As a travel writer I am often asked about AirBnB properties or vacation rentals and I have a unique position on the sharing community. For short stays or couples, hotels are probably the best choice. When using an AirBnB property, after purchasing you may be required to submit a deposit (refunded after you leave), meet the property owner, overcome any language barriers, agree to their house rules and sometimes even clean before you leave or pay a fee to have it cleaned. With hotels the transaction is straight forward and easy, there are also often restaurant and bar choices attached to the property to make things simple.
However, if you are traveling with a few family members or might need some additional space, an AirBnB property can be a great choice especially for an extended stay. AirBnB properties can provide families with multiple bedrooms without high hotel suite prices. They can also give families the option to cook for themselves, or take home leftovers. Separated living and sleeping spaces make AirBnB properties more comfortable and having a key and a private address provides a far more authentic and localized experience than another plastic key card in another rectangular room.
Questions to ask an AirBnB host:
1) What are the house rules? Asking questions about pets, guests, and children can make the stay easier and avoid any awkward confrontation on arrival. As much as you want a good host, you also want to be a good guest. Be upfront and honest if you plan to have people over or will be traveling with your children or pets, you would want the same in your home.
2) What is the procedure for checkin and check out? Travel plans can fluctuate due to tardy aircraft or traffic and keeping a host waiting for hours on end is rude and unfair to them. Likewise, you don’t want to be left standing outside their apartment at 11PM because they have gone to bed (this happened to me and the result was not good). Be clear about when you are arriving, with whom you should speak, and how check out works. A lengthy examination of the flat could make you late for your flight home so make sure there are clear expectations for all parties involved.
3) What transportation links close by? Is there a bus, ferry or subway that is easily accessible to the property? What about parking? Not asking these questions could make for a costly and disappointing trip. Clearing these items up in advance can make your stay easier and the decision for one property over another clearer.
4) Are there good restaurants nearby? On a trip to Rome we asked our host about a specific dish, Caccio e Pepe (cheese and pepper pasta) and we were so glad we did. He pointed out that there was a restaurant within three blocks that had the best caccio e pepe in town. It wasn’t just lip service either, it turned out to be an affordable, but impressive Michelin star restaurant and the pasta was their specialty (Felicé – Rome, Italy) – at the time it set us back just €17.
Before committing to a property on AirBnB, politely open the dialogue and sort out any concerns you might have before you commit and purchase. Consider proximity to transportation, restaurants, when you can arrive and leave and any additional fees. Bonus Tip: During this dialogue politely include some attributes that you have found with nearby properties and ask for a small discount – you might just get one.