Canoeing on the waters of Puget Sound. Swimming at a private beach backing on to the Adriatic Sea. Drinking cocktails in secret bars in Rome. Why would you not book with Airbnb?
Airbnb has received a torrent of bad publicity and criticism. This has been exemplified in websites and articles such as www.airbnbhell.com. These websites are contributed to by a growing number of disgruntled customers and hosts alike. The horror stories shared by organised online communities and social media forums give an eye-opening insight into the genuine issues that can affect the customers of Airbnb. The company is attributed as the responsible party for pushing out locals out of their hometowns and contributing to the soaring rent epidemics in cities such as New York and London. Also, Airbnb has become renowned for its poor customer service, as well as endangering guests and hosts with its lack of safety requirements.
If you have never used Airbnb it is easy to be deterred by the seemingly overwhelming negatives. However, in my opinion as a student who loves to travel, Airbnb offers a unique, affordable and overall better quality accommodation option than the alternatives, for numerous reasons.
Firstly, Airbnb is low cost and gives you the best value for money, especially when you share with friends. For example, last summer eight friends and I booked an apartment in the centre of Budapest. For this accommodation we were only paying £9 a night each. A shared dorm in a chain hostel without the luxury amenities, would most likely be the same price. The apartment was open plan, modern and as an added bonus… Instagram worthy! We were able to comfortably explore Budapest from this location – and spend the money we saved in the infamous ruin bars!
The second reason why I love Airbnb is because it encourages you to visit districts, neighbourhoods, and perhaps even countries you may not have considered before. When visiting Rome in the height of summer it was a struggle to find cheap central accommodation. We stumbled across a room on Airbnb a 20-minute subway ride away in a residential area called Pigneto. I am so glad that we had the opportunity to experience this unique neighbourhood. After an exhausting and swelteringly hot day exploring Rome’s tourist packed sites, we spent a relaxed evening in Pigneto. The neighbourhood has an authentic, local and artsy feel. Pigneto is packed with an abundance of good restaurants and bars, at a fraction of the prices in the centre. In fact, one of last summer’s coolest finds was a speakeasy bar called Spirito in the Pigneto neighbourhood. It was disguised as a butcher’s shop in true prohibition style and it served up delicious cocktails and food. We spent the following morning looking around the cool boutiques, art galleries and coffee shops lining the streets. However, it is important to remember even when staying in residential districts of Rome you must remain vigilant in order to avoid being a victim of petty crime.
The next reason is the unique quirks that you don’t get when staying in typical accommodation, for instance the views and the facilities. Dubrovnik is an expensive touristy town meaning that we had to stay a 15-minute walk outside of the city walls. The walk was compensated with a spectacular roof top terrace with access to one of the best views of the old town.
Furthermore, the Airbnb hosts who often have an extensive knowledge of the local area and are usually willing to go beyond what is expected to make your stay memorable. I have had many positive encounters with Airbnb hosts who are happy to help with directions and always offer their invaluable local advice.
Overall the San Francisco start up business offers a platform of unrivalled unique accommodation experiences, however it is useful to be aware that sometimes you will have unexpected encounters. The key to getting the most out of Airbnb is to keep your expectations in check, remember you are not staying in a hotel! Additionally, you should always exercise caution when booking with Airbnb as with any other accommodation. As well as having comprehensive travel insurance in the event of cancellation or unforeseen circumstances. Before you book abroad, check this Foreign Travel Checklist, so that you can enjoy your city break or beach retreat with peace of mind!
Text by Eve Willis
Picture research by Donna Darafshian ; featured image from decoist.com/.