|Squirrel Hill Court, Bradford Airbnb, where we stayed May 2019|
Christmas is over and I hope you had a marvellous time. If you're anything like me, your mind will now have moved onto the need to travel and get some holidays/ short breaks booked for 2020, so you can have something to look forward to.
In recent years we've booked a few stays in the UK in Airbnb properties and we've really enjoyed them. With a family of five, it is so good to have the right amount of bedrooms, some outside space and a lounge/ kitchen, rather than all being cooped up in a couple of hotel rooms.
We've been very lucky with the four properties we've booked and they've all turned into truly wonderful holidays with loads of memories made. Our breaks have been in the UK, but I know many friends who have booked abroad and been very happy. In fact I don't personally know anyone who has had an awful experience with Airbnb, but I know they are out there, you only have to google and you'll come across a load on the Internet (but my advise, don't bother!).
I think with some good research before booking, and trusting your gut when you interact with the property owner you can be as sure as possible of a good stay. Here are my top tips for booking your Airbnb property right now -
Searching for an Airbnb Property -
1. Book as early as you can to allow the widest choice of properties
Yes, you can sometimes get a last minute bargain if you book late, but my experience with Airbnb has been that booking early is the far better choice. I'd much rather have 15 or 20 properties in the specific location that I'd like to be able to sift through.
2. Make your search specific to your requirements
The whole point of booking something like an Airbnb property rather than a hotel, is to make sure you have everything you need, so make sure you use the 'more filters' option and choose the things that are important to you - for us, we like car parking on site, Wi-fi, 3 bedrooms and outside space
3. Book with a Superhost
Under the 'more filters' you can choose if you only want to see properties managed by Superhosts. These are owners who have been with Airbnb for a while and are meeting a number of quality standards, such as number of stays, less than 1% cancellations, responding to 90% of customer emails with 24 hours and maintaining a 4.8+ rating ongoing
4. Check out the reviews of the property/ hosts
Do your research, don't just accept that what you see is OK. Make sure you check out the reviews and the ratings that both the property and the owner/ host have got. I also google the property out of the Airbnb site too, as many owners list in various places and this often means you can find reviews on places like Trip Advisor too.
5. Read the house rules and check-in/out times carefully
Every host will have their own set of house rules, so make sure you read them carefully and find out what you can and can't do at the property. These will be often be simple things like no smoking, no pets and no parties. Some properties prefer not to take children though, so do check.
6. Check the cancellation policy meets your needs
Also have a look at the cancellation policy and see when you can cancel and what implications it will have to your payment.
7. Look at the full cost of the stay
On the search results page, you'll see a cost per night that the property asks, but once you go into the full details for that property, you'll get the full cost for your stay as this will include the cleaning fee charged by your host and the service fee charged by Airbnb.
Booking your Airbnb Property -
You want to make sure you have seen what the rooms in the property look like. If there are only close ups of ornaments, arty corners or pillows on beds, then I'd be weary, that they aren't showing you the full picture and I'd probably choose elsewhere.
9. You can opt to pay some now and the rest nearer the time
I really like the 'pay less upfront' scheme from Airbnb as it means the money can stay in my bank account as long and possible, and they also make it easy for me, as when the payment becomes due they just take it from the original payment method, so I don't have to remember to log on and do it manually.
10. Ask for a discount
Some hosts will offer a discount for stays of more than 7 nights, whilst others will offer a discount if you book with a short lead-time. If the host of the property that you wish to stay at isn't offering any discount, there is nothing to stop you asking. Send them a private message via Airbnb and be polite and unassuming. You never know!
11. Book with a Responsive Host
As you scroll down the property listing, you'll get to details about the host of the property, and it is worth looking their response % and time to see how good they are at answering your questions and keeping in touch. You want to make sure you have someone who will come back to you quickly if you have any questions or issues.
Staying at your Airbnb Property -
12. Adhere to the house rules and check in/out times
You want your host to play fair with you and it is only right that you do the same, so make sure that you arrive in the time frame that you have indicated you will, and be ready to leave before or at the check-out time, not half hour later!
13. Be respectful of the property you are staying in
If people were coming to stay in your house, you'd want them to treat your house well and thus you must do the same. We've had a gate lock break when we were at a house before and I text the host to let them know and all was well, as they knew it was a bit tricky when we arrived. If you have children with you, ensure that they understand the things they can and can't do in the property and garden.
14. Leave the house in a good condition
Some people fully clean their property before they leave and others leave it like a pit. My personal viewpoint is that I'll leave the house in good condition. I'd expect to wash up and put it all away, tidy things, put rubbish in then bins, clear up any spills etc, but I don't clean, as most host will charge you a cleaning fee and that is what that is for.
|Our girls with some of the animals at The White House, Fakenham, where we stayed in August 2017 & 2018|
After your Stay
Help others to know if the property you stayed in is a good one, and if the host was responsive and conducted themselves well. Remember, that you'll also have a profile on Airbnb in the same way that your host does and they can leave a review for you as a guest, so potential future hosts will see how you conducted yourself during your stay.
I hope you find my tips useful and you manage to book somewhere really great for your break away and in the future you should have even more assurance that the place where you will stay will be just as described, as Airbnb announced in November this year that by December 2020 they will have physically visited every property and verified them all. They are also pledging to refund all customers whose property fails to meet the Airbnb "accuracy standards" and they can not find another suitable property that "is just as nice".
These are very welcome improvements, along with the introduction of a 24 hour telephone help line to ensure all customers, anywhere in the world can always reach a real person to talk to. Things are getting better and better.
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