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The Ins & Outs of Airbnb

5 October 2016 | Mri Grout - A Lifelong Vagabond

Airbnb is yet another option available for travellers and businessmen and women to search for a broader range of accommodation. They offer properties all across the globe and at both ends of the price spectrum, having something for budget travelers (like barns and campervans) and the ridiculously rich holidayers (like private freaking islands and historical castles) alike.

However, its biggest benefit is found when you want to stay in one place for an extended period of time for many hosts offer weekly and monthly discounts, which makes them a heck of a lot cheaper than even the biggest chain of budget hostels. For reference, we once stayed at a lovely one bedoom apartment inbetween Paris and the northwest coast for a mere £140/week. This price, however, was reached with the free £25 credit given when one signs up through an Airbnb friend invite.

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What Room Types Does Airbnb Offer?

1. Shared

I don't really get this option on Airbnb as they're usually not much cheaper than a private room, and if you're simply looking to make genuine relations abroad then Couchsurfing would seem a better idea. For one, on CS you're not paying for said relation through the booked room so they're more likely to be made because you two (or three or four or whatever) actually connect, and 2. Couchsurfers are usually also up for being full on tour guides if their schedule permits, allowing you to discover all of the hidden gems of their wonderful city.

However, neither Rob nor I have actually booked a shared room on Airbnb so others' reasons for doing so might not be clear to us for that reason; so if anyone has experience doing so, we'd love to hear the reasoning in the comments below.

2. Private

The option of booking a private room on Airbnb, however, definitely has its appeal. It's more desirable than hotel rooms simply because of the cosier nature. There're books on shelves, rugs on floors, and an overall homey feel that offers more relaxation and comfort. And though the price for a private room on Airbnb is roughly the same as that in a budget hotel, on Airbnb they also normally give access to a living room, kitchen, and less used bathroom (though not always so make sure to read all of the information provided).

3. Entire Place

Surprisingly, but wonderfully, booking an entire place on Airbnb can be found for not much more money than the other two options, especially if you're staying with enough friends, business associates, or fellow travelers to fill all off the rooms. For instance, there is a six bedroom, ten bed castle up in Scotland that was built in the 12th century and is only going for £500/night on the weekends. Split that between ten people (limit 13), and £50/night to stay in a freaking castle isn't much. And with these, you definitely get a kitchen which will also allow you to save additional money by not having to eat out.

**Random Budget Tip: Some of these Airbnb places would make for an awesome and relatively cheap wedding venue (with accommodation!).

Airbnb 'Hidden' Fees

These fees aren't really hidden due to them being listed in the actual booking form. However, they are not listed in the price per night, which is all you see when searching. This makes sense as they're a fixed fee regardless of the nights spent, but it can be a high annoyance when you get to the booking page and realize the final price is a fair bit higher than you expected.

So, these 'hidden' Airbnb fees are:

  • Cleaning Fee - Normally charged even if you don't make a mess. They can also be nearly as expensive as the price for a night, which makes them absolutely ridiculous. However, luckily, not all hosts charge them and some of those that do, actually make them a reasonable number.
  • Service Fee - These also range widely, with some costing around £20 and others around £3. They don't seem to be based on a fixed percentage, but I have no idea if the hosts themselves set the price of it.
  • Additional People Fee - This one gives us the most annoyance as some hosts will claim their place is for two guests, but then charge you for that second guest... So even though they tell you this before booking, it's freaking annoying. Just say it's for one person, but a maximum of two. Sheesh.

Airbnb Friend Invite Discount

For those that wish to sign up to Airbnb after reading this unbiased review (and the small rant about the fees), then I would suggest signing up via the below image. Not only will I get 'paid' to keep Lifelong Vagabonds afloat, but you'll also get £25 (or the currency equivalent) in free Airbnb credit. However, you can only use the Airbnb discount for bookings over £55, so think of it more like a free night somewhere.

If you liked 'The Ins & Outs of Airbnb' then check out these other budget travel tips:

The Ins & Outs of Airbnb Friend Invite review: