Travelling is amazing. Breathtakingly rewarding and achingly exciting, wherever you go. Whether you’re lounging by the pool in a steaming tropical climate, hiking through the hills up to some lost ancient tomb, or strutting down a European high street in your tallest shoes and smartest peacoat. You can learn so much from travel, and from the experience of indepent adventure. The world is a big place, with a million and one things to go and visit. There is so much to be said for exploring it piece by piece.But, when travelling away from home, whether you go alone or in a group, there are so many factors you need to consider. Cultral changes, climate differences, the financial support throughout your trip…Everything will be new, and scary. And whilst that fear is great for adrenaline, it’s perhaps not so great for your own personal safety.
Different countries, different lifestyles and different experiences can be overwhelming, and disorientating. You could touch down in what feels like a completely different planet, and have no idea of what to do once you get there. Which is where your accomodation should come in. Your hotel, your travel lodge, your hostel, or, as a more popular travelling trend unveils itself, your Airbnb.
Airbnb is an online site where travellers, foreign workers, tourists and sight seers can book to stay in someone’s home, in the right destination, and essentially live there unaided for the entirety of their trip. Unlike a hotel, you have the option of requesting the entire home, villa or apartment to yourself for complete and utter privacy. This means no 6am housekeeping calls, no noisy hotel room neighbours, and no confining or unfurnished single rooms for one. You will be living in their home, or bedroom, for every step of your journey. With your own kitchen, your own bathroom, living room, front door…you can truly live the lifestyle of a native in your chosen destination.Some people, like myself, find this homely familiarity incredibly comforting when spending time in a new city or country. Hotel rooms, whilst perhaps slighly more affordable, lack a certain standard of comfort, and of ownership. Your hotel room is usually just that…a room. A room in a large, unassuming building that is designed for sleep and showering alone. But your Airbnb is designed, more than anything, to be your temporary home. Your escape after a long day of exploration, your sofa to curl up on and remind yourself of everything you witnessed that day, your kitchen – perfectly accommodating for that first cup of morning coffee.But, unfortunately, like hotel rooms, not all Airbnb experiences will be the same. Whilst the standards can be high, the prices can also be a little steep at times, so it’s importat to get what you want. And you want it to be perfect. Yet, not everyone will understand quite what that perfect standard of Airbnb is – how to tell when you’ve found a great place, that’s worth recommending to your friends, and a flat to write home about. So, having recently dropped in from an Edinburgh city break in possibly the most beautiful Airbnb home I’ve ever stumbled into, I thought I would share my top 5 expectations for the best possible holiday accommodation, and help my fellow travellers to understand just what to expect from the perfect Airbnb.
- Clean. This may sound like a basic function, but as a host, if you’re awaiting a guest, no matter how they plan to stay for, everything should be spotless. Clean toiletries, clean ammenities, clean bedding, clean utensils…The perfect Airbnb will be idyllic and almost frighteningly clean. Our Edinburgh flat was decorated in the most sparkling of fresh white nauticals, to the point where we almost didn’t want to sit down for fear of making a mess. But it felt healthy, and hygenic and well-loved, and for us, that made it a perfect holiday accomodation.
- Beautiful. (If that is what you are looking for!) I understand for some people, their travel accommodation is simply there to be a bed and bags drop off point, with their new exciting country being the true host of their visit. But for others, myself included, the place where you sleep should be just as beautiful as the landscape you explore. This can mean a unique decor style, a warming senerity, a photographable quality that most hotel rooms lack. As a horrifically materialistic person, I find I am comforted by beautiful things – whether it be a rustic cushion, an elegant lampshade or a dove soft throw. So when I’m facing the culture shock of an entirely new way of living, these are the small touches that can really help to make my trip amazing.
- Convenient. If your Airbnb advertises itself as a ‘city centre apartment’, it should be just that. Central. You should be able to hit all of your city style sight seeing spots, or conference centres in a short, straightforward walk. No complex trains, or trams, or buses. No taxis dropping you off at the back end of suburban housing estates, as you frantically try to explain that your booking was in the city centre, that this can’t be right! Everything you need to reach on your trip should be right there in front of you, unless advertised otherwise. So make sure you do your homework, and check in with your host frequently to confirm just how close your favourite monument will be to your brand new home.
- Balanced. This standard typically refers to the host, rather than the apartment itself. Although you can never be sure of what kind of host you will recieve, there are a few signs to look out for when chatting them with on-site for the first time. Firstly, always check the reviews of previous guests, and analyse their experiences with the host, and the room itself. If buzzwords and phrases such as ‘slow to reply’ ‘too busy’ ‘unattentive’ ‘uncooporative’ and ‘pushy’ tend to pop up throughout your investigation, it’s perhaps wise to start looking for somewhere else. Though you might not think it now, when staying the night in someone elses home, in an unfamiliar city, it’s more important than ever to have a host who is reachable and contactable. They need to be able to reply to all of your questions and queries, even the silly ones. But, they also need to know when to take a step back, and let you enjoy the time you have there alone. No early morning calls, ‘just checking in’, no constant monitoring you on how you slept, how hot the shower was, how noisy the neighbours were. The perfect balance is a host who will answer your questions, and then, in all honestly, leave you be to discover everything else on your own.
- Safe. This one, for me, is always going to be my number one priority – when I’m travelling alone or with a group. Do the windows all lock? Does the gas turn off? Does anyone else have a key to the apartment? How many people know we’re here? There’s a lot to consider when evaluating the safety of your new accommodation, but luckily this is where the reviews can help you again. In the reviews for an Airbnb studio flat I recently considered booking, whilst most were positive, a few jumped out at me, citing that the cleaners would walk in unannounced at 6am, the host had popped by and moved things around without consulting his guests, and there was no one there to greet them in this strange apartment buidling – leaving, as they described themselves ‘two young foreign girls’ alone, to ask complete strangers for help. So no matter how beautiful or luxurious or sophisticated the place, if the privacy levels and safety etiquette doesn’t feel right, do not book it.
I hope these tips have helped out some of the more wary Airbnb users out there, and encouraged them to start raising their own standards when it comes to self catered holiday accommodation. I love booking my trips through Airbnb, and I can’t recommend the site enough for those wanting a true home from home when exploring abroad.
For those wondering about the photographs in this blog post, they have all come from my wonderful stay in Edinburgh, with our fantastic host Claire, and her Airbnb profile is linked here, if anyone would like to go and check out her flat.
Thank you so much for reading, and you can click here to read my last post reviewing my first ever Birchbox!
*this post has not been sponsored by Airbnb or any of its affiliates.