Airbnb is something of a byword when it comes to renting holiday houses, with accommodation peppered across roughly 100,000 cities and towns in 220 countries worldwide.
But with such an enormous choice of holiday home rentals, how do you pick the best one in your chosen destination? Whether you’re looking in the UK or overseas, here are some handy pointers for choosing an Airbnb to suit you.
Be specific about what you want
When you start your search for holiday accommodation, save time with filters and make sure you use all those that are relevant to what you have in mind. You can filter on price, the type of property, near the beach, or a pub, if pets are allowed. You can even use a filter for properties that offer free cancellation. Plus, you can narrow down further based on amenities offered. If a hot tub is a must for your holiday, make sure you’ve included it!
You can also make sure the property meets your practical requirements, such as accessibility needs. It’s also worth doing a bit of research to find out the other must-haves. Will it be hot or humid at the time of year you’re visiting? Then it may be worth only searching properties with air conditioning.
There’s also a filter for superhosts. To qualify as a superhost, the host needs to have a certain number of guests per year, and a number of five-star reviews. Filtering by superhost guarantees you’ll be in a safe pair of hands.
Find something unique
If you’d like to push the boat out (perhaps even literally), you also have the choice of going a little bit wild. Airbnb has recently introduced a menu which allows you to search for more out-there accommodation
Among the options are houseboats, barns, treehouses, castles, amazing views – and ‘off-the-grid’, if you’d really like to lose yourself. Or for the ultimate roll of the dice, opt for ‘OMG!’, which will bring up a selection of properties which look like a pick ‘n’ mix from a thousand years ago, a thousand years into the future, Mars and Middle Earth.
Read the reviews
Although all listings need to start somewhere, it’s reassuring to choose a place which has lots of good reviews. Unless the property is newly listed, the customer reviews usually give you a better idea of what the experience is likely to be like than the listing alone.
This will provide a barometer for things like cleanliness, facilities and value for money. You can home in on the factors which are most important to you.
Properties are often listed on other sites too, so if you’re not sure about a place, dig a little deeper and read reviews elsewhere. Booking.com encourages reviewers to list positives and negatives, for example – so you might find like-minded travellers pointing out things that aren’t immediately obvious. Perhaps the Wi-Fi is sub-par? Maybe the rooms aren’t as large as they seem? If there are any downsides, it’s likely that someone has pointed them out.
And after your stay, don’t forget to leave a review yourself, and be as honest as possible about your experience.
Check out the local area
The locations of the properties are approximate rather than exact, for security reasons. As such, it’s worth taking a virtual walk around the nearby streets using Google Street View. This will help you get a feel for the neighbourhood, and what you’ll expect to find nearby. Plus if you spot anything you wouldn’t like to be next door to, such as a building site, you can ask the host before you commit.
use the property’s calendar
If you haven’t committed to the exact dates, then it’s worth searching with flexible dates to see more of a breadth of available properties. Checking the property’s calendar will not only show its availability, but also give you a sense of how much it’s in demand. Airbnb might also tip you off regarding popular properties by labelling them a ‘rare find’.
It’s also worth booking your property well in advance, as a lot of Airbnb properties are unique, meaning that they’ll be snapped up early.
Message the host
While some properties will be managed remotely or owned by someone with many properties, most are likely to have a local host with only a few properties – maybe even just the one. As such, it’s worth tapping them up for their local expertise.
In addition to finding out the best local bars and restaurants, you may be able to ask your host for help with a more bespoke experience. Perhaps you’d like flowers to be left out for your partner, or a special activity arranged for your children? Being communicative with your host could lead to special treatment – which can really make a holiday.
Renting a pet-friendly Airbnb
If you want to take our furry friend with you, it’s possible to stipulate the number of pets when you initially conduct your search. This means you’ll only be shown pet-friendly properties.
It’s worth making extra checks to be sure the property suits your pet. Let’s say you’re taking a dog. You’ll want to ensure there’s outdoor space in case they need to go to the toilet, and see if the owners say anything about whether they’re allowed on the furniture. If they’re old or have mobility issues, it’s worth checking if there’ll be a lot of stairs.
And again, read the reviews to see if other pet owners have had a good experience.
Airbnb cancellation policy
The cancellation policy for your Airbnb is largely dictated by the hosts. It’s worth checking this before you commit, as some will be stricter than others. For ultimate flexibility, look for properties which offer free cancellation up until a date near your stay. This means you won’t be stung in case you need to change your plans.
Occasionally, you may have the host cancel on you. If this is the case, they need to cancel it themselves, and not ask you to. If a host needs to cancel, you might be given credit to put towards another property, and Airbnb is likely to suggest some similar alternatives.
You can read more about Airbnb’s cancellation policies here.
For more handy travel tips and pointers, go to Solved.