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In recent times, Airbnb usage has exploded into life. Recognised internationally, Airbnb has about 150 million users and locations in almost every country in the world. So, the question is: How safe is Airbnb?
Some people have worries about how safe Airbnb is. For the short answer, in most cases, much like most things in life, as long as you are careful, then you will be fine. Personally, I have used Airbnb for a number of trips now, including my trip to Tallinn. I have had no issues with bookings, check-in or anything at all!
Like most things, when something good comes along, the evil people wandering this world try to find a way to exploit it. This guide will give you a brief introduction to Airbnb, and then provide my top tips for using the site.
Don’t forget, if you haven’t booked through Airbnb before, then get up to £34 ($45) off your first trip.
What Is Airbnb?
To put it in it’s most simplistic form, Airbnb is the middle man between someone who wants to rent a property and someone who is looking to rent a property for a short period of time. In short, no different to booking into a room in a hotel.
There are slightly more options when using Airbnb. You have the option of searching for a private room within a property (e.g. maybe a bedroom within a 4-bed accommodation), a shared room (e.g. in a hostel environment) or the potentially more expensive but more appealing option that is an entire place which will guarantee that you are the only people in the accommodation. This is my recommendation for those who have not tried Airbnb before. This allows a bit more peace of mind that you will be the only one around the property.
Over the years, Airbnb has grown into a household name, and now, in some cases, Airbnb actually allows more options. Some destinations have limited hotels and traditional B&Bs to stay in. Airbnb can give you more options to stay in these places as locals put on their private accommodation.
Airbnb can work out cheaper than staying in a traditional hotel. Search around for the best deals to ensure you are optimising your hard-earned cash.
How Does Airbnb Work?
Before Your Stay
To make your trip as smooth as possible, you should make sure you have all the information you need. Once you have booked the accommodation, the host will most likely be in touch to provide the exact address and also provide directions and any information about entry to the property. If you are meeting the host, they will most likely provide a location to meet, and ask for your arrival time.
If you have ANY doubts or queries, make sure you ask before you travel. No one likes to be worried when travelling. So make sure you reduce the chance of any miscommunication.
During Your Stay
The check-in options available will vary from place to place. Some hosts will meet you, show you around the property, and recommend some local attractions and things to do. Others will rely on a self-check-in option (e.g. provide you with a code to enter the property or get the key from a lock-box)
Remember, you may be staying in someone else’s home for the duration of your stay. You should respect the property you are in and treat it like your own (or better if you are anything like me!).
After Your Stay
After your stay, Airbnb will send you an email asking you to leave feedback on the host and rate the accommodation. This is your chance to praise or suggest improvements so others can get a better idea of the property. Please ensure you fill this in.
As it is only fair, the host will also rate you as a guest. It seems now is a good time to emphasise the point above about respecting the home you are staying in. You may struggle to make future bookings if you are not behaving properly.
For the first 14 days after checkout, reviews will be kept anonymous until both have been completed. Then they are published publicly. Don’t think you can wait until the other posts their review before making comment. Make sure these reviews are honest and factual.
Over time, this review system allows you to see how interactive a host is with their guests, and if the accommodation is accurately represented by the images on Airbnb. This makes the whole process of using AirBnB much safer as you can simply avoid any low-rated hosts or accommodation.
Disadvantage of Airbnb
Airbnb does come with its disadvantages, however, most of these you can work around.
You are not staying in a hotel, therefore there will not be any housekeeping or reception during your stay. You will be at the mercy of your host for any issues that arise during your stay. This is why you should look for an interactive host who has happily helped other guests before you.
It may look like you are getting a good deal when browsing, but there are some half-hidden fees to be wary of. There are usually a cleaning fee and service fee which are added on to your rate, so make sure you understand the total stay amount prior to committing. Depending on the property, these fees can make a large dent in your budget.
Another disadvantage for me is the ethical effect of Airbnb. Some cities are being overrun with Airbnb properties causing the locals to struggle to find affordable housing.
Top Tips For Using Airbnb
Here are some top tips I’ve come up with from my experience of using Airbnb.
Book Property With Reviews
This may seem slightly unfair to the new hosts on Airbnb, as everyone needs to start somewhere. Still, if you have not used Airbnb before and are looking for a safe option, then book a property with many reviews. This will provide comfort knowing many people have already stayed here and provided feedback.
Never Use Under 4 Star Accommodation
By this, I mean pay attention to the properties review rating. Most properties on Airbnb will be between 4 and 5 stars. This means if it is under 4 stars, then there is probably a reason why they have bad reviews.
Look Closely At The Photos
The photos provided by the host are, like anywhere else, trying to sell the place to you. This means any flattering camera angles may make the property seem larger than it actually is. An example of this is two photos from two camera angles often make a studio look like a separate living room and bedroom.
Read Negative Reviews
This is not Airbnb specific. The reviews that say a place is nice are not very interesting. The reason you are reading the reviews is that the property has already caught your attention… because it looks nice! Read the slightly more negative reviews allow you to work out what is the main issues with the property. Look for a theme throughout these reviews to get a feel for what others did not like.
Book Entire Place
This will vary from person to person. Some people like the idea of meeting new people (for example, solo travellers etc.). However, if you want added privacy and peace of mind, book an entire place.
Would I Recommend Airbnb?
Short Answer: I WOULD recommend Airbnb, as an alternative to a hotel.
If you feel safe enough to use Airbnb then you may find a bargain of a property. I have been forced to book through Airbnb before, as the hotels in the area were just way out of my price range.
I guess it is up to you to decide for yourself the answer to the question: “How safe is Airbnb?”. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
So, Where To Go Next?
Head over to my latest posts or have a look below to gets some travel inspiration before planning your next trip!