It’s not the first time that I’ve stayed in an Airbnb. It is however, the first time I’ve paid for an Airbnb (having worked with a few owners before) and I am keen to review the experience given some of the recent criticism of Airbnb. Claims that the prices are becoming inflated, owners unreliable and listings misleading have piqued my interest. With this in mind, I am sharing my experience of popping my Airbnb cherry for any other Airbnb virgins.
What is Airbnb?
If you are unfamiliar with Airbnb, it is a website allowing you to book holiday lettings including shared apartments, villas, bedrooms and even couches! I even saw a listing for a tent in someone’s gardens, so an Airbnb may defy your normal expectations of holiday accommodation.
The booking process
Using a £25 discount provided by a friend (you can have one too if you use this link), I booked a three-night stay in the Aurelia Apartment in Ohrid, Macedonia. The booking process is a little weird if I’m honest with some properties requiring you to be pre-approved. It seems strange that someone you have never met might be looking at your Airbnb profile and making a snap judgement based on limited information.
There have also been some accusations about Airbnb hosts being racially discriminatory but I am not sure I buy into this. How would you know why you were rejected?
In our case, we were approved quickly thus confirming the booking as you have already entered your payment details. There are many properties which seem to allow you to book directly (without being pre-approved) but I can’t comment on that process not having selected one of those.
I wonder if the pre-approval is a hangover from the days when Airbnb started out selling couches and bedrooms in people’s houses. Understandably, in those circumstances, you might want to approve someone sharing your living space.
Personally, I feel it would be better if Airbnb removed this element of the process as it is open to abuse and is more hassle. That said, I found our booking to be efficient and painless and was able to pay via AMEX (always a bonus for those airmiles!)
We may have been incredibly lucky but our hostess was incredibly impressive from start to finish. She offered to pick us up at the airport, arranged our taxi to the bus station, gave us a ton of information and responded to all our queries swiftly. Now that is what I call service!
This screenshot gives you a little flavour of the apartment which was bright and airy with great views and modern fittings.
Our apartment was exactly as advertised in the perfect location just minutes from the bustle of Ohrid’s old town and lakeshore. With a bakery next door, the bus ticket agent around the corner and supermarkets close by, the apartment is an awesome find.
We paid £82 for a three-night stay after applying the £25 ‘friend’ discount. Even at full price, the accommodation cost less than £35 a night. With the discount, my dad and I were paying less than £20 each for a fab and funky modern apartment with a LAKE VIEW, no less!
I’m not going to be able to book a hotel room for that price plus the cooking facilities are a real bonus. There’s no better way to start the day than with a hearty breakfast.
On our day of departure, we received a request for feedback which was easy to complete and allows simple rating of the property and owner.
The hosts also complete a review of the guests which is a concept I am not particularly keen on. I suspect that this is again due to Airbnb’s history.
I popped my cherry with Airbnb and liked it – a lot! I’d much rather have an apartment with some character, in a great location, than pay a fortune for a hotel. Whilst I’m not a big fan of cooking when travelling, it’s nice to know I can and my first Airbnb was superb value.
For people seeking holiday rentals, Airbnb could prove to be a much better value option than your typical holiday rental company.
Interested in our Ohrid trip?
What experience have you had with Airbnb?
If you have used Airbnb, I would love to know what your experience was like. Feel free to jump in below.