AirBnB: The Good, The Bad, and Lessons for Next Time

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AirBnB: The Good, The Bad, and Lessons for Next Time

AirBnB: The Good, The Bad, and Lessons for Next Time

I am still in vacation mode. I just got back from a very fun road trip where I stayed in zero hotels. Instead, my boyfriend Brent and I used AirBnB, a service that allows people to violate their leases in a number of different ways!

AirBnB is a really cool idea. Instead of hotels, people list either a room in their house or an entire apartment. But, unlike hotels, you end up dealing with the idiosyncrasies of people who want to make a little money on the side. Overall, I liked it, and I would do it again, but I’d do a few things very differently.

The Good

The people who rent out their homes to perfect strangers are very nice. That makes sense. There’s a lot of trust on both sides of this arrangement.

You stay in people’s homes. They don’t even lock up the booze!

We met only one of the three hosts. She had a loft, with a bedroom and a huge bathroom, with a giant bathtub. There was no kitchen, which was fine (and advertised).

In fact, all three places we stayed were exactly as advertised. Quiet and clean. Some had little snacks, some had coffee. Every place was in a fun neighborhood, which was perfect. We explored places we had no real reason to get to know, which was so fun! In Victoria, we found a neighborhood filled with coffee shops, organic food, and old people. It was on Cook Street, Cait. Don’t know the name.

Prices were less than hotels, sometimes significantly so.

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The Bad

Nudity. Nekkid pictures were on two out of the three places, and they were all over the third place. If you’re new here, I am a prudish grandmother, so this bothered me more than it bothered Brent.

Cleanliness was sometimes less than what I’d do for strangers, but nothing was super gross, although Brent did ask once if I wanted flip flops for the shower.

Lessons for Next Time

AirBnB is not a hotel. It is a website. A conduit between people who want to stay in places and people who have places. You don’t actually want to book rooms until you talk to someone.

AirBnB charges a booking fee. What does this mean? It means that you pay $12 a night even if you back out of your reservation. So, ask the important questions before booking. The important questions include: Is there a kitchen? Is the room really an apartment? Will you have time to clean the place? How close is it to public transportation? To downtown?

Read ads. Carefully. Notice what they’re not saying by having only a few pictures.

Would I use AirBnB Again?

Yes, absolutely. But not the same way I did before. I’ll really check the neighborhoods, scour the reviews, look at the pictures, read the descriptions, and if there’s some sort of discrepancy, I’ll send an email.

And you know what? I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough to stay with a stranger.

Never say never, right? But it was strange enough to be around someone else’s stuff, let alone be a guest in their home.

 

52 comments

  • I don't know if I'm ready to use this service, but it's an interesting idea to keep in mind as an option. Thanks for the review.

  • Hey thanks for this recap! I plan on using Airbnb at some point in the future, and the points you make are really good ones.

  • I have been curious about AirB&B for a while. This is a good information. I am a little surprised about the pictures because some (if not most) guests would find it offensive. I presume we ar enot talking about fine art!

  • Glad you are back! Sounds like a fun trip and I do want to use AirBnB eventually.

  • We're on the other side of the deal–we've got a self-contained apartment in our home that we rent on a short-term basis (1 week to 2 months) to vacationers, relocators, etc. Nice to have the extra cash, but sharing one's home with strangers is less than ideal. Some leave the place clean and some are total pigs! We have met some very cool people and have never yet had a really bad tenant. We haven't advertised on AirBnB, opting instead of free Craigslist and Kijiji listings. With these, we get a 50% annual occupancy, which is our goal.

  • I really like Airbnb. I have only used it once but it went well.

  • I'm confused about how naked pictures tie in but I guess you had to be there. Sounds interesting. Glad you had fun!

  • Whaaat?? Why naked pictures? Weird. I would try Air bnb,but I don't think the Mrs. cares for it. I'll check with her.

  • Um, I'm with everyone else on the naked pictures. It might have been enough for me to jump for a hotel. :P This whole concept seems like a great idea. Didn't they get sued not too long ago by the state of NY? Or some hotel in NY? Something about the properties not having the proper licenses to charge a nightly rate…

  • I love the idea of AirBnB but I just can't get past staying with people I don't know. That being said, I love B&Bs and I can see how it's kind of the same thing for innkeepers who also live in the facilities they manage. Thanks for sharing your experience. Would love to know more about the people who didn't think to hide naked pictures of themselves!!

    • It's more like housesitting that you pay for than it is staying WITH people. I mean, there's that option too, I suppose, but that's not what we did. However, it is kind of weird to be in a stranger's place. Fun, but weird.

  • Can't do it! Just can't get over staying at someone else's house. Too intimate, and my wife and I would definitely not be comfortable. That's why i churn credit card with rewards, so I can stay at a fancy hotel free :)

    I love the concept, but am not brave enough. Good on you for making it happen though. And thanks for the report.

    • HAHA but with AirBnB I don't have to be nice to ANYONE. In any hotel. I just have to find the hidden key and then go judge their book collection.

      Like one guy, who organized his bookshelf by color.

  • Interesting review. I’ve wanted to try airbnb for a while now but each opportunity had fallen through. Sounds like you really need to do your homework.

  • Oooh that sounds so fun and so adventurous!! I can't imagine doing that. Maybe if you had asked me a few years ago, but I just feel like I need my privacy these days. It's cool to have a somewhat free tour guide though! Maybe this will have to go on my bucket list.

  • Staying at a stranger's house would be kind of weird. I have been interested in AirBnB for a while since it has the potential to save a lot of money. The nude pictures sounds kind of strange. I don't think I've ever seen anyone have nude pictures in their home unless you are talking about art.

