Our Family Used Airbnb in Europe – A Review
Toe in the Airbnb Water
This is the travel year the Jacobsen Family would jump into the modern travel world via Airbnb. One would think that with my own travel site, bargain shopping habits, and burgeoning family, I would have been an early adopter.
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Not so! I like my comfy hotel stays, with amenities at your fingertips and front desk rescue available at all hours.
But this year as we planned an overseas trip with our adult-sized children, we decided to take a step into the unknown world of Airbnb.
After all, the young millennials we have produced regularly book these accommodations with confidence, while hailing magical Uber rides on their phone and sidling by a Starbucks to pick up their prepaid and pre-ordered Clover Press coffee. . . . . . Their ease with new technology can take your breath away.
So, yes it was time for us parents to stick the proverbial toe in the water.
The Basics of Using Airbnb
First, if you haven’t stayed in an Airbnb, here’s how it works. It is an online booking site for people who wish to rent out everything from a private room to an entire house. As such, the rentals are usually very reasonably priced compared to a more traditional hotel.
Renters create an account, and can upload a photo and create a profile viewable by the potential host. Some hosts require additional identity proof from renters prior to accepting the booking. Airbnb receives a cut for the booking and listing on their site.
We booked Airbnbs in London, Cornwall, Dublin, and Galway — each one to accommodate a family of five and to park our rental car.
First, the Pluses
- The Price: Airbnbs are generally less expensive, even a lot less expensive, than a comparable hotel and sleeps 5 or more in one space. Yay!
- Authenticity: Due to the residential nature of an Airbnb, guests can momentarily imagine what it is like to live in the given location.
- Kitchens: This is very helpful for families in particular, as it lowers the food budget and allows for healthier eating in many cases.
- Laundry: We found that 3 out of 4 locations had access to a laundry machine–another great perk for families.
- Less Hustle/ No Bustle: All of our stays were in quieter residential areas, although this is what I specifically chose! This was a welcome feature after a hectic day of sightseeing. Of course, Airbnbs are available in big city areas, too.
- Local Contact: When needed, we had contact and friendly advice from the proprietors, which was very welcome.
And the Minuses
- Where is it?: Sometimes entrances were a challenge, because the signage isn’t as obvious as in the case of a hotel.
- I’m Hungry: A market was sometimes easy to get to and sometimes not. All of the Airbnbs provided the basics, like coffee and tea. And 3 out of the 4 Airbnb locations we used also provided a little food, something to see you through to the morning.
- Front Desk?: The proprietor or caretaker is usually reachable through text or the phone, but help is not always instantaneous regardless of the the best intentions of your host. Like when the bathroom shower leaked into the kitchen ceiling. And when the hot water had not been turned on yet for the season! Brrr.
- Taxi!: Since it is not a hotel, there is seldom a taxi lingering about. So if travelers do not have a rental car, you need to plan ahead with transportation and of course, there is that Uber/Lyft thing.
- Legal?: We did not experience this ourselves, but others have related stories where their Airbnb host was renting the unit against the rules of the apartment building. This caused some awkwardness between the Airbnb renters and the building’s regular tenants. Read the descriptions carefully before booking.
- HairBnB: This did not happen to us but has happened to others, where the space was not up to the cleanliness standards of a basic hotel. Remember there is no front desk and you cannot switch rooms–This Is The Only Room At The Inn! The Airbnb organization is working at providing certain standards. When a visit is finished, the host and visitor evaluate each other, which puts some social pressure on both to do their best.
Airbnb – Overall Positive
All in all, we had a positive experience with our Airbnbs and would do it again.
The best thing to do is read the descriptions carefully and check those reviews for helpful insights. After that, it is naturally up to each family to determine their comfort level with less formal trappings. Nonetheless, the travel budget boost is undeniable!
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