09 Mar 2015

A question about : Airbnb


We are planning a trip to Germany for 5. Hotels in the area we are visiting are horrendously expensive and as it is not particularly touristy, there are not many apartments on the main booking sites.
I have found what seems to be a ver nice apartment at a good price on Airbnb. I know nothing about this company and was wondering if anyone had any experience of them please?
I notice that the full amount is charged at time of booking and held by Airbnb. In our case this would be approx. Ј900 for 8 months!
If I paid by credit card and either Airbnb or the host screwed us over, would I be covered under section 75?
Thanks for any advice.

Best answers:

  • Airbnb is a leading player in the homestay industry. I doubt they are going away or would "screw" you. Fundamentally your agreement is with the host, Airbnb just facilitates it and charges a fee (it's usually stated separately within the price on their site, roughly 12% of the rental IME).
    Airbnb will not pass the funds to the host until you actually arrive. I've never had to complain in the few times I've used them, but I think they have clear resolution processes. You and the host get to review each other, it's not a one way street.
    I'm not an expert on section 75, but would imagine you might be covered if the service was not delivered at all (ie no apartment), but quality complaints might be another matter.
    I've found Airbnb pretty useful at times. Only caveat is that there are some places where Airbnb type rentals are generally not legal due to local regulations (NYC is the big one), but no idea if this is an issue in Germany.
  • Read their reviews, look out for short notice cancellations, also Google generally for other reviews of specific hosts.
  • I've only used them twice so far but I am about to again at Easter as I've had good experiences. Try to choose places that have lots of reviews if you're worried. I also chose hosts who normally respond to emails within the hour (it has this on their profile).
    Now I've discovered airbnb I don't really want to stay in hotels for city breaks. I did a houseboat in amsterdam which was pretty amazing and then a stunning apartment in an area that had loads of bars and restaurants but not too many tourists.
  • I've just been to London to meet with a girlfriend that was here on business/vacation. She moved into the bedroom on Friday and I met her at the accommodation. She said it cost her Ј50 per night, as opposed to Ј100 per night in a hotel, for a bedroom is some guys flat.
    The flat was in Shoreditch, London. Outside it looked rubbish but inside it was lovely. I will assume he's a single guy, and little things I would make sure were spotless were dirty (glasses), splash back (it wasn't dirty, but had streak marks), he hadn't bothered ironing the clean white bed linen (I must be the only freak that irons her bedlinen!). Generally the flat was clean and tidy-ish. I have a thing about germs, peoples dirt, peoples hygiene etc. but for someone who doesn't really mind i.e. my friend, it was fine, and I actually wouldn't have minded staying there too. She hadn't noticed any of the things I noticed.
    So my point is, she opted to rent a room for a couple of days in a single guys house, she's untidy and lazy so this was a AirBnB match made in affordable heaven and she was happy as it met her needs.
    She also mentioned that in Sardinia last August her and her other girlfriends used the same company and rented an entire flat and it was FAB!
    So based on word of mouth I'd definitely recommend this service.
  • Services like AirBnB suit some people, not others. I like the certainty of a hotel, reception, bit of space, bar, commercial quality en-suite, etc., but you do pay more for that. Other people don't mind domestic/guest-room quality beds, bedding, sharing bathrooms etc and for them there are some great deals.
  • The thing to remember, as others have said, your "contract" is with the host and the website is just a facilitator. If something goes wrong they will attempt to help but its only on a best endeavors basis.
    There was a post on here of someone who booked and when they got to the place late at night (on time) the host was a no show. Had to book into a dive hotel for the night and all the alternatives that the website offered were either in poor (OP said unsafe) areas or were much more expensive.
    That said, did use it once, did what others say here in terms of booking somewhere with lots of reviews and also chatted to the host a fair bit on the messages and he came across really well. We had no problems at all, fantastic little flat in exactly the area of Paris we wanted to be and a little market selling fresh bread, cheeses etc immediately outside the front door each morning.
  • I used it for San Fran and was superb. Saved a fortune and the whole experience was painless.
  • Many thanks for all your replies.
    After much correspondence today with the owner, I have taken the plunge and booked.
    The price is just too good to pass up. We can't afford 5 of us in a hotel and the apartment does look lovely.....a risk I'm willing to take.
  • Twice last year for us. One was excellent, and the other so-so.
    First one was a homestay in Kathmandu in March. Stayed with a wonderful Hindu family for a week. Great vfm, and one of those cultural experiences we'll never forget.
    Second stay was in Sanur (Bali) in September. It was alright, but outside of peak times there's a massive oversupply of mid-range hotels, which offer great value.
