First time in Airbnb
I visited Seattle and Vancouver this summer, and for the first time I ended up staying in Airbnb apartments instead of hotels. Hotel prices in North America are high and the prices in Seattle and Vancouver were almost triple the price I usually pay in Europe.
Compared to the hotels I considered for this trip, I saved approximately 1,200 euros by booking Airbnb apartments. Eating “home” couple of times saved some money too. On a longer trip it was a real advantage to have a full kitchen and a washing machine in the apartments. The extra space compared to hotel rooms didn’t hurt either and the locations were even better than those hotels had.
Choosing and booking
When registering to the Airbnb website, I had to send them for example a copy of my passport and a real-time selfie. The person renting the apartment does not see those documents, but they see that I have sent them and therefore identified myself.
Booking itself wasn’t really different from booking a hotel. I made my choice based on price-quality ratio, and these two apartments also felt like the ones I want to stay in, which was definitely the right feeling. The booking in Vancouver was conditional to the approval of the person renting it, but the approval came very soon after the booking.
When making the booking, there is a possibility to send a message to the renter, which I of course did, especially because I did not have any previous feedback to prove my trustworthiness yet. Both renters answered quickly and the communication was quick, easy and pleasant both before, during and after my stay.
I paid half of the price after the booking and the second half couple of weeks before my stay. I’m not sure if this is the case every time, or just with larger sums. Airbnb sends the payment to the renter no earlier 24 hours after the check in, in case there is some issue with the apartment.
Arrival and stay
Both apartments had self-service check-in, so I did not meet the renters in person. The check-in info appeared to the Airbnb website approximately a week before my stay. I also contacted the renters through the Airbnb website to confirm my schedules and to get even more detailed info about the check-in and arrival. In this case the check-in means just getting the keys, there are no forms to fill like in hotels.
In both cities I got the keys from a key box by using a code. In Vancouver the key exchange box was in a grocery store next to the apartment. In both cities I returned the keys to the same boxes and the process was extremely convenient.
When checking out, I sorted the garbage and washed the dishes as instructed. There was no need to do more cleaning, as the cleaning fee was included in the price (it probably is the standard). As a good guest I left both hosts some Finnish chocolate and of course some stickers and postcards from How To City collection as a gift.
I expected that it might be a bit awkward to stay in someone else’s home, but it wasn’t. My first Airbnb experiences were really positive and I think that it is a valid option in the future too, especially on a longer trip.
So if you are about to book an Airbnb accommodation, pay attention to the location, description and house rules on the apartment and the comments from previous guests. On other words, the same things that you would look when booking any accommodation. Also remember to check that you have the entire apartment for yourself, and not just a room (unless that is what you want).