7 Tips and Tricks to Find the Perfect Airbnb

7 tips and tricks to find the perfect airbnb

Now I love a hotel as much as the next person, but in recent years, we’ve taken to staying in self catering accommodation and our go to place to find it is Airbnb.

We’ve stayed in accommodation both large and small, both home and away and both on our lonesomes and with friends, and wherever the place, whatever the size and whoever we’ve stayed with, as you can see from our pick of the pads in this post  we have always had an absolutely fabulous experience (all tried and tested by yours truly.) It was after one of these stays that a reader wrote and asked me how to Airbnb like a boss, so I’m spilling the beans and sharing my seven favourite tips and tricks to find awesome Air accommodation every time.

1. Location, location, location

One of the best things about using AirBnB is that you get to live like a local in a neighbourhood of your choosing. However,  with so many options it can be hard to know which area to choose. Before you book, do your research – search the net, check out Airbnb guides, ask your friends and post questions on message boards.

Once you have decided on your ‘hood of choice, you can filter your search in that area. Airbnb will never give you the exact location of a listing until you book but with the help of a bit of detective work and Google earth you can usually have a pretty good idea of where your pad is at. Sometimes, the listing will mention the name of the building or landmarks near to it, making it very easy to find.

Vancouver Aribnb

Gorgeous 1 bedroom – walk everywhere, Vancouver

2. Narrow It Down

One of the best (and worst) things about Airbnb is that there is so much accommodation out there, you will be spoilt for choice and it can be hard to know where to start.

Once you search for the city you’re visiting, you’ll see have the option to apply “More Filters”. Before you look at any of your options,  click this box. A drop down menu will appear and you will be able to filter your heart out and make selections on everything from the number of bedrooms to amenities and from house rules to the languages that your host is able to speak.

When applying the filters, consider the length of your stay and the things that you’d ideally love, really want, but most of all, essentially need. For example, some things like dodgy internet or no laundry facilities might not be a problem for a weekend stay but might be annoying if you’re staying longer. Make sure you have what you need to feel at home and if you’re not sure if the place has what you need, ask your host.

If you see a listing that you like, you can add it to your wish list. This is a great way to have all your favourite finds in one place and it’s also a neat way to share what you’ve found with others that will be staying/travelling with you.

Seattle Airbnb

Centre of Pike Street, Seattle

3. Consider bucks and budgets

The good news is that although Airbnb rates will vary from city to city, the one thing you can be sure of is that it will almost always be cheaper than a hotel. You can sometimes save more if you book well in advance and there are often discounts for long stays.

Set a budget before you start your Airbnb search because quite frankly, it’s just too disappointing to look at places that you can’t afford! We prefer to pay a little extra for a premium location with everything on our doorstep but you can usually get more bang for your buck if you’re prepared to stay further from the action. Wherever you’re planning on staying, it’s always a good idea to check out the cost and availability of local transport, Uber estimates and if you’re thinking of hiring a car, you’ll want to check out hire rates and parking.

When you book accommodation through Airbnb,  all fees are included in the total price so unlike some hotels and other booking sites,  you don’t have to worry about taxes and resort fees being slapped on to your bill. Although you pay the full amount when you make your reservation, Airbnb holds the payment until 24 hours after check-in before giving it to the host. This allows both hosts and guests time to make sure that everything is as expected.

Katoomba Airbnb

JenChi Holiday House, Katoomba

4. Communication matters

Communication is fundamental to the Airbnb experienc.! You don’t have to fill up your host’s inbox with messages but it is good to keep in touch with your host along the way.

Before you book : It’s a good idea to get a “feel” for the host so drop them a message with any questions you may have and the dates you want to book. You want to be sure that your host is responsive and is able to answer your questions before you splash your cash.

Immediately after booking : Send your host a short message, introducing yourself (and the people you’re travelling with,) briefly mention your travel plans and of course, how excited you are!

Prior to arrival : Check in with your host, fine tune any last minute details and confirm your arrival date and time. This is especially important if you are arriving early or late.