    I'd never book anywhere that didn't have good reviews. Although new places appear on airbnb, and have to start somewhere, ie with no reviews.
    Before booking, read all the details carefully. So if you don't like cats make sure the details don't say "cat friendly", or that the apartment is on the 5th floor and there isn't a lift, or it's a bit remote and a car is recommended, or loads of other things.
  • Met up with Australian friends travelling Europe in an apartment in Vienna. The host emailed us loads of tourist information and directions to the apartment prior to our visit and met us on arrival. The apartment was exactly as described on Airbnp and was spotless comfortable and very reasonably priced. My Aussie friends went on to stay in various types of accommodation throughout Europe and was very happy with the whole experience.
  • Yes, it is good to use to find some cheap accommodation
  • I've heard it's good and read some positive reviews online. I also want to use airbnb when I start travelling more abroad, so I would also like to hear people's experiences. OP, another site you cpuld try is "holidayrentals.com. as they seem very similar also. Also they are useful because you can cook your own food and you won't have a set curfew as with hotels, so won't get locked out lol
  • Their customer service department is the absolute worst I have ever encountered. My account got hacked and money stolen and airbnb seriously couldn't have been any worse.
    Yes it is a cool way to find holiday accommodation but as a host, don't be fooled by all their talk of host guarantees. They really don't give a monkeys what happens to you. Plenty of horror stories in the press about people refusing to leave etc.
  • I'm currently in a middle of a bitter negotiation between myself and the owner of the house which I booked and later cancelled.
    Here I underline the importance of reading the Terms and Conditions as I later found out that the owner has a strict cancellation policy so we were at their mercy whether they'll give us the rest of the money or not. But I thought there was no harm done, we've cancelled months in advance (since the owner wouldn't accommodate the additional adult and child) and the owner seemed happy at the beginning to issue the remaining funds.
    But owner had a change of heart later after stringing me along, saying there was an option to find accommodation nearby for the additional people, which clearly owner didn't tell me about! I just felt that if the owner is indeed sincere in accommodating us why not mention the option of the nearby accommodation for the overflow at the beginning, why wait last minute and then decide to brandish the 'well I have a strict cancellation policy so I'm not really obliged to refund you.'
    Included in the contested amount is a cleaning fee which obviously won't be used since we're not going to stay there anymore. So all in all, Airbnb took eighty-five quid for booking fee, plus the three hundred odd quid that the owner felt entitled to.
    I've always used Booking.com before which allows for cancellation (because life happens) without penalties up to a certain time and date, and I'm kicking myself for not researching enough online as there were so many negative feedback concerning Airbnb. No I won't use this again, lesson learned.
  • I'm going to Croatia in May and have booked a whole apartment in Split for 2 nights for Ј100 with free parking. Also looking to book a whole apartment in Zagreb at the start of our trip for 1 night for Ј38. Both owners responded quickly, have many great reviews and have nice looking apartments in great locations. We are using hotels for the other two stops on our journey as they were best value.
    A friend swears by AirBnb having used it in New York and Toronto and is already looking to use it for Japan later this year.
  • We used Airbnb for a booking last year in India and were very satisfied. It was more a small hotel than a homestay but they were very obliging, meals were good and we had the use of a car.
    Next week we're off to Sri Lanka and have booked several Airbnb homestays. The one with the longest cancellation for refunds asks for 7 days. Most are 24 hours.
    We have a friend who hosts through the company and is very satisfied with how they deal with her. So I suppose, as usual, it all depends on individual experiences.
    If this thread is still around I'll post when we get back!
  • Given that AirBnB's seems to have discovered the key to time travel, it seems puzzling why they would want to bother with something as mundane as arranging accommodation?
    Or maybe its just a sign that they are quite dishonest?
    Yes, their stooging can be found on this very board - claiming to be able to book you rooms in the past.
  • Some reviews I came across as I was thinking of booking.
  • I have just booked a small flat for a week in the UK in an area where I could find no other self-catering accommodation. The process demands id verification which can be tricky. They want you to upload a photo of your passport or driving licence (mine does not have a photo so I assumed it would be unacceptable); give them a mobile phone number and get a verification code; and then give them your Facebook, Gmail or Linked In id and log in. I reluctantly gave them my main Gmail details but these did not suffice (probably because I do not use Google Plus). I eventually manged to get the property booked through my husband who has a Linked In account. If you are not an active Facebook or Linked In user with lots of friends, you may have problems.