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How To Pop Your Airbnb Cherry And Save Money

Airbnb Pinterest for Ohrid 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.

Airbnb screenshot

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?

Our booking

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!)

Post booking

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!

Aurelie apartment on Airbnb
Our apartment

This screenshot gives you a little flavour of the apartment which was bright and airy with great views and modern fittings.

Aurelia apartment

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.

Sunset on Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Glorious sunset on Lake Ohrid from the Aurelie apartment

Post departure

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.

My verdict

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?

Click here for more on Ohrid and Macedonia or watch the brief video below. Otherwise, if you wish to start your Airbnb adventure with £25 off, register using this link.

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.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of TravelTheGlobe4Less. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 80 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money saving travel tips

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20 comments

  1. I totally love using Airbnb! It’s such a great way to discover a new city with local hosts 😀

    • Yes I agree. We have just returned from South Africa where we stayed in three fabulous Airbnb but our favourite was on the beach in Hermanus. The renting couple lives next door and were really friendly. We invited them round from pre dinner drinks one night and it was really lovely to hear about their culture and what things are like now in SA. Just one of the reasons I love Airbnb

  2. I’ve only ever had good experiences with Airbnb, particularly as I prefer staying somewhere less touristy and it makes me feel more like a local. It’s also great to get local tips and advice from the host.

  3. I have had nothing but amazing experiences with AirBNB. I love getting that local feel for a steal when visiting new places. Also, when I lived in Asheville, my landlord actually rented out the back half of our house on AirBNB so it’s actually really fun on that side of it too. I loved getting to chat with tourists, and even help take care of issues. It’s a great tool, in my opinion!

  4. Airbnb can be great, I’ve had some successful stays with it – but the booking system if you don’t have instant book is a pain. A lot of hosts don’t update their calendar properly so when I’ve contacted hosts that are showing as available they say they are booked. I’ve also heard several stories of them being cancelled by the host at the last minute. Hotels are more convenient in that sense, but I do prefer to stay in a home if I can!

  5. Haha I love the title. My Airbnb cherry has already been popped though and I am a huge fan! Love their styles, rates and homes, esp since I prefer apartments over hotels while traveling (so I can cook if needed).

  6. Oh man, I’m always surprised when I hear someone hasn’t tried AirBnb yet! I’ve only had excellent experiences with it, and often times it provides better, more affordable accommodation then regular booking sites!

  7. Personally, I have used Airbnb (in the US and otherwise) multiple times and (luckily) have never had a bad experience. I always make sure to email the hosts before I book to see how responsive they are and get a feel for them before i book. I love having options when I travel, so while I don’t exclusively use Airbnb, it’s definitely convenient for certain situations!

  8. I am big fan of AIRbnb – I have been using their site for about 2 years now. The coolest one I stayed in was in Hana, Maui – beach front and you could hear the waves all night.

  9. I think staying in a home like this is a great way to experience local culture. As far as my personal Airbnb experience goes, I’ve only had one weird experience (nothing creepy, just the arrangement was funky), and one where the neighborhood was not what I thought it would be. The people, though, have always been great!

  10. I still have my airbnb cherry and I’m not sure if I want to pop it anytime soon. I know I’m a little slow to jump onboard the future but I’ve heard many stories where these places are becoming so expensive to locals because all the homes are rented out to tourists. What are your thoughts on that?

    • I don’t think that issue can really be blamed on Airbnb. It’s a simple economic issue of supply and demand and a problem in both developing and first world countries. Only this week I’ve heard about cases in big cities in the UK and Canada where locals are finding it difficult to get on the housing ladder because of Chinese entrepreneurs buying up property. If the legislation allows it….

      • We have this problem in Amsterdam too. The government is trying to figure out how to handle it. One way is that if you are an owner who resides at your property, you can only rent on sites like Airbnb 30 days out of the year. But yes, it’s a very big problem as someone who wants to buy and live in an apartment in Amsterdam.

        • Yes unfortunately it happens everywhere. The only way to prevent it is to stop investors buying which also has has adverse impacts on the economy. In the Uk they have recently changed the tax rules to make it less attractive.

  11. This was interesting to read as I have just returned from my first Airbnb stay in Strasbourg. I have to say (like you) I was really lucky with my hosts and the studio apartment I stayed in was great. Glad you had a good first paid experience too. 🙂

  12. We do prefer to use AIRBNB if we’re traveling with a big group. Our first experience was incredibly good but the second one was horrible. That’s bound to happen though, even hotels are hit and miss. Glad that you liked it. 🙂

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