4 Voted

In the last decade, Airbnb has changed the game drastically when it comes to finding amazing accommodation for your next vacation. It’s hard to imagine that not so long ago we had to book hotels solely through their website or the phone; then services like Booking.com came along to consolidate all of the information and give users the ability to compare amenities and prices of hotel rooms in one place. Airbnb took it one step further by creating a platform for properties like entire houses, B&Bs, bungalows, hostels, lofts, apartments, villas, and even single rooms in homes. There is no limit to what they can offer and you can check out some of their most unique rentals here.

As of 2020 Airbnb claims to have over seven million listings on their website, spanning 220 countries and with 150 million users. The property ratings are also very positive; over 90% of the properties listed have a star rating of either 4.5 or 5 stars. The platform has added some great features along the way and I personally use the service multiple times a year. Let’s delve into some of their best and worst features.

Awesome Range of Properties

As I mentioned earlier, Airbnb allows hosts to list a wide array of properties though they do go through somewhat of a screening process before they’re included. These comprise, but are not limited to, apartments, entire houses, private single rooms, hostels, hotel rooms and suites, villas, B&Bs, cabins, campsites, and even houseboats.

Cost-Effective Choices

The wide range of choices offered also means that you’ll have cheaper room alternatives as well; instead of paying hundreds for a hotel room, you could probably pay a quarter of that for a private room in someone’s home all while being in the same location and nearby the same attractions. And the best part is there aren’t any hidden resort fees or hotel fees that establishments usually charge once you check-in; any and all costs whether it be a reservation fee or a cleaning fee are listed prior to confirming your booking. You’ll definitely get more bang for your buck with Airbnb.

Private & Family-Friendly

One of the reasons why I often opt for Airbnb over other platforms is because I usually travel in large groups, sometimes with family and other times with friends. Instead of each of us being in different hotel rooms, sometimes on different floors, I’d rather we get one large home, villa, or bungalow with multiple bedrooms so that we’d have the entire place to ourselves and still have some privacy. It makes for a much better experience and is super helpful if you’re traveling with kids and teenagers and don’t want them in a hotel room far from yours.

Full Range of Features

One of the other awesome features of staying at an Airbnb is that many of them have certain facilities you won’t usually get in a hotel room, like a full kitchen, in-house laundry facilities, or even a private jacuzzi or swimming pool. The full kitchen is especially helpful if you have dietary restrictions, prefer a home-cooked meal, are traveling with younger children, or just want to save some money on food during your travels.

On the other hand, if you’re traveling completely alone and want to save some money, you can opt for a private room in someone’s home. These rooms give you the privacy and comforts you need and often have shared washroom/ kitchen facilities, all while keeping costs low.

Unique Places to Stay

Airbnb’s awesome range of properties extends way beyond homes with kitchens and bungalows with pools. You can find boats, farms, campsites, glampsites, outdoor bubble tents, luxury tents, penthouses, cabins, RVs, tiny houses, and even igloos. These accommodations are so unique and Airbnb lets you experience them in destinations all over the world.

Flexible Filters

There are a lot of little features on Airbnb’s search engine that stand out to me. The first one is the fact that you can pick “I’m flexible” as your dates so that you can get the best pricing and availability. My off days are not so structured so if I can save a bit of money checking in on a Thursday rather than a Friday, I’d opt for it. You can pick whether you want to go on weekends, during the week, or at any time during a particular month, and your results will reflect that.

Instant Booking/ Cancellation

Once you get to the list of accommodations, or ‘stays’ as they call it, you’ll find that there could be hundreds if not thousands of options for you to choose from. To make it easier for you to find one that will suit you the most, use their filters. Since we’re now in the middle of a pandemic, one of their most-used filters is ‘Cancellation flexibility’ which will only list properties that allow cancellations (within a time frame) for little to no cost. ‘Instant book’ is another filter I use a lot when I do last-minute traveling; this allows me to confirm my accommodation without waiting for the host’s approval.