When you arrive : It’s most likely,  your Airbnb host loves travelling and seeing the world as much as you do. If your host takes the time to greet you on arrival, be friendly even if you are travel weary/jet lagged, because that personal connection is one of the best bits of the Airbnb experience.

If you experience any problems during your stay, do contact your host and give them the opportunity to rectify the situation because after you leave it will be too late.

Prior to departure : Make sure you both know what time you will check out and the key protocol.

Byron Bay – Luxury Cottage in Town

5. The hosts with the most

When it comes to the local area, your hosts are  fonts of all knowledge and are more than happy to share that knowledge. Most hosts will leave you their own virtual guidebook, or at least a list of their personal recommendations.

There are now a growing number of  Airbnb guidebooks;  collections of the best places in cities as told by Airbnb hosts. You’ll find everything from sightseeing to shopping, eating to entertainment and of course, all the secret spots. Like the best things in life, these guidebooks are totally free!

Where possible we always try to choose a super host for a number of reasons. At least 80% of their reviews are five stars, their response rate is 90% or higher and they rarely cancel. Although, nothing in life comes with a guarantee, booking with a super host gives a little extra peace of mind.

Toronto Airbnb Pina

Stunning condo in great location, Toronto

6. It’s not a hotel

It’s not just the Airbnb accommodation that’s not like a hotel, it’s the booking process too. You choose your dates, check the calendar and message the host through the Airbnb service to check if the accommodation is still available on your chosen dates. If the host agrees to your request, they will send you booking approval. Some hosts offer an Instant Book option which offers all the convenience and immediacy of a hotel booking, but we always prefer to contact a host first before we book.

Nothing in life comes with a guarantee, even our travels so read the cancellation policy carefully. Air have 3 cancellation options, strict, moderate and flexible. Flexible,” for example, means that if you cancel more than 24 hours in advance, you won’t be charged for the room rate night—only the service fees. “Strict,” on the other hand, means that even if you cancel more than 7 days in advance, you will only get a 50 percent refund, and if you cancel within 7 days, don’t expect a refund at all.

It’s important to note that if the host has an emergency and has to cancel, you won’t know unless you check your email. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen and it’s happened to us. Just keep an eye on your email and like a boy scout, always be prepared.

There’s no 24 hour check in desk with Airbnb so be aware of this when making travel plans and booking your accommodation. If you need an early/late check in/out most hosts will be happy to accommodate you where possible, but you should check with them first. While your Airbnb home will not have the amenities and services of a hotel but you will have a lot more freedom and a completely unique experience – be prepared to embrace it!

Another, thing to note, is that most Airbnbs won’t have a cleaning service so when it comes to cleaning, it’s DIY. This isn’t a problem if it’s a short stay but if you’re staying longer than a week or two and you don’t want to spend your time cleaning floors and washing the sheets, then you might want to speak to your host about paying to have the place cleaned while you’re there.

Cherie Airbnb Byron Cottage

Byron Bay – Luxury Cottage in Town

7. Review, review, review

Always read the reviews and note what they say about the host is as important as what they say about the place. In Airbnb the two go hand in hand. If the host has other properties, it’s also worth checking out those reviews too. The reviews can also be a great way to find out about the local area as guests will often give a shout out to their favourite finds.

Remember that Airbnb’s review system goes both ways. Not only do you rate the place, but your host will also review you. Be the kind of guest you’d want to receive in your own home and you won’t go wrong.

Coastal Bliss Gerroa

Coastal Bliss, Gerroa

If you’d like to try Airbnb for yourself, you can click here to get started and score yourself $50 in travel credit! Woot!

Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb? Have you got any tips or tricks to add to your list? When you choose a place to stay, what’s  on your list of love, want, need? Do you like to live like a local when you travel?

7 tips and tricks to find the perfect Airbnb

Linking up with Kylie for IBOT and and   Van, Marcella and Lauren and Isabel for Wanderful Wednesday

  • This is timely! You are a mind reader. Am about to book a house in Thailand. Now I’m going to have a rethink based on your tips.

  • LydiaCLee

    They look lovely. We’re staying Air B&B in Malta…I didn’t book it so I hope the other family checked out your check list!

