Recently on a trip to London, I decided to try something new. I’ve constantly been hearing about Airbnb, and that it is superior to your standard hotel. After realizing how expensive a nice hotel, near all of the main sights and attractions, actually IS in London; I decided to give Airbnb a try. In this post I’ll discuss why I loved my Airbnb experience, and you will too!
For anyone who is not familiar with Airbnb, it is a service that allows everyday people to rent out their homes much like a hotel service. With Airbnb, hosts can rent out their entire home or just a single room.
Often times if someone is out of town or uses their Airbnb home as a vacation home, they will rent the entire property to you, when they are not using it. Other hosts actually do live in these homes full time, and rent only one room to you. You can filter your searches to show either of these options.
When you first access https://www.airbnb.com/, you begin with your location, dates, and number of guests.
The website offers various help guides which will provide you with information like FAQ, how Airbnb works, a place to sign up, and a place to list your home; if you wish!
Once you have entered your stay information, Airbnb will show you all of the properties available for your time period. At the top of the page as I mentioned before, you can set filters for searching to rent an entire place, or just a room. You may even be interested in renting a shared room, to save more cash. You can also set a price per night filter.
Clicking the “More Filters” button directly below the “price range slider bar”, will allow you to search for properties with various amenities.
Something I really like about the Air BnB website, is that you can see the available properties on a map. This will allow you to search for nearby sights and attractions. You will have a better idea of where you will be staying in relation to the things you’d like to do.
On the left, you can see the available properties in a list format. However, if you click one of those properties, it will automatically be highlighted on the map! Similarly, if you click on a property on the map, it will highlight in the list on the left.
Once you have selected the property you’d like to stay in, clicking on it will allow you to read about the host and their policies, the property, the neighborhood, pictures of the property, reviews, and most importantly a “booking request” feature.
The “booking request” feature allows you to formally request a reservation from your host. Be sure to read the policies and details though! Our host required any new users of Airbnb to send her an email with information about ourselves before we could be approved.
After booking our room, I communicated with our host over email before we arrived. We discussed my arrival time and the check-in process. Since I was arriving at an ideal time (3:00 PM), it went very smoothly. She was very helpful in giving us walking directions from the nearest tube station, a description of the building and nearby landmarks, and gave us directions on what to do once we arrived.
Once we arrived, we rang the buzzer and she came down to meet us. She gave us a quick tour, asked about our travels and whether or not we had been to London before. She was very friendly and kindly offered us anything we wanted from the kitchen. (Oatmeal, Cereal, other breakfast items, fridge space, you name it.) The property had two bedrooms, a water closet, and a shower/sink room upstairs. One bedroom was ours, and one was occupied by another Airbnb guest; the water closet and sink/shower room to be shared. The host had a separate room downstairs, off of the kitchen, where she resided.
Our room was exactly as pictured online, and had a very nice breeze. Our host included maps, guidebooks, and other helpful items about London.
I’d say the largest benefit was staying with a local, who could give us advice on things to do/see and places to eat that weren’t “touristy”.
We even had a small mishap with Google Maps and she was able to give us walking directions to Big Ben that took 5 minutes, while Google Maps was telling us an hour.
Some other Pro’s of Airbnb is that as a company, they have many policies in place that are meant to protect both the host and the guest. For example, Airbnb requires ID verification for hosts, and offers a 24/7 customer support line to all Airbnb customers. Airbnb also includes a messaging service so that you do not have to give the hosts your personal information. Though once we arrived, it was much easier to swap phone numbers!
The only con I can think of, is that some people may not be comfortable staying in someone’s home that they don’t know; or may not be comfortable sharing the bathroom facilities with another Airbnb guest. (A second guest was not directly listed online, but then again I did not book an “entire residence” property.)
In addition to the website, Airbnb also has an app that is capable of performing the same functions as the website.
Downloading the App was really helpful, because I was able to view my itinerary, property information, and access my messages to my host!
Overall, I highly recommend using Airbnb on your next trip. It is a cheaper way to stay in a central location, and comes with a bit of insight from a local; and peace of mind.