There are many ways of travelling and even more options when it comes to accommodation. From a five star hotel, offered by a travel agency to a tent carried in a backpack and put up in a camp chosen by us. Internet appears to be very helpful with organising holidays by yourself. It has many portals for you to check such as Booking.com or Hostel World. Both of them are search engines, listing hotels, hostels and other types of accommodation available in required dates.
A portal, which I want to write about is Airbnb. A platform available as a website or an application, adds security and quality to the idea of couchsurfing. After signing up, Airbnb connects those who want to rent their place, with you, a potential guest. The application becomes more and more popular and currently brings together hosts in one hundred ninety one countries and thirty four thousands cities. Not only rooms or houses are available for you but also very unusual places like castles or iglo.
Type in your desired destination in the search box, add the dates and choose the type of accommodation, in few moments you receive a bunch of possibilities. The site allows you to narrow down the results based on price – scroll the price range – or based on location – zoom in the given map.
Note that the given prices are costs of the whole accommodation per night, not per person. Click on an offer to see the total costs of your stay. Airbnb charges a percentage fee, which is detailed in the total amount. Sometimes the host asks for additional fee for cleaning. This is why it’s best to read the offer carefully. Make sure, that you choose a place, which has all that you need, look for Amenities section. Save the offers, you are interested in, by clicking on Save to Wish List and adding it to a new folder. There is no need of taking notes or worrying that you will miss a location.
When it comes to booking, Airbnb allows the hosts to select one of two options: Instant book or Request to book. The first option allows you to automatically book the place, without sending a message to the owner. You will receive a confirmation email once the owner accepted your booking and money will be taken from your payment card. Request to book requires getting in touch with the owner. Airbnb directs you to a request form in which you declare your interest. You will receive a message from your host and additional email confirming or rejecting your booking. You need to reconfirm this booking and only then money will be taken from your card. This alternative seems to be longer, but works better when you happen to be an impulsive shopper.
As you noticed, searching and booking process is very similar to sites like booking.com. So, what makes Airbnb so successful, even though there is a registration and pay a fee?
The biggest benefit of Airbnb, in my opinion, is the fact, that your holiday stay becomes more unique and intimate. From the very beginning you get to know the owner of the house, you know who will host you and will make you feel at home. There is a concrete person behind each offer, not a big company, but a local host, which knows the neighbourhood and is great source of information. They suggest where to have a tasty and not expensive dinner, where you can get the best bites for lunch. They tell you about a concert of a local band or a festival taking place in few days. Share opinions about everyday life, about history and culture. They are happy to answer your questions. Rarely can you count on a similar interaction in a hotel.
Staying in someone’s home is something special. It’s not a standard room with the same borring decor, a minibar and a set of white towels. Thanks to Airbnb you get to know the place from inside. You get a chance to spend few days in a house decorared according to the owner’s taste, influenced by local trends and culture. This house is a collection of the owner’s experiences.
And so for example, in London you stay in a Victorian house, with a narrow staircase covered with a carpet. In Treviso you get an accommodation in a big house with high ceiling and huge windows, surrounded by stone pines. In Szczecin you need to get a lift up the nine floor of a concrete block of flats and in Salento you walk though a coffee plantation. Each of those places is special and unique.
Wherever you go, open the windows and listen to the conversations, hear the music played by a neighbour, collect the sounds around you. For those few days feel as if you live there, are part of this community. Grab a coffee in a corner cafe shop, buy fruits at the nearby market. Enjoy simple moments. Those type of attractions are not offered by a regular hotel.
If you want to experience more, become a resident of a place, meet the locals and their stories, and enjoy mindful holidays, Airbnb is great choice. I recommend it to everyone.