When traveling internationally, I generally use booking.com for accommodation (with Trip Advisor in the background of course). After our decision to travel to Europe, I went clicking away on Booking.com only to realize how expensive a hotel room per night was. This was primarily attributed to the weak SA/EUR exchange rate. Desperately searching for cheaper options, I finally found my solution… Airbnb! What is Airbnb you ask? Well, it is an amazing website that allows travelers to rent a local’s house, apartment or even a room in the destination you are visiting. Its quick, easy, and affordable and makes you feel like you are living in a home away from home!
After following the really easy registration steps on the airbnb website, I was on my way searching for apartments in Amsterdam and came across loads of them very close to central Amsterdam. We managed to find a one bedroom apartment in Vrolikstraat (aka : Happy Street) in Oorsteparkbuurt in Amsterdam. (2 train stops from central station). The apartment was described by the owner, Klaar, as a bright and spacious apartment in the most cheerful street of Amsterdam. Ten minutes from city centre. Public transport, restaurants and bars are around the corner. It’s a quiet, safe street + 2 free bikes were included for the true Amsterdam experience!. After reading a few reviews by past travelers about staying in Klaars apartment, I felt more at ease booking to stay for a week. I inquired about the availability of the apartment during the dates I wanted and she immediately responded that it was available. I booked through Airnbnb and the money was reserved on my credit card. Quick and easy!
As we were traveling to London after Amsterdam, I decided to book an apartment though Airbnb in London as well. We managed to find a studio apartment very close to Baker Street that was being rented out by fellow South Africans. We decided to book the apartment. In a few easy steps – it was done!
So How does Airbnb actually work?
You need to register an account with Airbnb. This includes providing credit card details. Once your account is registered, you can browse through hundreds of accommodation listings throughout the world. Once you decide on a listing, you can request a reservation through the site. Airbnb creates an easy communication platform between owner and traveler. The only point to note is that upon request to reserve a listing, the payment is reserved against your credit card until the owner approves your booking (provided the listing is available during the period you stipulate). The downside of this process is that you cannot request to reserve a few listings as the payment is immediately reserved by the website. The way around this is to contact the owner through Airnbnb first and enquire about the dates. Once the owner advises that the listing is available during the specified dates, you can send through the reservation request as that guarantees that you will obtain the booking. Just a word of caution, many of the listings charge an additional cleaning fee and a deposit. So look out for this when booking as its an additional cost on top of the rental. The great thing about Airnbnb is that it provides a friendly platform to constantly stay in contact with the owners of the apartments.
About Airnbnb :
Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world, online or from a mobile phone. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190+ countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.
So how was the digs?
Upon arrival at the apartment, we were greeted by the owner, Klaar, who showed us around. The apartment was clean, had a washing machine, towels, clean bedding, crockery, cutlery and everything listed on the website. The apartment looked exactly as was reflected on the website. What a relief! The nice thing about the apartment (and many of the digs listed on the website) is that it is much more spacious than a hotel room and allows travelers to save costs by buying groceries and preparing their own meals In addition, the apartment is equipped with a washing machine which means we had clean clothes prior to departing to our next destination.
We knew that when we arrived at the London apartment that the owner would not be there to greet us as he was on his honeymoon, which he informed us about prior to us booking the apartment. We got the key from the Porter at the apartment complex and when we got inside the apartment it was a relief to see that it was exactly like the photos on the website! The apartment had a dishwasher, fridge, washing machine, towels, etc. It was our little home in London and it was on Baker Street which is very close to the Bakerloo line.
I hope that this post has persuaded you to use Airbnb for your next travel experience. It saved me some cash which I could easily blow on more important things like shoes, bags and clothes. The Airnbnb experience grants you the ownership of a homely living space while cutting yourself loose from old tourist traditions! Happy Booking!
XOXOX – Jee