check off “Entire Place’ under Home Type. The other options are “Private Room”, “Hotel Room”, and “Shared Room”.
3) Read the full description and list of amenities
This should go without saying but definitely make sure you read the entire description (translate it if it’s in another language). The host may have hidden some important but negative information at the bottom thinking you wouldn’t read that far. Also be sure to click on the full amenities list to see everything included in the apartment. Do they have a hair dryer? Air conditioning? A pool? All the important information should be included here so don’t skip over it. Also be sure to check out the list of bed types under sleeping arrangements. You likely don’t want to accidentally end up booking a room with two single beds if you’re a married couple.
4) Read the rules
While you’re at it, definitely don’t forget to read the rules! Hopefully there will be no major surprises but you never know what you might find there. We’ve come across places that have extremely strict (and odd) noise rules (ie. please make no noise from 2-4 PM in the afternoon), we’re by no means noisy people, but it still concerned us enough not to book it! Are you a smoker? Perhaps there are strict smoking rules for outdoor spaces. We definitely advise you to read it all before you book.
5) Ask questions and check response time
Even if the description is incredibly detailed, we always try to ask a question to the host before booking. Because we work for ourselves we require a really good internet connection, so we often ask the host to do a speed test. We’ll also ask about outlet locations (if we can’t see them in the photos) and coffee makers (you’d think that would be a given but we’ve been to so many Airbnbs without one!). Even if you can’t think of anything, perhaps ask about the location? We find asking a question in advance is a good indication of how helpful and responsive a host will be.
6) Read reviews and get a place with lots of high quality reviews
We have actually taken the gamble and booked new listings with no reviews, and thankfully it’s worked out well for us! However, we typically try to book a place with a lot of good and high quality reviews. We honestly don’t find it particularly helpful if there are only a few very short reviews (ie. “Great place!”). We always try to look for very in depth reviews discussing pros and cons of the home and the area. Be sure to read all the reviews, you might come across people mentioning a common problem with the rental. If so, did the host address it? It’s another sign of a good host if they reply to reviews, particularly when they are negative ones.
If you’re really interested in the rental, but there are no reviews, click on the host. Perhaps it’s maybe just a new listing for them but they have a lot of reviews on another listing. If so, be sure to read those as it might give you a good idea of how good the host is.
7) Look for experienced hosts
This relates to the last point, if the host is experienced they likely have a lot of reviews. But is your host a superhost? If so- this definitely should give them bonus points- it means they are very experienced and have good reviews.
8) Look for high quality photos
A lot of hosts will take standard photos of their homes on their phones with zero thought put into it. We’ve seen so many low quality photos with clutter all around, a sign of very little effort. Though definitely not always the case, good quality photos of the space is often an indication of the investment and thought that goes into the property and hosting.
9) Use filters
Once you have it narrowed down by location, price, property type and amenities, be sure to use the filter tool as well to make sure only the right properties are showing up in your search. Use it in conjunction with the map tool and you’ll really start to have it narrowed down.
10) Before booking double check the Service and Cleaning fees
Before hitting that “book” button, be sure to double check the extra fees! We have no clue how service fees work but they definitely seem to vary quite a bit (which is likely out of the control of the host). Cleaning fees are what you really need to look out for, we’ve seen some places with $20 fees and similar places with $100 fees. These fees can make a huge difference to your final price, so when we’re trying to decide between a bunch of places we always be sure to check the final prices of each. Also be aware the some cities require hosts to charge taxes and that can increase your final price quite significantly!
We hope this post helps you better navigate, narrow down and book your next vacation through Airbnb!! Are you a frequent Airbnb user and have additional tips we might have missed? Please leave a comment below!