Monday, June 15, 2015

Why I'm not a big fan of AirBnB

Airbnb is a popular alternative to staying in hotels. Through the website, travelers can stay in the home or apartments of locals. Heck, guests can even stay in some non-traditional accommodations such as barges and tree houses.

The reaction to Airbnb has been varied. Many travelers are delighted with it, citing finding good deals on places to stay. Many are happy to have a kitchen for cooking their own meals and an opportunity to stay in a neighborhood of the city they're visiting. On the other hand, sometimes neighbors and local governments aren't keen on it, as it might turn a residential area into a business area with no permission.

Here's my feeling on Airbnb: I'm just not that into it. A group of us have used it before and I have no complaints with the property where we stayed; our host was awesome. However, it's not something that I'll seek out normally. I'll list why I'm just not feeling it with Airbnb. Btw, these are my feelings. You don't have to feel the same way; that's cool, and I'm not trying to change your mind. There's no need to take it personally if you think Airbnb is the best thing ever.

  • Price: the majority of the places I have looked at cost as much, or sometimes more, than a decent budget hotel. If I'm going to stray away from the stability of renting a hotel, I'm looking for a better deal than staying in one. Usually I travel with just one friend so hotels tend to be cheaper. For larger groups, Airbnb might be cheaper. Then again, with the ridiculous amount of extra money that some hosts charge per additional person, it might not be cheaper after all.
  •  Incredibly high security deposits: I've seen ridiculous deposits, such as 400 euros, on many Airbnb properties. I can understand the owner's point of view; it's a risk to take on an unknown person in his home. However, I'm not keen on such a huge hold being put on my credit card. I just want to sleep at the place, not tear it down, for goodness sakes.
  •  Ridiculously high cleaning fees: I've found places that seem to be a good deal, then I read the fine print. One place was 40 euros to stay per night (in the middle of nowhere) but an additional cleaning fee was another 40 euros! This was completely nuts to me; I could have stayed at a decent chain hotel with more amenities in a bigger city for that much. The only cleaning needed would be to wash the linens and that costs nowhere near 40 euros. 
  • The inconvenience of not having a reception desk: this usually translates to having to play phone tag with the host to be let in. This is a pain in the neck when you don't have a cell phone that will work in the area or it would be excessively expensive to use mobile minutes. Then comes the fun of trying to find a pay phone; many don't accept coins any more so have fun with that one and trying to figure out where to get a calling card. When I roll into a city, especially after a late flight, the last thing I want to do is try to figure out how to call someone to be let into the property. Then, what happens if the person doesn't hear his phone? I also don't like to set an exact time to meet someone. I prefer the convenience of having a reception desk where I can roll up within a chunk of time. It can be hard to figure out how long it'll take to arrive somewhere, from the airport for example, and I don't want to stress about being late. I enjoy the freedom of making my own schedule and not having to check it against a third party.
  • The added time and effort it takes to find a place: I tried to find a place in Paris, about 3 weeks before we were there. I carefully read the description of the property, made sure that the host's calendar showed availability for those dates, and then would write a pleasant message to double check that everything was available. I wrote to about 20 people. Even though I had carefully checked to see that the dates were available, I either received a response that it wasn't available after all or I received no response. I had spent hours doing this and found it incredibly frustrating. Even worse? After I received the "no" answer, I checked the host's calendar a little later and saw that the date was still available. What the heck! Why even have a calendar when the person isn't going to keep it up to date? After wasting days on this (between searching for places and waiting for responses), I said "forget it," found a place on, and was set within minutes. Ain't nobody got time for that.
  • Many communities are banning or restricting Airbnb: to be honest, I can understand many of the reasons why they do it: it can be disruptive to neighborhoods; properties might not be zoned for business like that; homes aren't inspected for safety of the guests; and often the owners aren't paying taxes on their Airbnb earnings. From my point of view, I don't want to have the worry of my booking being cancelled last minute because the host has run afoul of regulations.
When I travel and I'm going to pay to stay somewhere instead of staying with friends, I want a simple, hassle free stay. I'm looking for easy check-in and check-out times, no ridiculous fees or policies, and a standard experience. For that reason, I find a hotel instead of using something like Airbnb.


  1. I've never tried it and have heard mixed stories about it. Whenever I've looked up some places to stay I've also noticed that once you add in the cleaning fee etc, you aren't actually saving that much money.

  2. I'm actually very glad to read this. Everyone else seems to be a fan, and I admit I really want to try it (haven't yet). Preparing for Rome last year I had narrowed down to one property that would require public transport to the main part of town and also a hotel from which we could walk everywhere. In the end the price difference was negligible. My daughter and I decided on the hotel and were happy. My husband will not try AirBnB, I think because of the amount of unknowns.

    Through AirBnB I think I only contacted three people, and every one responded within hours. I'm still intrigued, but I so agree about the simple, hassle-free stay. Calling with my cell phone in a foreign country is very expensive, so I never do it. I'd have to use it with AirBnB to contact the host however many times, which would add more cost over a hotel. In the end if I'm not saving any money, a hotel sounds wiser.

  3. I agree - I will only use it if it's significantly cheaper than a hotel (i.e. starting from 15 euros). My friends liked it because we could cook at the place and perhaps save money, but since the place was so expensive to start with, we didn't save anything. Plus, to be honest, I don't remotely care about cooking at home. Since I don't eat meat, my meals are generally never expensive and when I travel, I can certainly make do with two meals a day. It is probably cheaper in my case to eat out or grab a salad from a grocery store than it is to participate in elaborate group meals.