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Airbnb: What, Why, How?

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Many of you have surely heard of Airbnb already, but there are still quite a few who have stayed in ho(s)tels only and are not aware of what Airbnb is and how they could use it. Let’s shed some light on what Airbnb is and what it’s good for.

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Airbnb’s development

I’ve been watching Airbnb develop from an interesting-sounding concept, going through the stage of quite a failure (a guest burned down a host’s place and the company was slow to respond), revamp and introduce more safety for both hosts and guests, to finally become a high-valued company, not only in terms of venture capital. It appears they still manage to keep the cool startup spirit even though they’ve grown really fast.

What it actually is about

Basically, if an owner of an apartment doesn’t stay in their apartment for a while, he/she can rent it to travelers short-term. It doesn’t apply to whole apartments only, but to rooms as well. Hosts use it to get extra cash while they’re away, move in with their partner and keep one flat additionally, or even when they are desperate to earn a living, so they rent out their place and go back to parents for a while. Some people have bought apartments just to rent them out through Airbnb, but that’s a shady practice and is banned in some countries.

How the system works

Let’s say you’re going to London. You are fed up with pricy hotels, so you check whether there’s a listing on Airbnb. You find one that looks great, with reasonable price and amenities, and with good reviews. You book it, pay the fee and wait for the host’s approval. Once the host approves, you can just wait for the time to come. Airbnb will make sure you haven’t forgotten about your upcoming accommodation and will inform you about the address, as well as remind you to let the host know your arrival time.

My experience with Airbnb

To this day, I’ve stayed in 20+ apartments via Airbnb. Obviously, I like the service a lot. Since it all has started, I stayed in hotels only on business trips or when no Airbnb listing was available.

My worst experience was waiting way too long in front of an apartment in the old town of Marrakech in late evening, with nobody else around than two locals who wanted to help for money. That was the only time. Mostly, I’ve been welcomed in nice clean places whose owners definitely cared about what review I’d leave after staying at their place. At an apartment in Paris, there were freshly cut flowers…! In a place on the East coast of Spain, the fridge was filled with drinks to keep us hydrated.

What I love most is that I can go abroad and feel like I’m local at the same time. It’s like having your own little homes abroad and travelling just from one to another, not belonging to the tourist crowds. Usually, you got a kitchen where you can make easy meals and avoid spending a fortune in restaurants. You often get to meet the owner of a flat and can easily approach him/her about what’s there to do in the town.

Btw. this article was written out of my pure admiration, Airbnb didn’t hire me :)

If you’d like to see what type of apartments I stayed at and what exact experience I had, see my posts on Airbnb apartments reviewed.

Go see for yourself, even if you like browsing only: Airbnb  – if you signup via this link, both you and me will get some little credit for our next travels :) Thanks!

Have you tried Airbnb yet? How was your experience? If not, what’s holding you back?

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Monday 4th of August 2014

Hi Juergen, thanks for your input. It's a system and people find ways to profit from it - especially those who buy properties just to let them short-term via Airbnb. Well, in Berlin and New York the authorities are trying to stop that. It's true is not the very best option for any place in the world, but I've had great experiences in Spain, France, Hong Kong, even Croatia.. Of course if you get to know somebody local and arrange a place via them, you can get a cheaper option. Regarding 'quality' of an apartment - I rely a lot on the reviews. I stayed in a few places that had no reviews yet, but never had any issues. Did you mention it in the review afterwards? Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience in Prague!


Monday 4th of August 2014

Well, my experiences have been mixed with airbnb. In Prague we stayed at a place which had thick layers of dust on every flat surface, and the "fully equipped" kitchen held 2 sauce pans - both too small to cook pasta in. In Croatia we found that holiday lets on the local market were usually half the price of airbnb listings of similar quality (hence we never booked thru airbnb). Also: the rosy picture you paint about origin of the apartments - in Berlin (and New York s far as I know) holiday lettings are taking up so many otherwise vacant spaces that rentals have exploded in price over recent years; locals can't afford the rents anymore!

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