Today is a common thing to research a lot before traveling, not only about the place itself you are going to, but also the accommodations you will be spending some time in: should I stay in a hotel or in a Airbnb space? Well, it depends a lot whether you’re seeking comfort, save money, timing, etc. Last year I experienced my first time in a Airbnb space and I can name a few pros and cons about it (comparing to hotels), and will give my final opinion on which I think is the best thing. But first of all, this article is not an imposition of what you should do or not, is just a way of telling you a way of clarifying some doubts that myself used to have before experienced it.
One of the main things for me is the cleaning of the place. No matter if the place is my house, hotel or Airbnb. I like everything clean. How a wonderful thing is it to arrive in any clean place smelling good?
The good thing about hotels is that you never have to worry about cleaning. If you are staying in a hotel that has everyday room service, heaven it is! I love it. When I travel, I work, I get tired. I usually go out in the morning and return at night, spend my day walking, sometimes 15 km/18 km a day, photographing, talking to people, discovering new places, etc. So when I return to the hotel I am staying in, the last thing I want to be worried is about the cleaning. So it is wonderful that you can have nice cozy clean bedroom all to yourself, waiting for you, sometimes after a stressful day (you never know) and not to think about it. So hotels are very good on that point. Of course sometimes you stay in good hotels that don’t do the cleaning as they should, but most of hotels are good at that point and offer proper service, sometimes twice a day and extra amenities to spoil you. Who does not love it?
I did not have any problem in the Airbnb place I stayed in Paris, end of 2018. The apartment was very clean and smelled super nice. But when you stay at Airbnb place you have to worry about it. First, you pay sometimes an expensive extra tax for cleaning (I talk about it below) on which I doubt that the owners pay a professional to do it. Hardly. So, at Airbnb you have to clean the apartment. You have to worry like the apartment is yours because there won’t be anyone there to clean the place for you. You have to take the trash out, clean the kitchen, wash dishes, etc., like a proper local. And that sucks. I already do it everyday in my life in my own apartment, and as I said, when I travel, I don’t like to think about it. Another thing, you book Airbnb, you arrive at the place, and the place is dirty. Two options: or you walk way and pay for the fee by leaving it, or you clean it. So if you don’t mind it, Airbnb is ok. But cleaning for me is a point that, depending the place you stay, can ruin the trip.
The place that you will chose to stay for the next weekend, holidays or even a month will be likely your home. You have to feel well, comfortable, relaxed …no matter where that place is or the purpose of your trip.
One thing I love about hotels is that from the moment you arrive and unpack your things, the place suddenly is all about you. Toilet stuff, clothes, photo gear, coats, shoes, etc. In a matter of 30 min, I organize my things and that place for a while will be like home to me. Nothing personal about no one. It’s a hotel. Feels like home to me because there is only my things around. No stuff around the place to remind me that someone else lives there and is temporarily renting it.
Some Airbnb places are as empty as an apartment to rent. Others so full of things and furniture that you can barely walk inside of it. Others are middle term, but still, with a lot of personal things. Someone else lives there. I don’t feel comfortable waking up and have to look at others people photos, personal toilet stuff, food that you can’t touch, pans that you can accidentally burn, TV that you can watch but be careful to not fuck up the settings. For me is not comfortable, I don’t like that atmosphere. I like impersonal. The more impersonal, the more I love. Other people’s lives don't interest me. To be in a place that belongs to another person is kind of strange. Meaning: I slept in a bed that belongs to the couple owner of the apartment that rented it to me. The moment my rent was over, the couple that lives there was back to their bed. Felt like I was an intruder in some way. Odd situation. If you don’t care about details like that, you should be fine.
I don’t like to share spaces, it can be in a hotel, hostel or Airbnb. If you are like me, pay attention while choosing it in a hotel and/or Airbnb websites. Sometimes the details are hidden and the prices so appealing that we end up forgetting to see it and when you realize, you booked a room without bathroom. Instead, you booked a room where the bathroom is shared among 3 others ...
Truly, it all depends on your budget, needs and goal of your trip: business, holiday, friends, family trip, solo trip, etc. I find a myth that hotels are always more expensive than Airbnb spaces, meaning, Airbnb can also be extremely expensive. Why? Adding the taxes, services fees and cleansing costs, your daily rate that began at $55 may go up to $120! Sometimes, for a rate like that, you can book yourself a very nice 5 stars hotel where you won’t have to worry about anything. Plus, including breakfast, amenities, gym, spa, pool, etc. In order to catch a good place/price you have to research. Research takes time. If you are in a hurry, then maybe a hotel is a better choice.
Here is an article more detailed saying why Airbnb costs more than you think, worth reading.