  • Excellent tips, Sammie. I looked around on Airbnb for these upcoming holidays, but I’m such an airbnb virgin I got a little nervous and went with a big hotel. I’ll keep these tips up my sleeve for next time 🙂 #teamIBOT

    • It’s especially good for families, it just gives you so much more space. We’ve stayed in some cracking places with our friends and god children and it’s been just ace. With these tips, next time you go away, you’re all set to book on Airbnb. One extra tip though, if you’re a newbie, you’ll need to set up a profile and get verified. It’s worth doing that anyway, even if you’re not planning a trip in the near future because when you are, you’ll be good to go.

  • We’re booked into a week in a 2br AirBNB apartment at the top of a castle, half an hour north of Lyon in France. So excited! Only a few months to go now 😊

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    I think choosing super hosts is key. We’ve had mixed experiences with Air BNB and usually the less brilliant ones have not been super hosts. But super hosts are also really popular and booked out (well in my experience) 🙂

    • I find some areas/property types have more super hosts than others. If I can’t find a super host, I go through the reviews with a fine tooth comb and choose one with five star ratings all the way. Also, finding a host with more than one property also gives a good insight into both the host and the accommodation. I think just like hotels, really good places get booked really quick, so we always try and book as far in advance as possible.

  • I know nothing about this type of holiday. The accommodation looks fab and I like the sound of these types of holidays.

  • My first and so far only Air BnB experience was when I came to Sydney recently as you know and I enjoyed it – it was small (but fine for just me), reasonably priced, in a great location and I got to meet the hosts who were nice and helpful. Before Air BnB became a thing, I used sites like Vacation Rentals and HomeAway to book apartments in the States, including a 3br in Queens for the family and a condo in Waikiki, both of which were great. Totally my preferred method of accommodation!

    • I never really got into self catering before Airbnb but I really love it now. Your Sydney spot ticked all the boxes, didn’t it? Meeting the hosts is always one of the highlights of my Airbnb experience, not least because they always have such top tips. Now you have such a cool pad Sydney side, you’ll have to come back soon!

  • I’m a long time lover of Airbnb and have found some of the most amazing places to stay and some that were a little ho hum. I’ve just booked a luxury 4 bedroom penthouse in Siem Reap for myself and a couple of girlfriends for a third of the cost of 2 rooms at a resort. Yes, you don’t get a waiter at the pool, but there’s still a pool and we have a room each = no sharing. Woot woot indeed!

    • Your Cambodian penthouse sounds amaze! We’ve been lucky with our Airbnb finds but I think choosing a superhost helps and failing that, five star ratings all the way. Bon voyage!

  • Great tips. We recently used air BnB and loved our experience.

  • Thank you for these great tips Sammie – I’m yet to try Air BnB but can see us using them in the future as I’m hearing such good things!

  • merilyn

    thanks sammie!
    these are very useful and comprehensive tips and tricks hun! … some great pos
    sies all around the world too! yours have been great!
    we stayed in an apartment in brissy near the storey bridge last year and it was perfect for us,
    being in a great location near ferries! the hosts were charming and really accommodating with local knowledge … we didn’t need/want much interaction as we were out all day and tired when we went home! they worked and went to bed early too! all good!
    we could cook at night but generally had late lunches out and didn’t bother much with food at night … maybe just chocolate or whatever!!!;)) … they left a shelf empty in the fridge for us and in the pantry!
    they have since moved to south bank and don’t know if they are doing it again!
    we are certainly going to use airbnb again!
    hope you are having a great day lovely!
    much love m:)X

    • Your Airbnb sounds just the ticket! Our first Airbnb host in Chicago was an absolute gem, his recommendations were the cherry on our trip cake and he was so helpful. He was even going to take us out on his boat! Unfortunately, like your Brisvegas friends, he’s not doing it anymore otherwise I would have definitely included his place in this round up. I’m pleased you had a good experience and I wonder where you’ll Airbnb next!

  • Ooh yes! These are great tips! Airbnb is always our go to when travelling!

  • I love Airbnb! I think the most annoying function of it is when you can’t filter it to an exact neighborhood, though – you have to zoom in various parts of the map and then rescan. Ah well, nothing’s perfect! I’ve had some Airbnb’s I LOVED (Valencia, Spain!) and some… not so much aha (Dublin).

