Having already done a lot of traveling, we have – needless to say – stayed in countless accommodations at various places around the world. We have also made plenty of experience with staying at Airbnb hosts. For those who shouldn’t know: Airbnb is a booking platform originally designed for staying with locals. From our point of view Airbnb is a great thing in general. There are many good impressions we were able to make but in some other situations not everything went well to 100%. At some destinations we also decided against staying at an accommodation offered by Airbnb as the other options seemed to be better for us. In this article we picked out some issues that we want to consider in some more detail with regard to the advantages and disadvantages of Airbnb. They are based on our personal experience and reflect our point of view. At the end we want to share some other pros and cons of Airbnb without going into much detail.
Getting started – our opinion on the Airbnb platform
The Airbnb platform is in our opinion easy to handle and it is simple to locate the approximate position of the accommodation you are looking although the map. As far as we can remember (it is quite some time ago) registration can be done within a few minutes. You have to upload a copy of an ID document in order to become a certified user what is on the one hand a good thing as it makes Airbnb more creditable but on the other hand collecting and saving sensible personal user data may be seen critical from a privacy protection perspective.
In general our rating regarding the booking platform is neutral to positive compared to the platforms of other, similar providers although we have the feeling that it was a bit easier to use in the past and it was slightly better-arranged.
Prices are okay but there could be more payment options
Regarding prices you can find everything you are looking for: from low-budget to the high end – certainly depending on the quality, size and location of the accommodation. Compared to other types of accommodation we think that you can very often or at least sometimes find more value at Airbnb. That is certainly one reason why we usually look at Airbnb first and can be regarded as an advantage.
Payments on Airbnb are in general made via credit card. Although they offer several other payment options they are not available in or for every country. For example, we cannot pay with PayPal (although it is mentioned on the website that this should be possible for some countries). We have never experienced troubles when it came to paying via credit card but the shortage of alternative payment options may be regarded as a disadvantage of Airbnb.
Hosts and the standard of the accommodation
As already stated in the section above you can find all sorts of accommodation at Airbnb – from a room with a shared bathroom to a complete house. Basically we were usually very satisfied with what we booked and what we got for our money. With little exceptions the accommodations we stayed at were very clean, well-equipped and pretty much in line with the descriptions published at the Airbnb website. The hosts (if we met them at all) were in general very kind, helpful and friendly. With some of them we had a great time having a glass of wine, a beer or a cup of coffee together. Some even became friends and we are still in contact with them.
Very rarely we had some troubles with our Airbnb accommodations: For example, when we arrived at one of them during nighttime (what we had told the host beforehand and was OK for him) we had to find out that he forgot to leave the key in the lockbox. As the host was not at home at the time we stayed it was pretty bothersome for us getting into the accommodation after a long flight and at around 2 o’clock in the night. We had to do several phone calls but finally after some time his brother showed up and opened the door for us – but that is certainly not what you want to experience.
But – as already stated – in general usually everything was well-arranged and fine for us. We also appreciate the insider tips of the hosts regarding places to visit, eat, drink etc.
One other positive experience we made was in Tasmania where we found an accommodation at the house of a very friendly older couple in a remote place in the wilderness. There were certainly no other accommodations available as there was nothing around at all!
Altogether we would see the close relationship between the host and the guests as an advantage of Airbnb.
Some other pros and cons
- The possibility of mutual reviews leads – in our opinion – to more respect between the host and the guests.
- “Activities” and “Restaurants” were added to the offer. Although we have not made any experiences with that it seems as if it may increase the value for the customer
- It is certainly more exciting than staying at a hotel.
- Increasing criticism about Airbnb due to the fact that in some cities and areas where there is little living space anyway this form of booking an accommodation may lead to higher rents for people who live there and contributes to the shortage of available living space further.
- Staying with a “stranger” in an apartment and perhaps sharing a bathroom will probably not be suitable for everyone.
All in all Airbnb offers a great variety of accommodations nearly everywhere you may want to go for many different price segments. The website is easy to handle and our own overall experience with Airbnb is fairly positive. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages in our opinion and we will certainly consider booking with Airbnb on one of our next journeys again.