My 5 Likes & Dislikes After Finally Staying in an Airbnb

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Likes & Dislikes After Finally Staying at an Airbnb logo

My 5 Likes & Dislikes After Finally Staying in an Airbnb

Airbnb is the first thing to shake up the hotel world in a long time.  It allowed people to make extra income off of their place and it gave travelers options outside of normal cookie cutter hotels.  Many people love Airbnb and others can not stand it.  I had actually never stayed in one until my recent Amsterdam trip and I wanted to share my 5 likes & dislikes after finally staying in an Airbnb.

My buddy who had his issues with Airbnb gift cards still had the credit on his account.  When it came time for him to cover a few nights he wanted to use that balance sitting in his account so that is how I was roped into staying at an Airbnb.

My 5 Likes After Staying in an Airbnb

Let’s start out with the good stuff:

Likes & Dislikes After Finally Staying at an Airbnb street

More Options/Different Neighborhoods

One of the big draws for Airbnb is that it gives you a wider variety of options.  Hotels are going to be where the people are and in the tourist areas.  With Airbnb since it is people renting out their place or their spare room there will be a greater variety of neighborhoods offered to you versus what the hotel industry will offer.

More Unique Properties

This may be the biggest selling point.  Airbnb has properties that simply ooze uniqueness. In a world where weird is now cool this is a big draw for people.  We have even shared some of the more unique properties out there on Miles to Memories.

The location we stayed in was pretty unique.  It was a traditional old school Amsterdam walk up.  Those stairs were no joke!  But the really unique thing was that we had to enter through a tattoo parlor as well. When you come home at night and you have to unlock and re-lock a tattoo parlor, that is something I never thought I would do while traveling.  It is a part of the reason we got the place so cheap which is next on the list.

Likes & Dislikes After Finally Staying at an Airbnb parlor
My buddy taking a rest in the tattoo parlor at the end of the night before heading up the 4 flights of stairs in our Airbnb.
Better Prices

Airbnb usually offers a better bang for your buck versus hotels, unless you are using points.  If you are willing to risk messing around with Airbnb gift cards that is another way to cut the cost even further.

Our Airbnb was right around the corner from the Waldorf Astoria, which is an amazing area to be staying in the city of Amsterdam.  Just steps from Rembrandtplein Square is a great place to be and it came at 20% of the cost of the nearby Waldorf.

It doesn’t stop at just the room rate though since you can often save on food with a provided kitchen to cook in etc. There are multiple ways that Airbnb helps you reduce your cost.

A Better Fit For Families/Large Groups

This is a big one for families or groups that have more than 5 people.  Most hotels, especially in Europe cap how many people can stay in the room.  In the US that magic number is usually 5 and in Europe it could be 3 or 4.  But with an Airbnb you could get multiple bedrooms and added space for the same price as a double bed room down the road.  That amounts to huge savings, more convenient, and a better overall experience for families and larger groups.

A More Immersive Experience

This one is what many millennials are after.  If you want a true authentic experience or you want to truly immerse yourself in the local culture what better way to do it than to be among the local people. If you live where they live for a few days you get a taste of their day to day lives.  You will also see areas that most tourists never frequent.  Airbnb stays can help encourage you to get outside the tourist trap areas and get a more diverse experience when traveling.

My 5 Dislikes After Staying at an Airbnb

That is a pretty good list of likes but there are downsides as well.  Some of them are too much for people to handle:

No Points/Rewards System

This is the main reason I had never stayed at an Airbnb before.  There was no way to “hack it” for free rooms.  If you have a lot of paid stays then you can save money staying at an Airbnb vs a Hotel.  You could always use travel eraser cards to wipe off Airbnb stays but they are tougher to rack up huge balances for.

Likes & Dislikes After Finally Staying at an Airbnb dirty
Missing pillow cases 🙁
Consistency Is Non Existent

The thing I love about Hyatt hotels, and Hyatt Place in particular, is that they are consistent.  From city to city and hotel to hotel they are usually on a similar par level.  That is pretty much impossible to come by with Airbnb since you will never stay with the same “company” (individual) when moving around with Airbnb. That is a draw for some and a huge negative for others.

You Have to Complain to an Owner vs an Employee Which is Awkward

If you run into issues then you need to work with your host to correct them.  The host can sometimes be on site but they will more than likely be off site which makes it more difficult.  It isn’t as easy as calling, or walking, downstairs to get it corrected like with a hotel.  You have to track them down and if it is in the middle of the night you may need to wait till the morning or pay a fee (lost key anyone).