Live as a local
People keep saying that in order for you to experiment a city, living as a local, you have to stay in a Airbnb place so you can cook, see neighbors, take metro, shopping at the local market. I’ve always done that by staying in hotels. When in Paris in 2017 I stayed in a very nice hotel, and my room was provided with a super kitchen and all cutlery I can think of. It was near mini markets, fairs, flower shop, 2 metros, restaurants, bars, etc. For me it was perfect. I don’t see any difference at all in that sense from hotels to Airbnb. I think in order for you to live as local, first, try to do things that are not so touristy. Go to bars and restaurants frequented by locals. Go to different parks. Walk through the city. Get lost. Shop books. Buy local souvenirs, not the ones sold below Eiffel Tower or Notre-Dame. See a show, a ballet, an opera. Take metro, bus, not only taxis. Off the beaten track, that’s it.
Kiasmos show at Élysée Montmartre Paris,
my favorite music in my favorite city
Dublin, off the beaten track
24/7 - Safety and help
I didn’t have any problem whatsoever while at Airbnb and never heard of anything alike. The apartment I booked was exactly as the photos shown on the website, everything was in perfect order and functioning. But in any case, you have to know where to run to in case of any problem, because there is no fast help like in a hotel. When you’re staying in a hotel you have at your disposal 24/7 staff in case of anything (I speak thinking about hotels with a minimum of maintenance and security). So, if you chose to stay in an Airbnb place, you may want to check a few things first: the region, who to call if something comes up, the emergency number, is it a house or an apartment, maybe just a room? A good neighborhood? First Aid Box? Distant from the city? Security way outs? I mean, maybe is a new city, with a language that you don’t speak (Moscow?) and none nearby speaks English, I don’t know! Maybe the place you rent is not exactly what was told, you have an argument, and will have to figure out a new place in the last minute. I think about all that because I am a woman, and usually travel alone and to distant places. As I live in Brazil, I always think about tense situations ahaha don't blame me (to live in Brazil is not for naive people)! To put it shortly, check everything! It is always good to be prepared if something comes up.
Check in/Check out
When you are exhausted from long hour flights, airport customs, bags withdrawn, jet-lag, traffic from the airport, etc., there is nothing better than to arrive at your hotel, with a teamwork waiting for you at the entrance hall. I love that! To be able to arrive at a hotel where everybody speaks at least English and let go of everything is wonderful. Check in, amenities, a hot shower and a comfy bed. Ahhhh :)
On the other hand, in my experience with Airbnb I waited for a whole hour outside the apartment, because the host was not there. He sent me a SMS text message (I never check that) instead of Whatsapp message saying my Whatsapp was not working. Really? And he did not speak English very well, add to that, he was not the host, but a friend of the host. My luck is that I understand a little bit of French and it went well.
Overall check in experience was OK, but I confess this encounter was kind of strange. The guy was in a hurry because it was his lunch time and I did not had the chance to ask about little things about the apartment at that moment and only remembered later. Of course, you can send messages to the hosts through Airbnb website, even call them. But sometimes things can go wrong. So I wonder, imagine if in my place were an old couple that did not speak French or even English. Or is not used to travel a lot, or anything. Kind of messy. Point taken: make sure the check in and check out is agreed with the host so you don’t have to wait, etc. Maybe your flight arrives at 3:00 am? Another thing, be sure is someone that speaks the language agreed and is not in a hurry. On my check out I left the keys on the apartment and voilá.
Notes to pay attention regarding Airbnb
Check all the warnings, clauses and fees regarding the space you will rent. I know sometimes is boring as hell to read it, but, you may find some tricky details. So in my opinion you have to read 100%, cause maybe you will find a clause saying: if you brake anything, the fee will be $500 (pause to breath). So yes, it’s important.
Follow your intuition. If you have doubts about the place, ask questions, photos, everything. And if after all that, you still have doubts, don’t book. Find another place. There are literally million options out there. And good ones.
Read the reviews! This is very important! Whenever I travel, I read reviews about everything. The city I am traveling, the places I wanna visit and mostly important, the space I’m booking to stay in. It is all about reviews nowadays and usually people are very honest about it and I like to think, have good sense. So read the reviews about the Airbnb place you are interested in. Don’t skip that part of the process.
As for myself, if I can, I will always prefer to stay in a hotel, no doubts about that. I know hotels can have tons of tourists, busy, noisy, etc., still, I prefer it. The things about hotels that I love the most is 'I don't have to worry about anything'.
My experience with Airbnb was very nice, I can't complain. It was totally different from the usual hotel accommodations I am used to. And all of that for a fantastic price. The space I rent in Paris for 9 days was cheap considering the posh region, Porte Maillot. Plus, metro only 2 blocks away, Carrefour on the corner, mini markets, pharmacy, parking, restaurants, gardens, coffee bistro, and best of all, far away from disturbing tourists. That place was incredible good, the region was like a Paris without tourists. What can be better than that? As I said, it all depends on your budget and what kind of experience do you want to have.
What about you? Did you have any experiences worth to share? Comment below!