Airbnb is a service which picks up speed very fast in the modern traveler’s list of possible accommodations when away from home.
So how to book the best stay with Airbnb?
Through the website, you can pay to stay at someone’s home. What a great way to go on vacation or a business trip. To book the best stay with Airbnb home is as easy as 1,2,3. However, sometimes It can be a bit of a challenging experience. Follow the steps I use, to utilize the platform to work for you.
I am going to Japan in less than a month and I decided that I want to stay in a traditional Japanese house or the so-called Ryokan.
There were a lot of different booking sites I could use. I was thinking of using points through Marriot, SPG or Hilton.
Paying cash to collect points was on the table too. Booking.com also had great pricing for the busy season.
To book through the AMEX Travel portal was a good option too, considering I can collect points with my Amex Platinum that I can transfer to so many different programs, but that is a whole another conversation.
I weigh all the options and finally decided to use Airbnb. I stay in a normal hotel for almost all my business travels, I thought.
So what happened is, I ended up looking for a Ryokan on Airbnb. With just a few clicks I was able to explore all the options and I found one that I really like. The place was very traditional, well-kept home with an amazing location. Then I was ready to book and my disappointment came to live on my face. I had forgotten to put the dates in. Then I did, just to find out that the place was already sold out for those dates.
Tips for booking the best stay with Airbnb.
TIP No. 1
Duh! It’s easy to come to mind, that we need to input the desired location first. But we now have some more options too.
At first, the only service Airbnb offered was a stay in someone’s home. But just recently they released their new product- “Experiences“.
Those are events or attractions usually offered by locals, like experiencing tea ceremony or calligraphy course. So, first chose which one you are interested in. Let’s say, first, we start with “Homes“.
TIP No. 2
Always, always set the dates for your stay FIRST.
For me, this is a dealbreaker because it can make or break your experience with Airbnb especially when using it for the first time. Another must for me is setting the number of guests. If you are flying solo, this is not a big deal, I think since I would hope that every home can accommodate at least one person. Some places might charge per person and/or for kids too.
Extra tip: Remember to hit “apply”. Usually with other booking platforms, when you click outside the calendar, your selection is saved but not with Airbnb. You have to click “apply”.
TIP No. 3
The following options home type, price, instant book, trip type, and more filters are personal preference. Usually, I set the home type to “Entire place” because I don’t like sharing with other people and gives you more privacy as well. Furthermore, sometimes it makes check in and out easy. A lot of places have a little lockbox, where they keep the key and provide you with the unlock code, so you can get it whenever you arrive and not have to wait for the landlord to come and hand you the keys.
!Remember to click apply again!
TIP No. 4
Normally if on a budget, I would set the price slider to the maximum I am ready to pay for a night plus few extra bucks and once more click apply. But if I am looking for a specific type of accommodation and price is not an issue, I would just leave it to its default parameters and look for the place I like the most.
The instant book is the next search filter. What that option does is- It lets you select only the homes that can be booked instantly, without the host approval. By default, most homes require the host’s approval.
TIP No. 6
Under trip type, you will find 2 options to chose from “Family trip” or “Work trip”. If you click the “Family trip” you will get results with 5 stars reviews from families and essentials like a full-size kitchen. The “work trip” will only show properties that have wi-fi, workspace, and self-check-in.
TIP No. 7
The “More filter” tab opens a huge drop down menu, that will let you narrow down the search to the number of bathrooms if you wish. In my experience, the Super Host option is the most powerful. If you chose this, it will show you homes hosted by people who have at least 4.8* rating, they have 0 cancellations, usually, respond to question in 24h and/ or have had at least 10 stays per year. I’ve stayed with 3 Superhost so far and always had an amazing experience, it turns out that the “title” is just right.
If you completed the steps with me so far. You would be looking at something similar to this. Of course, not the same since choosing different dates and filters will show you different options.
What I really love about the interface is that you can very easily scroll and see the properties. Their brief description and price per night are also shown. Another cool feature is the map. For example, if you hover your mouse over the home post, you can see where it is located on the map, or you can click on the price tag directly on the map and it will show you a summary of the selected home.
Keep in mind that the location is not fully disclosed before booking and it just shows a general area but I find it to be pretty accurate.
New types of homes added to the portal are “Airbnb PLUS“. Those are homes which have been verified by Airbnb to be of good quality and comfort. Just another step to bringing you a piece of mind in my opinion. I believe that this is only for US homes at the moment, but they will probably expand the program.
Make sure to also check the Airbnbmag. I think about it as a blog. It will show you different homes that are in some way extraordinary, or homes that offer experiences as well. It will feature the top experiences they have had posted recently like this Dragon Boat Carnival. Definitely worth checking out.
Things to keep in mind when booking with Airbnb:
- Prepayment in advance is required. Your Total for the property consists of: the Price per night X number of nights + Cleaning fee (different and preset for every property) + Service fee.
- Make sure you read the cancellation policy before you pay! All homes have very different policies. Some of them would accept your cancellation and issue a refund. Some of them would cancel but not issue a refund for cleaning and service fee or would keep 50% of the price per night for the total number of nights. Other properties would have very strict cancellation policies and would not even consider refunding you. So, READ before you BOOK.
- Make the whole listing a must read for you, before clicking book. Simply because sometimes there are things that are not quite as clear on the pictures. It is always a good practice to read about the property in detail to make sure it will fit your needs before paying for it since the cancellation policies are sometimes harsh. I find it useful to read the reviews of people who have stayed there to get a general feel for the place and the host.
- After the booking is completed and you have paid. Wait for the host to approve your stay and get in touch with them. Provide them with your check-in time and specifics if any. Sometimes hosts require extra information about you and your guests like names, nationality, and passport. I ran into that while booking my accommodation in Japan. People seem to be very cautious about who stays in their homes. I didn’t find the requirements so tight when using it in the US or Europe.
If you are traveling a lot, you might want to get in touch with Airbnb and considering becoming a host. When you register, you will see the tab as the first one in the navigation panel. It will also give you an estimate of how much you can make renting your home in a month. You can host yourself or you can have a professional company to do it for you. I find that especially useful if you have a property that you can make work for you.
Last but not least, Airbnb has a very good Reward program
If you consider inviting your friends to sign up they will get $40 in travel credit. The best part though is that you will get $20 dollars too. It is very good if you are traveling with your friends, they sign up and get the $40 travel credit. Then they pay for the stay with their account and you can save $40 on the first trip using the credit. Then you can use your $20 for future trips.
Airbnb is picking up speed very fast among other similar services like VRBO, which I will review separately. I, personally, am liking it a lot. I have used it 5-6 times already and have never been disappointed. The description was always accurate, the price was amazing and never had issues with hosts.
It has been a great experience for me. I hope you have a great stay too!
Have you stayed in an Airbnb before? If yes, how did you like it? If no, how do you feel about this accommodation type? Leave a comment below, let’s chat about it.