It could also be the host’s house or a place they have an emotional attachment to.  If you have a complaint they could take offense or take it personally.  For the most part this won’t happen but it is a potential issue that makes things a little more awkward.  It is not a simple business transaction like when you are dealing with a hotel employee.

Likes & Dislikes After Finally Staying at an Airbnb messy
Missing those nicely tucked sheets right now
Cleanliness is Not Always on the Same Level

Don’t get me wrong there are hotels with cleaning issues, I have had rooms that were not properly cleaned.  But you can change to another room or they will send someone up to change the sheets, sometimes multiple times!

We had a few different issues, like no pillow cases on the second bed’s pillows.  The biggest problem was that we didn’t notice until we came back for the night.  Since it was too late to call the owner I had to steal one from the bed downstairs.  There was also only soap in the bathroom and none in the kitchen which meant going up and down the stairs to clean your hands etc.  These are minor things but they would either never happen in hotels or would be remedied within a few minutes, no matter what time it was.

No Perks/Amenities

I am a perks snob sometimes.  I like free breakfast, I love awesome pools and great on property restaurants are always a welcomed plus.  You get none of that with Airbnb…or as they say “no soup for you”!

If you have status from a card like the Amex Aspire or Ascend card (or the Surpass or whatever they are calling it now) then you want to use it.  Or maybe you have a Globalist buddy book a guest of honor reservation for you to get upgrades etc. With Airbnb you get what you pay for, there are not extras.

Would I Do It Again?

Would I do it again? I am leaning towards probably not.  Unless it is an awesome location, an extended family trip or my buddy chooses it when it is his turn to pay again 🤣.

The main reason is that I prefer to know what I am getting.  Even reading reviews of a host does not guarantee that it will work out the same as it has in the past.  And without another room to switch too or someone to complain to in order to get proper compensation you are kind of stuck.

Airbnb is not known for being the most customer friendly or service oriented company either.  For those reasons I will stick with hotels going forward. I do get why others would go the Airbnb route and I can’t disagree with their reasons, it just isn’t for me.

 

 

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24 COMMENTS

  1. A couple of years back, I stayed in an Airbnb in Santa Cruz, Chile (the middle of the wine region). For $160/night, we got a villa with its own pool, in the middle of an organic garden. The host encouraged us to take as much vegetables and eggs as we wanted, so we made him dinner one night and had some wonderful conversation about growing up in Chile and how he met his Swedish wife. Don’t think I’ll ever find a hotel with that kind of experience.

  2. Mark, I really think you and I are cut from the same cloth.

    Hilarious I read your article today (no internet at my AirBnB last night…). That was my first AirBnB experience as well. We booked near Volcano National Park as I wanted quick access. I had it booked for 2 nights and I’m currently in a suite at a Marriott in Kona apparently paying for both. AirBnB did not respond to me in the last 12 hours.

    As I was lying in bed hating life last night I was already writing my article on the experience. Whenever I have a few minutes on vacation or when I get back home I’ll actually write it.

    Thanks for the much needed laugh after a very sleepless night.

    • Bill that sounds awful but I have to be honest – I can’t wait to read about it 🙂

      Hope the rest of the trip goes a lot better!

  3. Has anyone had experience with the new Airbnb Luxe? I have been receiving lots of advertisements about the new luxury Airbnb they started under Luxe. Airbnb says all Luxe homes pass a 300 point inspection. I guess its like the FH&R program for Airbnb.

    https://www.airbnb.com/luxury

  4. Your assessment of AirBnb is similar to mine. I’ve only used it twice and both times were in more rural areas with limited hotel options. Both stays were fine but nothing I would seek out again. I’ve also had friends run into significant issues with very little recourse through AirBnb. I’m very much a hotel guy, especially with how many points I earn through my work travel that I can put towards future personal stays. I get the appeal of AirBnb for paid stays, areas with few hotel options or groups at something like a beach house. But otherwise, I’ll pass.

  5. I was able to add five gift cards to my Airbnb account recently all at the same time. And this was prior to booking . So they must’ve changed the system.

    • The problem is more if you pay for half the booking (which many people do) you can not pay for the other half with gift cards or your balance which is just stupid.

  6. Just booked my first Air BnB stay last night for 3 nights in Bayeux, France. It’s a new property and only has 2 reviews so far. Keep your fingers crossed!

