Airbnb is an online marketplace for short-term lodging in cities around the world. Founded in 2008 by roommates, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, Airbnb has grown from an air mattress on their living room floor in San Francisco to a worldwide collection of short-term rentals. The company currently offers 3 million listings in 65,000 cities in 191 countries.
How It Works
First, sign up for a free account. Users can list a property by becoming a Host. The host creates a listing by adding amenities included, neighborhood information, house and cancelation rules, photos and contact information. A host has 24 hours after a booking is requested to accept or deny the reservation.
Users searching for a property simply plug in the location and dates they are looking for. There are filters to refine the search by number of guests and accommodation type. To request or confirm a booking, users enter their personal information, email address and payment info. You must agree to the house rules and cancelation policy. If confirmed, you will receive an email message and welcome from the host. All communication with the host is via the Airbnb site.
Not all properties are created equal and photos don’t always tell the whole story. Our advice is to search out a few different options and read the reviews. These are written by past guests and can clue you in to what they liked and didn’t like about a listing. We’ve stayed at an Airbnb on three separate occasions. The properties in Nova Scotia and Reykjavik are most noteworthy.
In July, 2017, we spent a relaxed week at a lovely Airbnb in Portuguese Cove, Nova Scotia. We were met by Ryan, the owner’s son and property manager, who lives on the first floor. The space was spotless with plenty of charm. Big picture windows along the entire back half of the house afford views of the ocean along the shipping lane into Halifax harbor. The house is located in a quiet, residential area, only a 20 minute drive from downtown Halifax. Portuguese Cove is situated at the eastern end of Nova Scotia’s picturesque South Shore. We took day trips to Peggy’s Cove, Mahone Bay and the town of Lunenburg (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). We soaked up the summer sun on gorgeous Crystal Crescent Beach.
In December, 2017, we visited Reykjavik, Iceland. Our Airbnb was located in a quiet, residential neighborhood in the Old City. We had a separate, private cottage in the back yard of an apartment building. This property was perfect for the two of us with a kitchenette, separate bedroom and plenty of hot, geothermal water in the shower. It was deliciously warm inside after a day of sightseeing in the cold, winter air. The location couldn’t be better as it’s only a two-minute walk from the famous Hallgrimskirkja. The main shopping street, Laugavegur, with it’s myriad of shops, eateries and grocery stores is about a ten-minute walk. We bathed at the thermal pool right around the corner, popular with the locals.
Why We Love Airbnb
There are several reasons why we we love booking through Airbnb.
We are vegan and depending on the location there may not be a lot of options for us at local restaurants. Having a kitchen means we can bring or purchase ingredients and make our own meals.
Reading the reviews on a listing often gives you a good sense of how convenient it is to restaurants, transportation and sights. We prefer a quiet neighborhood within walking distance or a short drive from all the major activity.
One thing to remember is that these are not hotel rooms. Often they are a room in someone’s house where you share common areas and a bathroom. If you want an entire apartment, loft, cottage, etc. like we do, you will pay more for it.
Always compare the cost of hotels, motels, hostels, etc. with what you find on Airbnb. If hotels are pricing high or mostly sold out, as was the case for us in Iceland, an Airbnb can make the difference between going on your trip or staying home.
Needless to say we are huge fans of Airbnb. As vegans, having an accommodation with a kitchen is a necessity in many locations and it saves us money on restaurant meals. We encourage you to try it on your next trip!
Portuguese Cove, Nova Scotia “Million Dollar Views and Serenity” https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/16944853
Reykjavik, Iceland “Cozy 40m2 studio apartment, city center” https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3322238
* Recommendations are my own based on experience with the company and hosts. I received no compensation for this post.