Many Types of Accommodation & Property Types

Then you can pick the type of place you’re looking for; options include a hotel room, an entire place, a private room, or a shared room. You can also filter by property type or unique stays (book that castle!). To understand the difference between ‘type of place’ and ‘property type’ look at it this way: you can book a private room (type of place) in a cabin (property type) or a shared room (type of place) in an apartment (property type), etc.

Extensive Search Filters

You can sort through accommodation based on how many bedrooms, bathrooms, or beds you need. There are over 20 amenities you can use, such as places with a kitchen, wifi, indoor fireplace, or waterfront, to filter your results. They even have a filter to find accommodations with pianos because if that’s what you need while on vacation, then that’s what you need. Facility filters include whether or not the stay has a swimming pool/ hot tub, EV charger, a gym or fitness center, and free parking on the premises – that last one is super handy if you have a car and are visiting a busy location where hotels often charge an exorbitant nightly parking fee (I’m looking at you NYC!).

Additional ways to filter your search results are by whether pets are allowed, whether smoking is allowed, and also by what language the host can speak if that makes your experience better. In fact, the only thing they don’t have is the option to list your results by price (low to high, etc.) though you can put a minimum/ maximum price to narrow it down a bit.

Can Pick Stay Based on Reviews

An aspect that I love is that the stays listed on the website are given a rating out of five stars. This is completely compiled by the reviews left from previous guests who had to have stayed at the accommodation to leave the feedback. It’s often accurate and reliable and is one of the main things I look at when picking where I want to stay – especially if I don’t trust the pictures or there aren’t that many uploaded. Remember, some of these pictures could be old and taken when the property was first listed years prior.

The only downfall is that new hosts may have a great place but not have enough reviews, making it difficult for users to understand what the accommodation will be like.

Experiences/ Online Experiences

Over the years, Airbnb has expanded to include features other than just booking a place to stay. While booking an experience is not as expansive as their main feature, it’s still proven to be very useful. The experiences are not only tickets and tours of the usual popular attractions in the area, though those are also available, but tend to include more interactive experiences such as a cooking class at a famous restaurant or with an experienced local, walking tours filled with trivia or scavenger hunts, and even photography sessions to capture your memories. It’s a great addition to the site and you end up using Airbnb Experiences a lot more than you think you would.

User-Friendly App And Website

Even if you’re not tech-savvy and rarely use your smartphone for anything other than making/ receiving calls, you’ll find the Airbnb website and app very easy to use. You can easily navigate through the Airbnb database, filtering your results with the click of a button. The reviews and ratings for each property are prominently listed so you don’t have to go digging to get an honest opinion of the place from past guests. You can even message the host safely through the app/ website if you have any specific questions or clarifications.

My overall feedback is that Airbnb is a great platform to use when looking for a place to stay for your next personal or business getaway (they even have a filter to list five-star places which were rated solely by other business travelers). The only negatives I’ve ever had is when I had a fixed check out from a property but my flight was not till much later, leaving me to drag my luggage around the city for the day. Other than that, Airbnb has always given me extensive choices, great costs, and a memorable experience so I will continue to use them.

Pros
  • Great layout that is easy to navigate
  • Unique offers of accommodation not available on other booking sites
  • Option of ‘Private room’ or ‘Entire place’ to keep prices down if needed
  • Airbnb offers a 24/7 customer service line for customers who have any problems
  • Customers can pick accommodation based on reviews and ratings of past guests
  • Airbnb has protections in place for renters; e.g., reimbursement if a listed amenity isn’t available, etc.
Cons
  • Accommodation not available in all towns and cities
  • Every once in a while, you don’t get the features/ amenities described
  • Can’t filter results by price (low to high, etc.) so you have to scroll
  • Hosts can cancel at any time, even last minute, though the occurrence is very rare
  • No option to ‘sort by’ a filter, meaning scrolling to find the best deal can take a while
  • New hosts may not be 100% trustworthy