Holidaying with Airbnb

I thought I’d do a really quick blog post as so many of you are asking about Airbnb (I’ll do a blog post about the villa too, but this post is about booking a holiday using AirBnb)
Note – the name doesn’t mean you will get bed and breakfast! You can book anything from a treehouse, to a mansion. You can book a room in someone’s house, or have a whole place to yourself.
I have been a host on Airbnb for 4 years – we sold our holiday home so I am not hosting any more, but I can speak from a host’s point of view, and now as a guest – to give you some pointers.
There are loads of horror stories about Airbnb, from rubbish accommodation, nothing like the images you saw online, to no accommodation at all! If you do your homework, I can’t see how this could happen.
When you are choosing where to stay, the first thing I’d look at is reviews – does the host have 5 star reviews? You can filter your search results by reviews, so I’d say that would be a good place to start, once you have chosen your preferred location.
Airbnb use a really good review system. After the stay, both guests and hosts will receive an email asking for a review – As a host, I honestly reviewed guests – I was asked questions on a list like ‘Did the guest promptly reply to messages’ ‘Did the guest take care of your property’ ‘Would you recommend this guest to other hosts’ and then I could leave a write up review too. This is really handy as a host, to see other hosts’ reviews of your guest/s. I really only felt happy with guests that had 4.5/5 stars.
Obviously if this is your first booking, you will not have any ratings and the host will see you have only just joined but it would be worth saying in your initial message that this would be your first booking and therefore, you have no reviews yet. Equally, the villa here only had a couple of reviews as it is brand new, so there is a bit of common sense to be had too, not everyone/everyplace will have reviews yet.
As a guest, it is really important to read the reviews of the host and the accommodation you might be staying in. It is like it’s own little TripAdvisor.
One thing worth noting is that neither party get to read their review unless you have both submitted one. You don’t get to see what anyone has written about you until both reviews are written & submitted. There is also a private message area where, if I was going to say anything that was a minor niggle, such as ‘please remember to put the rubbish out next time’ to an otherwise great guest, I’d say it in the private message area. Unless it was really awful and I really wouldn’t recommend the guest to another host!(almost happened once – I mention it later, but no harm was done so I figured no review was better than a bad one, for her)
So, make contact with a few hosts that have accommodation on your short list. Make it friendly and explain who is coming. It’s quite nice to know, as a host, why they are coming, such as if it’s a wedding (I’d leave Prosecco in the fridge) or a family holiday with young children (I’d check the beach toys in the shed are up to scratch) Plus the more info you give, the more the host will /should respond to you in a friendly way, back!
If  you get no reply, move on to the next one! Don’t waste your time! You really need to know they are real people, with a real place to stay! And the messages you receive will give you a good idea of how reliable they are.
Ana, our host is brill. Last week I was packing and wondered if the villa had a hairdryer – so I messaged her (using the Airbnb message service within the app) and she got back to me within 5 minutes saying I didn’t need to pack one as there is one here. Silly things like that. That are important at the last minute.
Things To NOT ask as a guest.
Don’t ask how much the accommodation is. It’s SO annoying as a host  – if you look on a laptop you can see all the dates with the prices per night, so you can get a good idea of cost (you can’t see this on a phone) Plus, and this is the important bit, Airbnb calculate their fees for guests and hosts, differently, so as a host, I never knew the EXACT amount a guest would see on their total. It works a bit like how an auction house charges in that both parties pay a fee. So the host’s total will be different to the guest’s total.
A message saying ‘hi how much is it for a week in June’ doesn’t make for a good opening message!
Also, put a nice profile picture on. Not a picture of Bart Simpson (he got a flat no from me, he lost all his points on the daft profile picture and by saying ‘hi how much for a week in June and do I get a discount if we don’t use all the rooms’
No. the price is usually for the whole house. If you don’t need 4 bedrooms, find a place that has less bedrooms. Although some hosts may split the house if they have a quiet period and can lock certain rooms off.
Also, have a really good read through the info that the host has supplied  – quite often the answer to your question is there, like ‘does it have wifi/allow pets/have a stair gate’ etc (I most probably broke my own rule by asking about a hairdryer !! eek)
Once you have  decided that you’d like to book and you have asked all the questions you’d like to ask, and the host is happy too, they will send you an email through Airbnb inviting you to complete your booking.
At this point, no matter how far ahead you have booked, you will be asked to pay, in full, up front. This takes people by surprise and I understand it might make you nervous.
Aribnb hold the full amount until 24 hours after you have checked in to your accommodation. So your host will not receive any payment until 24 hours after you arrive.
During that 24 hours, if you are not happy and something has gone drastically wrong, you are within your rights to leave. Contact Airbnb and get a refund. Equally, if you said it was just the two of you arriving and you rock up with ten friends and a couple of dogs, for instance, your host has every right to refuse you entry.
That is pretty drastic but it should make you feel better about paying in full, up front, and sure that your money is safe and not at risk.
I have only ever had good experiences using Airbnb, I loved interacting with guests from all over the world and was never surprised by what I was asked…well, ok sometimes I’d be surprised…
Like the time a family from Las Vegas asked if there was an all night supermarket (LOL!! in Perrranporth the Co-Op will probably stay open until around 10pm unless there’s something good on the telly, then they might close early haha!)
Or the time the family travelling from India asked if I could confirm that the meat in the butchers was halal. I did check. Apparently it is, in the Co-Op – who knew.
There was only one time I felt like leaving a less than glowing review, and that was the time a guest moved all the mattresses off all the beds and tipped all the books of the bookshelf and made towers in the lounge out of them, REALLY WEIRD, but no harm done. Nowt so strange as folk!
There is also a feature called ‘Instant Book’ it has a lighting bolt icon and it means you can book immediately without first messaging the host. I have never used that option, either as a host or as a guest, so I can’t say anything about it – I’d be interested to know if any of you have, and how you found it.
Just thought you might wonder what the lightning bolt was all about. You can filter your search by ‘Only search for Instant Bookings’ if you want.
Hopefully, in this super quick post I have covered most questions – If I have anything wrong, let me know, or if I have missed anything, please ask!
Right! back to the pressing business of lounging by the pool!
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16 Thoughts on Holidaying with Airbnb
    Sharron Ingram
    27 Jul 2017

