Note: I am not a super experienced Airbnb user but I think staying in 6 different homes over 2 weeks does give me some sort of tips to share. I have also stayed in Airbnbs in South Korea and Japan. I never really took photos of the apartments but I have linked them below so you can have a look if you’re interested.
Budget traveling for Groups
I decided to opt for Airbnb stay during my 2-week vacation in the UK because my parents have always preferred staying in apartments (even before Airbnb was a thing). They prefer apartments because they tend to be cheaper when you are in a group. Hotels were expensive at that time when I was making bookings. Hotels cost up to almost $100 per person for the standard twin whereas the Airbnb cost $70-$80 per person. The added bonus is of course that we would all be more accessible to each other as opposed to separate rooms with individual locks. It might also be cheaper when you book a couple of nights rather one night only.
Also, since were are semi-budget travelers, we always prefer to cook than eat out in order to save some money. I also chose the whole apartment option because it made sense since we were a traveling group. Such option would also include a kitchen that ranges from just an electric stove to a full on kitchen with microwaves and pots. They also come with appliances such as irons, washing machines, and hairdryers.
Ideal for long stays
A mistake I made with booking Airbnb apartments when I was changing accommodations each night. We were on a road trip from London to Edinburgh so it made sense to be sleeping in a different city each night. The trouble with that is you have to pack up and leave each day. It gets challenging when you want to ensure that you leave the apartment in tip-top shape as you entered it. Cooking always leaves a mess. So our one night stays got a bit challenging. I would have preferred a hotel because we could just sleep and leave without much thought.
The home feeling is definitely the selling factor of Airbnb. When you are staying 3 nights or more, you do want to have a level of home comfort that a hotel doesn’t have. It also gives you a quick thrill of living like a local. Most the apartments are very well designed and beautifully furnished. So it gives you a feel of living like a Brit or Scot.
This Airbnb townhouse-like was from the 1800s according to the host.
It’s located in Buxton.
Hosting: Be our guest?
Certain hosts are very particular so you sometimes end up walking on eggshells trying to keep everything pristine even after one night. Generally, my hosts were not strict with some exceptions. The stricter ones who are usually the more experienced hosts would lay out a whole book of rules and constant post-it reminders on what not to do.
Such hosts are also the most helpful. Each host I stayed with kept constant communication through the Airbnb chat in their app. They checked if I needed help prior and during my stay. I think this is important in building trust because I am in a foreign country and I need some sort of guarantee that my host is not going to flake on me. They also listed their local phone numbers through the Airbnb app for emergency use. These hosts also provide loads of information on local places of attractions with their recommendations. It is basically having a local tell you the best places for your time.
The constant communication did help me with planning my daily routes. Most hosts have a specific check in and check out times especially if they have different guests staying the day before and after yours. This helps who gage the timings of arrival and departure.
Check-in and Check-out
I only met 1 out of 6 hosts during my UK trip (Hi Nick!). I only met Nick, my host in Buxton, because he lived in the house next to the one I booked. Most hosts would give you detailed instructions on how to retrieve the keys for the apartment and also how to get into the building. They would also provide photos with those instructions so it is definitely idiot proof. Just follow the instructions and BAM you’re in your apartment.
The two main ways I had to retrieve my keys were locked boxes or going to a nearby laundromat. Locked boxes would have a combination code that would be provided by my host. Thus, I barely needed to meet my host. Even when I had tv problems while staying in London, my host guided me on how to fix it through texting. Yes, we live in a technology-filled world where face to face interaction was so last decade. Again, it is all based on trust on both parties that this system is able to work.
Choosing the right place
Of course, the process of selecting and booking the Airbnb is not an easy one. I had to scroll through tons of places before I settled on the ones I did. It is all about knowing what you need and looking into the details.
Location is important because it determines how far you have to travel for your daily itinerary. Besides London, I stayed in apartments that were not city centers because we had a car. However, in London, our lack of a car was met with an apartment far from the train station. This meant walking 10 or minutes each day to get home after a full day. Not an ideal situation. If you’re planning to stay in cities such as London, Seoul or any famous city, make sure to choose a place near the subway stations.
It is equally important to look into the details of the apartment such as the sleeping and bathroom arrangement. Some places state that they can accommodate 4-6 people but sometimes this means a queen size bed for each couple or a queen size bed for one couple while the rest sleeps on inflatable mattresses and sofa beds. It is not uncommon to be in the latter situation. The use of sofa beds is very common because it saves space but might not be exactly comfortable to sleep. Also, 6 people sharing 1 bathroom is not exactly ideal so check and review all the facilities listed.
Also, check out details of the building you are staying. Does it have a working elevator or do you have to climb 6 flights of stairs? Trust me, it is very important when you have a 30-kilo suitcase you have to carry up 6 flights of stairs.
Reviews, reviews, reviews
Reading the reviews is a good way to gauge the quality of the apartment. Past travelers who have stayed in the apartments have a choice of leaving a review. I always read the reviews before making any decision because they give you a more realistic view of the place. Of course, those with more reviews tend to give you more confidence in the place. Those with bad reviews mostly have a reply from the hosts. This gives you a general overview of what you’re dealing with when booking the place.
As important it is to read the reviews, make sure to take everything with a grain of salt. Also, leave a review after your stay because you never know how much you can help the next traveler.
As a whole, I do enjoy my Airbnb stays because I just love living like a local when I travel. But I also do love the occasional hotel breakfast and luxury feel. So you can always have a mix of both when you travel. The important part is getting those hours of sleep so you can venture out to explore. Because your accommodation might where you sleep for 10 hours. That’s right you are on holiday.
Here is the Airbnbs that I have stayed at: