How to choose the perfect Airbnb

The view from the balcony of my Paris Airbnb

How To Choose The Perfect Airbnb

Full disclosure, I am an active Airbnb host as well as an avid guest. However, I think that makes me uniquely experienced from both sides of the table to know how to choose the perfect Airbnb rental. I’ve also had my fair share of Airbnb stays, ranging from the amazing all the way down to the terrible, so I’ve been around the block, and I know what to look for.

So if you’re still unsure, fear not, I can help. And if you follow these tips, you will ensure yourself a much better experience in the end.

1. Read Reviews Thoroughly

Good reviews are critical for how to choose the perfect Airbnb. Look for places with lots of positive reviews and very few negative ones, preferably none at all. Then read the reviews and feedback from the previous guests. Is the place exactly as described and pictured? Were there any common complaints? If so, how did the host respond – with understanding or were they defensive (which can often reflect a stubborn and hard to deal with host)? If a place has no reviews yet, be wary as you have no references and the place could be nothing like how it’s described.

Reviews - How To Choose The Perfect Airbnb

Unless it’s a mud hut with R2D2 – then who cares about reviews!

2. Choose Real Hosts, Not Agencies

Avoid agencies! Stay only with hosts that are living there and putting their own homes out for rent. Host homes are filled with love, passion, and care. Agencies that manage and rent out units only put the bare minimum of cheap decorations, furniture, and supplies and if anything goes wrong, they aren’t as concerned as it’s just a business rather than their homes that are in disrepair. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether or not it’s an agency renting out the unit, but look at their name (company name vs. a real person), see if the host has multiple listings, and read the reviews. If in doubt, just ask them before you rent.

Paris - How To Choose The Perfect Airbnb

It’s easy to see the love in a cozy flat like this (Photo by Airbnb)

3. Use Contact Host

If you are interested in a place, use the Contact Host option instead of Request Booking first. If you use Request Booking and the host accepts then you are immediately obligated to rent the place. This makes it difficult for you to inquire about any other places while you’re waiting for a response (the host has up to 24 hours to respond). Instead, use Contact Host to ask about availability, questions, and for a Pre-Approval. You can then repeat this for multiple places and when they all get back to you, you are free to choose whichever place suits you best. This will give you the most options and flexibility.

4. Examine The Photos

Look for Airbnb’s with lots of high quality photos. Even better if they have a “Verified by Airbnb” watermark in the corner. Examine all the photos carefully and look for clues as to what the place is really like. How many beds are there? The listing says there is a washing machine but did you see one? If you don’t see something in the photos that was described in the listing, don’t hesitate to Contact The Host and ask them.

Fireplace - How To Choose The Perfect Airbnb

Can you imagine yourself here? Yeah, me too. (Photo by Airbnb)

5. Location, location, location!

This is important no matter where you are staying, but having a good location is critical to a nice trip and choosing the perfect Airbnb. Research the neighbourhood you’re looking at, and find out if it’s close to public transportation and if it’s a good area or not. However, the Airbnb listing doesn’t always give you an exact location, so read the description as sometimes they will list distances to nearby transportation and landmarks. Again, if you’re unsure, ask the host!

Venice - How To Choose The Perfect Airbnb

No such thing as a bad location in Venice

6. Use Filters

If you want complete privacy without sharing the place, then be sure to check off the Entire Place option, as the other two imply that you will share it with the host (which can also be a great experience as well). And use the More Filters option to narrow your search down to your exact requirements, including how many beds, bathrooms, Wi-Fi, or free parking, if you have a car. This will also help when searching with the map as some places don’t show up until you filter out some of them out.

7. Ask About Elevator, If Needed

Not all places, especially older buildings, have elevators. I know this may seem like a small thing, but as an Airbnb host with no elevator and an apartment on the 3rd floor (4th by North American standards), you may be surprised by how many people don’t think to ask and don’t notice that I don’t have the option checked off in the amenities. I should explicitly write it in the description, but I’ve been forgetful. So if you need an elevator, be sure to ask before you book.

Elevator - How To Choose The Perfect Airbnb

Pretty sure there’s no elevator here (Photo by Airbnb)

8. Look For Hidden Charges

Some Airbnb hosts charge a cleaning fee, administration fee, or tourist tax (city mandated) separate from Airbnb. I’ve even seen some hosts charge for late or early checkin, claiming taxi or transportation costs. Either they don’t want to pay the Airbnb service charges on it, or the fees don’t fit within the system, but whatever the case, be sure to read the entire description and House Rules so that you are aware of any hidden costs and not unpleasantly surprised when you arrive.

Ubud - How To Choose The Perfect Airbnb

My house in the rice fields of Ubud

Airbnb is the perfect way to experience life as a local in a new place. Do your research, spend the time and effort, and you should easily be able to choose the perfect Airbnb. Most importantly, be friendly, and maybe the host will even go that extra mile for you. Have fun and enjoy!

Haven’t tried Airbnb yet? Use this link to sign up and we BOTH get a $22 credit when you book your first trip!

What are your key tips on how to choose the perfect Airbnb? Have you ever had a bad experience that you should have noticed from the Airbnb listing?

Written by Garry

Hi. I’m Garry. I’m an independent blogger who left the startup world in search of something more meaningful. What I found was a world full of amazing people, cultures, and experiences. I created this blog to share as much of it as I can and hopefully to inspire others.

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