By now everybody (or almost everybody) knows Airbnb. It keeps coming up in discussions about holidays and I keep reading about it in the news. But let’s start from the beginning
Airbnb is an american internet based company, which provides people the possibility to rent for short term lodging. It started in 2008 but became more known in the current decade.
Usually, my husband and I were either booking a hotel or travelling with our VW van, so going to campings. But last year we decided to visit Tokyo and we found the prices of hotels far too high, so we decided to check Airbnb. We were amazed!
For a much lower price, we found a really cute apartment only for us, in a really nice area of Tokyo. The girl that offered it was so helpful, to explain to us all the facilities in the house (of course the writing was in japanese, so we needed a bit of a guide) and she was fast to answer our questions, such as if tap water is drinkable, or about the metro tickets and even suggestions. Five stars in hospitality, for an affordable price and a more personal communication than in hotels!
A few months ago my husband got a new job, so we had to find a new house and the one we liked was being renovated, so it would be available a month after his starting day in the new job. Under normal circumstances, paying a hotel for a month would have been far too expensive and we couldn’t have taken that house in the first place. But Airbnb gave us enough flexibility to make the choice we really wanted!
In the four weeks of June, we stayed in four different houses in the wider area of Reinach and Dornach, at the outskirts of Basel in Switzerland. In this case we did not have a whole house for ourselves, but in most cases the offer was for a room with a separate bathroom and the rest of the house shared with the family living in it. Breakfast was included as well. It was an amazing experience!
All four families were friendly! I was staying home most of the day while my husband was going to work and I had the chance to get into talks with the people hosting us! I got to practice my german, met a nice Chinese girl working as an au pair and rocked a small baby to sleep while his mom had to run to get his sister from the nursery! We had a normal kitchen to cook dinner, equipped with everything from plates and cuttlery to oil and spices. We were offered homemade jams for breakfast, tried homemade pizza cooked in a wood oven and I even got a small basil plant as a present from one of them! Even Lukas found a nice rocking chair to spend his week in Dornach!
Usually hotel rooms are too depressing to stay for long. But a normal house, where people are living in, feels much more homely! Of course we didn’t miss the normal touristic help either. The weather was nice most weeks (as you can see from my photos) and I had the chance to explore the towns, visit The Goetheanum and had help from the hosts about the sites and the restaurants around or the closest supermarket. Especially the first week, the owners had a registered free ticket for both of us to use the public means of transportation in the wider Baselstadt and Baselland area!
Concerning the costs, we paid in total for the month of June less than what would be the monthly cost of our own apartment for the same month! If we would have to stay in a hotel, except from the problems of having just a room, the cost would have been enormous. The only alternative would have been a cheap and low quality hostel or something…
Airbnb is quite often mentioned in the news I read. In my homeland Greece they are trying to get the people that are not declaring their income from such rentals. And I have read of issues where people try to rent on a long term some lodging in areas that receive tourists and cannot find anything available anymore.
The European Commission issued a press release about a week ago, calling Airbnb to align their terms with the European Union consumer rules. Airbnb is expected to improve their price transparency and state clearly if the lodging is offered by a professional or a private host, since it makes a difference in the consumer protection rules covering the booking. They are also asked to clarify some terms and remove some other that do not comply with the general EU rules.
Two days ago I read that they activated its Open Homes project, so as to provide free accommodation to the victims of the big fires in the outskirts of Athens of last Monday. They are contacting the owners and if the latter agree they offer the accommodation to the victims for free and without service costs.
If I had a property available I would also register it with Airbnb. And I am happy to have this alternative to a hotel or some professional lodging to choose when it comes to accommodation, as it keeps the prices within the budget of a wide range of people and I prefer the personal communication that the individual hosts offer. But as anything else, it also creates some problems. I really hope they are resolved and Airbnb continues to offer its service!
Have you used Airbnb yourself? Did you have a good or a bad experience? What is your opinion?