5 things to check out before you book your Airbnb*

Airbnb
Since its launch, travellers looking for a more immersive experience when abroad have turned to online holiday rental service Airbnb. The convenience of the website, and cosiness of the accommodation, has made it a great alternative to staying in a hotel. However, users should still be aware of a few things before they book.

Location

The host may have left an adequate description of the neighbourhood, but double check that this is where you want to stay. Is it located near lots of bars? You might want to decide if this is something you want, or perhaps you are looking for something a little quieter. Check for things like the nearest public transport, tourist spots and search online to get an idea of the general vibe of the area. Most capital cities will have some sketchy parts, be aware of where these are.

Check-in and check-out policy

Different hosts will have different policies about the times to check in and out. Make sure these work for you and your travel times. Also, be aware of any rules they have about how the accommodation should be left upon your departure- some hosts will add on a cleaning fee to your stay which can ramp up the costs.

Make sure it’s appropriately kitted out

Unlike staying in a hotel, renting out an Airbnb often means you can make your own meals, and may have to bring your own towels and other necessities. Check with your prospective host what the accommodation comes with. Does it have all the cooking utensils and cutlery that you need? Should you bring your own hairdryer? For longer stays in villas or where pools and hot tubs are available, you might want to ensure there are swimming pool nets so that you are equipped to keep the pool hygienic during your stay. Hot tubs should also have a hot tub chlorine dispenser to ensure you don’t pick up any germs or diseases.

Read the reviews

This may seem obvious, but it is important to look beyond the star system when you are checking an Airbnb’s reviews. Because hosts can also leave reviews of guests, many users are hesitant about leaving bad reviews about their stay in case they themselves get bad feedback and hamper their chances of getting a host to approve them in the future. For this reason, make sure you read all reviews as well as looking at the stars they leave. A review may appear positive at first, but beware of any mention of a less-than-perfect location, for instance. Sometimes it can be the other way round – the review might be sparkling but the stars may show that the cleanliness perhaps wasn’t top-notch. Make sure to read both reviews and ratings before you book. Equally, if there are any negative comments, see if the host has responded or promised to make any changes. No word from a host just shows that they do not care about the quality of their listing, or the experience of their guests.

A contactable host

It is important to have communication with a potential host before you make your booking. You can tell a lot from their responses such as their attitude and response time. The latter is particularly important as if there is a problem with the accommodation during your stay, you will want it to be resolved quickly and not have to wait a long time for your host to get back to you. You can also ask important questions about the neighbourhood and the accommodation itself. For instance, you might want to know about the WiFi connection, whether you will be sharing the accommodation with anyone else, or even if there have been any pets staying recently if you happen to be allergic.

But don’t let this advise put you off – Airbnb is a cheap and convenient alternative to other types of accommodation. Have you used Airbnb before? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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