Since its founding in 2008, Airbnb has become a very successful business which allows people to make a bit of extra cash by renting out their whole house (or even just their spare room), to travellers looking for an authentic and cheap place to stay.
Airbnb gives tourists the opportunity to rent a decent room for a fraction of the price of most hotels. And <bonus> staying with a live in host means you'll have your own personal tour guide on hand for recommendations. Who knows, you might even make a new friend. So, what's the catch and how does Airbnb work? Read on...
Very few places have the option of booking instantly. After you've decided on a place to stay and filled out your desired dates you've then got to communicate with your host and ultimately, get your booking accepted. Therefore, you'll save time in the long run by making yourself look like a sane, competent guest. So, be sure to complete your profile and add a photo. Then drop them a message, tell them a bit about who you are and what you have in mind for your trip, and with all that completed, they've got no reason to turn you down.
This is the most straightforward way of finding out what the room will really be like and if it's worth booking. FYI, renters can apply to have their home professionally photographed and Airbnb will then send a free profressional photographer to their home. Just be aware that your room may not be quite as dazzling in real life, and ALWAYS check the cleanliness rating. Leaving a review after you've stayed somewhere is common courtesy in the world of Airbnb - so make sure you do that as well. Bear in mind, the host also gets to review the guest - so be nice.
It seems obvious, but check that the place you want to stay has everything you need such as wi-fi and kitchen essentials. As you aren't in a hotel you need to remember to bring all your own shampoo etc as well (unless your host provides it).
You will most likely have to pay a security deposit, as well as cleaning fees plus a bit of extra cash per person (if you aren't travelling solo). Also be aware that hosts have their own individual cancellation policies, so be sure to check what that is.
Airbnb has a 24 hour customer support team, so in the unlikely event that you run into trouble with your host, you can always give them a call. Guests and hosts verify their identification by scanning their ID and confirming personal details, so yes you are defintely dealing with real people. Payment is also made through Airbnb, so no dodgy outside dealings.