  • I've used Air BnB on both ends and I love it. It's been a great way to sublet my apartment when I take short trips and it's been a wonderful, inexpensive alternative to hotels when traveling. Reviews are probably the most helpful and telling descriptions of the places. What owners chose to portray or leave out in their own descriptions and photos can be deceiving.

  • I've used AirBnB when they were pretty much new. I was researching for places to stay in Portland when I visited several years back and found AirBnB. I can't believe that I actually stayed at one knowing how it was still unknown (therefore not a lot of feedback) and that I'm the type of person who don't like to stay at other people's houses (I feel I'm in their way). But it was actually a good experience! We stayed in two Portland houses (one in the hills of NW and the other in NE) and I found it way more exciting to stay at people's homes than staying at a hotel. You feel like you live there and the entire vacation seems to have a different intimate feeling/vibe. Then a couple months later or so, I read all over the internet about that girl in San Francisco who put her home on AirBnB and when she came back her entire house was ransacked and the person stole all her personal belongings. With that said, I think I'd use AirBnB but would never put my home up. :P

  • Ha! I've wondered about Air Bnb. I would probably do it if I was staying somewhere without my kids but I couldn't bring myself to do Air Bnb with kids in tow!

  • I've heard so much about air bnb and want to try it but I just don't know if I would be comfortable! I'm also slightly paranoid when it comes to these things and staying at a stranger's home wouldn't feel safe to me.

  • I have heard about services like these. I signed up for Couch Surfer a while ago but never did anything with it. It sounds like you have to be very trusting.

  • Nudity, really? That's weird. I never have had a bad experience but had a few bad ones with couchsurfing which is free, I guess after 8 years of using it I have an eye to spot the good Airbnb ads too. Just put my house on it if you holiday in Guatemala next time :)

  • I have used it a couple of times and have been very satisfied with it. The rooms are never as clean as the hotel rooms, but that is expected. As I tend to go for the cheaper options I know not to expect much. When I came to Portland late last to check out the place, I got a bed in the attic for $20 a night with kitchen access, couldn't do better with a hotel room. Esp. for a trip where I purposely planned to be out the entire day.

  • That sounds pretty neat.. I dont think I would do it with kids, however. But if I was traveling solo or with Michelle, it might be a good way to go.

    I don't get the nekkid pictures thing.. They were just laying around? Were they pictures of past visitors or what?

  • I've never used AirBNB or any site like this. I've only ever really stayed in hotels, motels, and inns. I'd hide naked pictures if I had them everywhere and I was renting my place out!

  • We rented a cabin in Northern Michigan through AirBnB two weeks ago. It was kickass. Our host lived in an apartment below, and was awesome. I prefer a cozy place over a hotel, almost any day.

    Funny….we've decided that we liked it so much that we'd rearrange my daughter's room a little when the kids go to college and offer their bedrooms on AirBnB. Why not make a few bucks?

  • LOL! Love your intro paragraph.

    WHO the f displayes naked pics in their house?!?!

    I really, REALLY want to use AirbNB and sites like it. But to be honest, the numbers have never added up for me in any of the places we've done. Budget hotels have always been cheaper as well as usually more central, especially once you add in the fees. I'm planning to write a post about this.

  • Anne - Unique Gifter

    Nekkid pictures? Like up on the walls at the places? That is STRANGE as far as I'm concerned. Unless it's like an oil painting (tasteful nude type thing), who on earth decorates with porn??!
    In other news, yay for visiting Victoria :-) My best friend and my brother and his wife live there now.

  • DO NOT USE AIRBNB. I recently went on their website to book an apartment in Holland, I searched through airbnb website and found something suitable with the dates I requested. I then proceeded the only way you can, to press on the book it now button. It then asked for my credit card details etc. which i provided and coming to the end of the procedure airbnb states that credit card details are on a retainer and that if the booking is not completed by the owner of the property that you will not be charged.

    2 hours later i receive a message of the owner of the apartment that it is not available and that it is declined. I didn't think much of it and the next day I proceeded in the same way to search for a property. I found one, gave all my details yet again and waited for this all illusive reply as to the acceptance of the owner of the property.

    In the meantime i receive a text message from my bank that 2 large sums of money had been taken out of my account. I am baffled, I contacted airbnb with great difficulty, searching through their website to find human contact and say ' he where the hell did my money go?' I have no apartment to show for it, and also property nr. 2 was declined by the owner.

    The response was this:
    Hello Sam,
    Thank you for contacting Airbnb. My name is Elijah, and it is my pleasure to assist you today.
    Our records show that the authorization of $466 to your Visa was voided on October 15, 2013.
    When a security deposit is released or when a reservation request is retracted, declined, or expired, Airbnb voids any authorization that was made on your card. While authorization voids happen instantly on our end, it may take your bank or credit card company longer to process the transaction. The authorization may have been deleted from the account entirely, as it was never a real charge. For more details you can follow this link: http://www.airbnb.com/help/question/313

    If you are experiencing a delay, please contact your bank or credit card company about this issue to see if they can track it down. Provide the processor authorization code, which is 87****, and advise them you are inquiring about an authorization and not a refunded charge. By providing this information to your bank or credit card company, they can expedite this process and grant you access to your funds again.

    I hope you have a great day, and my sincerest apologies for any inconvenience caused by the voided authorization.
    Kind regards,
    Elijah E

    SO, as it turns out it is my banks fault for taking the money out of my account in the first place, and it is also my banks fault that it took ALMOST 2 weeks to have the money refunded.

    DO NOT USE AIRBNB, I had to go on holiday with very low funds in my account as I had to book a hotel through another website for my stay.
    All the best,
    Sammy

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