Top 15 Tips to Book a Perfect Airbnb Accommodation

7 October 2019

Ghent, Belgium
If you checked out my Europe 2019 itinerary post, I mentioned our stay arrangement for each city. All except 3 cities, where we stayed at a hotel in one and with friends in two others, were Airbnb. I love Airbnb app with a passion and it’s my go-to whenever we plan any trip. Half of my travel excitement comes from scrolling through this app and finding some hidden gems, reading review after review. The guest reviews are my favourite. They reveal the real deal behind all the glossy photos.
Why Airbnb?

If you want to experience the real country and its people, Airbnb is the way to go. You are forced to connect with locals and it’s amazing! Hosts are often the nicest people as they are in the business of helping you have a memorable holiday. Their eye is on the prize, which is a 5-star review. So don’t ever feel like you can’t ask them for help or suggestions, they are all the more eager to help.
Another reason I rate Airbnb over hotels is that its value for money. I pay less $ and get more rooms, amazing service and stay at a location I want. With hotels, the central ones are out of my budget and the ones on city fringes are away from all the action. Airbnb accommodations are everywhere, central or otherwise, and they come in all sizes and budgets.

Salzburg, Austria

Berlin, Germany
We've been using Airbnb for almost 3 years now and consequently have learnt a lot about how, when and where to book a good one. Our Europe 2019 trip was better planned and organised than Europe 2018, mostly due to the fact that I figured out how to bag a good accommodation. It can seriously make or break a holiday. It's still not a 100% success rate and probably never be because that's the nature of the service industry. Everyone will have a different experience. It's all subjective.
However, with these tips, I'm hoping you will get some headway.

If you have not used the Airbnb App before, here's my referral link. You can click through and download the App. You can get up to $50 off your first stay and once you complete the booking, I get about $30 credited to my Airbnb account. Win-win for everyone. Here's the link.

Here are my Top Tips:

1. Look for Superhosts - As per Airbnb website “Superhosts are experienced hosts who provide a shining example for other hosts, and extraordinary experiences for their guests. Once a host reaches Superhost status, a badge will automatically appear on their listing and profile to help you identify them.”

To have Superhost status on the app, hosts have to tick these 5 boxes -
"Step 1: Host at Least 10 Guests Each Year
Step 2: Respond to Guests Quickly
Step 3: Receive 5-Star Reviews, at least 80% of the Time
Step 4: Don't Back Out
Step 5: Maintain at Least a 4.8 Rating"
So there you have it, the description says it all! When you select Superhosts only feature, the properties that come up have at least 4.8/5 rating, which is pretty good. You could totally stay with new listings and less rated places for cheaper, but be prepared to gamble on your experience. I’m game for anything so I don’t mind unrated places, but my husband is very picky about accommodations. I still remember the time when he crossed Berlin off his list forever, after staying in a not-so-flash (by his standards) room. A bad room ruins the city for him so I aim to book good rooms consistently. A happy husband is the key to happy vacation. And vice versa.

Coming back to the point, pick Superhost properties.

2. Use the Location Feature- this one is a gamechanger. After you’ve picked your city and entered days/dates and hit enter, a list of properties will come up. You obviously have no idea where they are located in the city. The location map feature in the bottom right corner of your screen can tell you where exactly the property is. You can figure out how far it is from the city centre and if there’s a station nearby. You can compare two properties and pick one based on its location/proximity to a tourist attraction.

It is also possible to book a room the very last minute by searching where exactly your nearest available Airbnb accommodation is. IN REAL-TIME. We did this in Kotor (Montenegro). We wanted a room to crash at 9 pm after an arduous hike. We reached the city centre and picked a room that was right opposite where we were standing. It wouldn’t have been possible to book a room that was so close-by if it wasn’t for the location feature.


Kotor, Montenegro. This apartment was right in the middle of the old town centre and was booked in 5 minutes

3. Always Read the Reviews, as many as you humanly can- The reviews are where the real picture is. They tell you if the accommodation is as glossy as in the pictures. The travellers often mention distance to the nearest station, best coffee places nearby, closest bakery, things within walking distance, any disturbances during the night, ease of communication with the host, facilities actually available inside the property, etc etc. I take screenshots of anything that interests me, like a cheap pizza place recommendation.

