Have you considered using Airbnb to find your dream holiday home this summer? Miranda has some tips that may help you to find the right rental for you and your family.
Back in the Easter holidays, I met up with my friend, Anna, and her children. Of course, being the school holidays, there was lots of rain and the kids were togged up in so many layers that they looked like mini Michelin men. As we dodged the puddles, talk turned to the May half term when surely, suuurely the weather would be balmy. Anna told me that she’d booked a cottage in Cornwall through Airbnb, “You should have a look at the Airbnb site, there are some great deals to be had!” she encouraged. Well, suffice to say, a seed was sown and, on my return, I opened up my laptop and started the hunt for a holiday cottage on Airbnb. Whilst I’ve booked through Airbnb in the past, it’s never been for a family break, and I was intrigued to see what was on offer.
For those unfamiliar with Airbnb, it’s basically an online hospitality service whereby people can rent short-term lodgings. Holiday cottages, flats, rooms in a family home, bed and breakfast – anything goes really. Like most online services, you need to register. Additionally, you must write a short bio and upload a photo. That’s it. No fees, no nasties, and it literally takes a matter of minutes.
Once the formalities have been ticked off, the fun starts and you can start thinking about where you’d like to stay; be it in the UK or further afield. You can then be specific about the sort of property you’re looking for; whether you’d like an entire property to yourself, whether pets are welcome, you can request that a property has parking, an indoor fireplace if you so desire, outside space etc etc – the list goes on. Equally useful is the budget filter; you can specify how much you are willing to pay for the property, immediately filtering out anything out of your price range, and therefore keeping disappointment levels to a minimum!
Choosing a holiday home has the potential to be a pretty stressful experience, largely because you want it to be ‘just right’ - after all, this is a precious week (or two) away from the humdrum of normal life and the whole idea is that we unwind, relax and ‘forget it all’ – not easy if the accommodation you’ve chosen is more Faulty Towers than fabulous. The good thing about Airbnb is that you can read reviews from guests who have previously stayed in the abode you’re considering renting. Taking the time to look through these write-ups is, in my opinion, the best marker of deciding if the property is right for you. It’s amazing how detailed some reviewers can be, and often you’ll find out lots about the surrounding area, places to eat and things to do at the same time. Trawling through reviews is a time-consuming business, so set aside a few hours to do just this, a glass of wine in hand may make the experience a little less laborious!
Before confirming a booking through Airbnb, I’d also recommend touching base with the proprietors. Just asking a couple of simple questions gives you the opportunity to have dialogue with the property’s owners before hitting the ‘rent’ button. There has been a fair amount of press in recent years questioning the safety and reliability of Airbnb, therefore speaking with the owners and ensuring you only stay somewhere that has a number of excellent reviews will go a long way to alleviating any fears you may have. Many holiday rental properties on Airbnb also have their own websites, which is further reassurance when booking precious time away.
And finally, Airbnb allow you to spread the rental costs – paying 50% up front and the remaining balance a couple of weeks before your holiday begins, something really worth considering at the time of booking.
Here’s to a summer of fun in the sun! x