  7. You’re right that it’s a YMMV situation but we’ve never been disappointed (SF, three Hawaiian islands, London 3x, Paris 3x, Rome once, Seattle, Portland). Also, we usually find a place with a washer/dryer (and that isn’t hard to do) to ensure we don’t have to check bags. I don’t like foregoing hotel reward points, but overall I find the AB&B/VRBO experience richer.

  8. I normally do not stay at AirBnB much due to the same reasons you mentioned above. I agree their gift cards are also a headache to use since your not able to just load the GC balance to your Airbnb account and you can only ise 1 GC per booking. Headache to use if you purchase mutiple GCs.

    Although will use Airbnb only for remote areas that do not have hotels I have status and normal stay at. One great example is Airbnb in Cuba, for sure the best option and it also validates your entry Visa “support of the people”. I stayed at some really great places throughout the country and all of my host were too notch. My wife and I rented a one place for $40 a night it had 6 bedrooms & 4 floors with a rooftop access on the 3rd & 4th floor, amazing place and we had the entire home/castle to ourself. Most host in Cuba also offered a home cooked breakfast for an extra $5 per person well well worth the money.

    Another perk is in Molokai, HI. The island only has 1 hotel. I booked through Airbnb and the host also offered us a car for a small extra price which made everything more then worth it. The only car rental on the island would have cost me more then my Airbnb stay alone.

    • Those sound like awesome uses Mike. I am in the same boat I think at times it makes a ton of sense but it will never be my option one or two (I don’t think). But when it is the best option I would do it again.

  9. Mark what we consider perks can come with certain Airbnb’s. I’ve stayed in many and some have been fantastic – and I don’t mean expensive. Our best experiences have been in Verona, Italy and I’ve stayed in three there. The first one left us a great bottle of local wine plus simple snacks, coffee and water but they also stocked other wine and some snack packs in the frig that you could purchase on the honor system, you simply left cash for whatever you used (prices were marked and were cheap). The second one was a pretty basic apartment and cheap but they gave us a bottle of wine, eggs, bread, coffee and other snacks, plus olive oil and basic seasonings. This one also had enough dish soap, shampoo, and soap for the 4 of us for the 3 nights we were staying. The one we just stayed in was so nice and while they didn’t have a bottle of wine for us, they apartment was well equipped with things like olive oil and other seasoning and spices which makes a difference when you are trying to cook meals plus it had laundry soap. The plus side for families that are traveling abroad and staying in airbnb’s is just not bringing all the travel size shampoo, toothpaste, etc. We have just been buying full size once we get there and discarding it before we travel home. I try to make sure I mention these things in reviews so others know what to expect.

  10. Wow–never stayed in an airbnb before!?! Glad you finally made the jump. Like you say, if travelling with family or friends, to me, there’s just no comparison. When i’m travelling with my young kids, they can go to bed in their own bedroom and my wife and i can hang in the living room. So much better than having to basically go to bed with your kids or quietly hang out near the hotel room door or something to not wake them (my kids are too young to be in their own hotel room).

    Also, i’d disagree on the no perks. There are all kinds of amenities depending on the property. I’ve rented a two bedroom apartment in puerto vallarta with a pool, delicious onsite restaurant, etc. I’ve also rented a room on a farm outside Malibu with a home-cooked breakfast included, free beer/wine in the evening, and tons of animals for my kids to interact with during the day.

  11. Mark, very much appreciate your perspective. I’ve stayed in dozens of AirBnBs, VRBOs… If going somewhere by myself for a day or two, hotels it is. But if with family or my wife for multiple days, an AirBnB is for us the way to go — way more space, in a locals neighborhood (typically), usually the ability to wash and dry clothes and a full kitchen. (Spaghetti per person at a hotel $15, spaghetti per person cooked yourself at an AirBnB $1.50).
    I only rent through superhosts (yes, I know that there are plenty of non superhosts who have terrific places), scour the reviews, email with the owner and if i don’t get really clear answers i move on and only stay in places that have 8+ positive reviews. This has worked for me so far.
    I would highly recommend people rent from AirBnB if staying for more than a few days or if there are multiple people in the party. But choose VERY carefully. Some say renting an AirBnB is like buying a used car. Pretty good analogy. I review AirBnBs like I would a used car — reviews are like CarFax and if the current owner doesn’t give me the answers I want, I move on.

    • Great tips Paul and for groups I do think it is the way to go. Or for longer trips like you say since you get more space to spread out most of the time.

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