Airbnbs have changed the game – this is no secret. A kitchen, washer/dryer, free Wi-Fi, and low price points are some of the benefits of booking an Airbnb over a hotel. Nowadays, most Airbnbs have these amenities and this is due to consumer demand for them, but one aspect of Airbnbs that aren’t always apparent in the pictures is the quality of the place. Is it in a safe area? What are the annoying nuances that could derail my experience? What is the “inside info” of the place?
Unfortunately, knowing the definitive answer to all of these questions probably isn’t possible, but with a bit of homework and “street smarts”, you can certainly get enough information to make an informed decision.
First and foremost, and while this is certainly not a requirement, filtering your search for “Superhosts” is your first step in weeding out the good from the bad when it comes to finding a trustworthy place to stay. Superhosts are carefully vetted, highly rated hosts that offer the best in customer satisfaction. The requirements to be a Superhost include a 4.8+ rating, 90% responsive rate, 10+ stays per year, and 0 cancellations. Right off the bat, you can see that these are all of the qualities you’ll want in someone hosting you in their home.
Entire home vs. Shared space
I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking to share a relaxing weekend with my significant other in Los Angeles, I don’t want to be shacking up with roommates. I understand that everyone’s situation is different and not everyone can afford the increased price of an entire home, but having to share your space with others can significantly impact your ability to enjoy your time wherever you may be.
Entire home or not, be sure to filter your search for whatever you prefer. Oftentimes, Airbnb images are staged in such a way that they all look like entire homes when in fact they may be a shared apartment or house.
I always take reviews with a grain of salt. Some people are naturally whiny and will always complain about something. What I like to do is take a read through all of the reviews and pick out the pain points. Does the kitchen table rock from side to side? Does the bed creak? Are there shady characters that hang around the place at night? As you can see, not all of these complaints are made the same so it’s important to read the complaints and map them to your life. Would you be annoyed by a creaky bed enough to shoot for another place that is $100 higher per night?
Quick story…when I was in Dublin last February I was staying in a swanky apartment Airbnb. The inside was Swedish modern but the building was very old. As is the case in Europe, hot water is not unlimited and in this particular Airbnb, it seemed the hot water was not unlimited all of the time. I only got about 15 minutes of hot water, out of the lower shower faucet only. Not the shower head. I’m 6’3” so think of me trying to wash myself using the faucet. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, right? Wrong. You can be reasonably assured that if the Airbnb’s pictures look like s***, the owner probably maintains it like s***. It’s true that an image can be everything but in this case, while images are extremely important, I want to stress that they should be considered along with the other tips in this article. If everything else checks out and the picture looks amazing, it’s probably a great find. If you see a condo on the beach with incredible pictures and amenities, but the reviews say the front door is busted and there are muggings every night, exclude that from your search.
Read the amenities in the listing. This is very important. Take stock of what you want in the home you’re renting. Do you want a washer/dryer so that you can pack light? Did you rent a car and only want places with free parking? Do you need to work and require fast Wi-Fi? Make sure the amenities list has all of these and then cross-check that information with the reviews. You might see Wi-Fi as an amenity, but Johnny may have stayed there last week and reviewed the place saying that the “free” Wi-Fi is practically unusable.
Last but not least…
Use your instinct, your street smarts, and take into consideration ALL factors before shelling out your hard-earned money for a place to lay your head at night.