4. Stay Central- This one is a no brainer but I can tell you hand on heart that I still fail at this sometimes (hello cheap apartment with Monstera's, on another side of the city!). And most times I regret it when we reach the accommodation tired and then have to figure out a way to get to the city centre. Think of it this way, you could be paying a little less for an off-central location, but when you have to stand and wait for a bus to city centre multiple times in a day, all costs add up, your time and the money, both.


I always get sucked into properties with all the plants

5. Proximity to Transport Hub- Let’s be real though, in cities like Berlin, London, Paris, it isn’t possible to stay bam right in the centre (what’s their centre anyway?), in that case staying as close as possible to a tube/metro station is my thumb rule. 1-2 minute walk from the station is ideal. 10 minutes is my cut off.

6. Look for Amenities You Need- We travel light and hence book Airbnb's with washing machine. A dryer is a rare commodity but the ones that have it are the best. If it's just a day in an apartment, we can do without this facility. In that case, I make sure the next accommodation absolutely has a washing machine. We wash clothes at night and they are dry and ready to be re-used the next morning. I’ll be sure to add this tip to my 'tips for travelling light' post as well.

Of course, it isn't always possible to pick accommodation with washer, in that case, sink + hand wash + drying rack is the answer to your prayers.

7. Add kitchen/Kitchenette to Your List of Must-Have Facilities if you like to save money and have a meal at home. We do. Also, because we love exploring supermarkets and buying random local things to try. All the cheese, bread and condiments! Hence, we always aim to have breakfast in the room. One heavy hearty meal at the start of the day really fuels us for more than half a day. This is where Airbnb has an edge over hotels. You don’t get a kitchen in a hotel unless it’s a penthouse; or you’ve paid extra for a grand buffet meal, which let's be real, for vegetarians, is more likely bread, cheeses, hashbrown and the likes. Not worth it, unless it’s a cheap add-on.


Kitchen in Paris apartment. Fresh bread from a supermarket across the road. 

8. Some hosts to provide breakfast as well. It’s mostly continental breakfast with some bread, yoghurt, cheese and juices but it’s damn delicious when it hasn’t cost you an arm and a leg. You can filter accommodation listings based on this offering and pick one that provides continental or cooked breakfast. It saves so much time in the morning.


Host provided fresh cream doughnuts from bakery early morning. Bruges, Belgium.

9. We personally like to stay in entire accommodation as opposed to a shared arrangement. We have done shared lodging in the past but haven’t enjoyed it as much as we enjoy having an entire place to ourselves. It costs more but we are happy to pay that price for the freedom and privacy, more so now, with a little baby in tow, waking up all hours of the night.

10. That brings me to the next point, do add the infant option when searching for accommodation in the App. It will bring up a list of family-friendly accommodations that can provide a cot and other baby needs when requested. Some of our accommodations also had baby toys. The joy on Aiza's face was priceless.


Baby room in Vienna apartment

11. If you don't want to wait for a reply from the host after you've put an offer to book, select the "Instant booking" filter. You can then book a place without having to wait for a reply. You just need to get in touch with the host later to discuss the check-in procedure.

12. The best Airbnb hosts reply within 24h, mostly less. If there's no reply within 48h after booking, search and book another listing.

13. When you don’t have Internet, Airbnb app will also send a message to your cellphone so you will still be able to read a reply/message from the host in case of limited connectivity. This has been a lifesaver some days.

14. Be a good guest- not only can you rate accommodations but hosts can and do rate you as a guest as well. So it’s good to be considerate when you stay. Leave it as clean as you possibly can (yes I know you paid the cleaning fee duh!). Communicate clearly with the host in case of any property damage. Clean your dirty dishes and put the rubbish bin out before you leave.


Cleaning up before we leave the apartment. Dubrovnik, Croatia. 

15. In the end, when done with accommodation, leave a detailed honest review for the next guest (within 14 days). Be truthful and respectful. Type it to help other guests. You could comment on facilities, state of accommodation, positives & negatives, distance from nearest transport hub or tourist attraction and any interesting place to check out nearby. Anything that will help other travellers make a decision.


Stayed at the top floor of this gorgeous house in Salzburg (Austria)


220-year-old apartment in Split, Croatia. It's modern from inside. 

To conclude, be adventurous, have fun and do a little gamble. It’s great to live like a local. If you'd like to check out this cool app and book yourself a great accommodation for your next vacation, here's my referral link (Click here). You can get up to $50 off your first booking if you download the app through my link.

Have you tried Airbnb? What's been your best accommodation to date? Share with me in the comments below.

Happy Travelling!

Love
Nishu

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