    Hi Sally,
    Great post once again. We’ve used Airbnb quite a number of times and been thoroughly pleased. It’s a great system. Alexandra does all the booking as it is the two of us that are off on little jaunts to places……girlie weekends…..thanks for the extra little tips though. She and her friend are off to Paris in a few weeks, so if you can recommend any there we’d appreciate that. Continue enjoying the house of dreams . Love and hugs xxx

      27 Jul 2017

      Thanks Sharron! Be never been to Paris so I’ll watch with interest! Xxxx

    Julia Smith
    27 Jul 2017

    Bliney Sally you are amazing. Fantastic info – which is so useful and informative. Do you ever stop and relax young lady? Look forward to knowing where the villa is for a hopeful future booking xxxx

      27 Jul 2017

      Heehee! I hope it’s helpful ! I’ll definitely share villa details on a post too xxx

    27 Jul 2017

    Amazing post, very informative. Beautifully written . Xx

      27 Jul 2017

      Thankyou so much Heather xxxx ❤️

    27 Jul 2017

    Fab and informative post – really useful tips

      27 Jul 2017

      Thanks Rita! I can spend HOURS down the Airbnb rabbit hole! Nearly booked two weeks in Hawaii once, but the flights were SOOOOOO expensive!!! Arghhhhh

    27 Jul 2017

    Hi Sally. Hope you’re having fab hol…loving the Insta stories 🙂
    I desperately wanted to book a house in California through airbnb but a couple of my friends have had issues with hosts cancelling at the last minute (does cancellation policy differ from host to host) and as the flights are so expensive to Cali, it just made me really nervous to book as would be horrendous having to find something else available at short notice to coincide with flights?!! On saying that the host we looked at had good reviews but still feeling nervous
    Loved your tips though, so informative, just what I needed! Xx

      27 Jul 2017

      Crumbs that’s awful ! There must have been a massively good reason to cancel ?! I’d definitely mention your concerns to any potential hosts and if they can’t reassure you , don’t book! Apart from the house burning down, I can’t see why you’d cancel somebody’s holiday so I’d definitely be asking lots of questions ! Get in touch and open up a conversation xxxx

    28 Jul 2017

    Hi Sally,
    We’ve been looking at Airbnb recently (not booked yet) so this was really helpful – Thank you.
    I just wanted to mention that the app on my (samsung) phone DOES show prices and totals it up as well (for lengthy stays and discounts, services fees etc)
    I used to live in Cornwall –
    24hr shop in Perrenporth lol!

      28 Jul 2017

      Oh that’s good to know! (It doesn’t show on my iPhone, how annoying!) That’s brilliant! And heehee it made me chuckle too ! Xx

    2 Aug 2017

    Great post thank you! I’m an avid Airbnb fan and can spend hours trawling. I’ve often used the instant book option as a guest and was just interested to know your thoughts as to why you haven’t? Is it that it just hasn’t happened with your chosen bookings or would you actively avoid? Thanks. Kelly-Anne

      2 Aug 2017

      Hi Kelly-Anne – thanks for messaging! It was really as a host, I preferred to chat to a guest first, I think it reduced the risk of a party of 8 arriving for a stag night etc – definitely wouldn’t actively avoid booking an instant book though! Our house was a semi so I was careful about noise etc – not that you could always tell of course! Xxx

    4 Aug 2017

    Brilliant post!
    We haven’t used Airbnb before. You’ve written really handy tips, which we’ll definitely refer to in the future!
    Many thanks x

      5 Aug 2017

      My pleasure ! It was our first time as guests and I’d definitely do it again ! Xx

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