    • I think the neighbourhood search depends on where you’re going and how many places there are to choose. In Seattle, San Diego, Waikiki, Toronto and Vancouver we were able to search for the hood of our choosing from the filters. Maybe it’s a North America thing!

  • I love Airbnb too and always book through the site when I’m staying somewhere for more than 3 nights! The only thing I sometimes find annoying though is the cleaning fee. Some places don’t charge it at all which is fine as you can just clean up yourself then but some others, especially here in Northern Norway from what I’ve seen, charge an insane amount for cleaning which depending on the size of the place and length of your stay, I don’t exactly find justified. It just seems as another way to make a lot of money and I hate when people take advantage of Airbnb in that way.

    • The cleaning fee is really varied and the funny thing is the size of the fee does not always correlate to the cleanliness of the apartment. I always give the place a little clean anyway and leave it in a decent state, I would hate to think that the host/cleaner think we are grubby! My mum used to run a B and B and used to tell me horror stories about dirty guests so I try my best! That said, I would rather pay the cleaning fee and stay somewhere really clean than somewhere a bit sticky! Maybe Airbnb should standardise those cleaning fees. Now there’s a thought…

      • Yes, so true! I mean I always take out the trash and remove the bed sheets and so on but I don’t start hoovering and dusting if I paid a cleaning fee cause I don’t see the point to be honest 😀 But yeah, a general fee would be awesome!

        • I’m such a goody goody! I always take out the trash (but draw the line at the sheets.) At least if there was a general cleaning fee, maybe then there would be a general standard of cleanliness too. Wouldn’t that be nice?!

  • I love Airbnb! But the one we just stayed in Milan wasn’t the greatest. The location was perfect, the apartment was super cute but we had to carry our luggage up 5 flights of stairs and the power went out while were there (just her apartment!). With anything, you never know what you’re going to get but it’s hard to beat the price! #wanderfulwednesday

    • Did they tell you about the stairs? At least you got a free workout, right? I guess the thing with Airbnb is that you should always be prepared for the unexpected. I guess it’s all part of the adventure 🙂

  • Airbnb is the best!! I wouldn’t want to travel without now! 🙂 These are great tips too, I always think a great host makes all of the difference!

    • Yes, a great host is really the icing on the cake of an Airbnb stay. All our hosts have been great, but some really go that extra mile and it makes such a difference!

  • I’ve used Airbnb a few times now and always had a great experience – thank you for the really useful tips. #wanderfulwednesday

  • Great tips here Sammie. We used Airbnb the first time last year when attending a windsurfing regatta in Sydney for my son and couldn’t find a convenient hotel. It was a great idea and we will definately do it again.

    • Hotel prices in Sydney are nuts, I bet your Airbnb was a far more convenient and affordable option! Once you start Airbnb-ing you can’t stop!

  • Bryna | Dotted Line Travels

    I’ve come to really love Airbnb. It’s been especially useful too in finding a place to stay where there aren’t that many hotels/hostels. Great tips here. I chuckled at the “narrow it down” section because I always filter by whether there is WiFi available or not! I can’t live without internet!

  • You’ve stayed at some amazing places! That Byron Bay one looks just fabulous. I have a super host I book with for my Melbourne stays – he has 6 or 7 apartments all located within 10 minutes of Mum and Dad and he’s been brilliant to deal with.
    I always try to choose self catering over a hotel so Airbnb is perfect.

    • We stayed at Byron Bay for our anniversary a few years ago and it was just dreamy, straight out of the pages of a magazine! I do love a super host, our hosts in Seattle and Vancouver both had multiple properties, they were so friendly but so professional and like you’re Melbourne man, brilliant to deal with. For a weekend city break, I love the luxury of a hotel, but anything longer (or more remote) than that and I love the freedom that Airbnb affords.

  • There are some absolutely amazing places on Airbnb these days! I haven’t used it yet, but I’m dying to try it out. I have friends who rented an awesome Airstream on Airbnb once!

    • Yes, you’re right, some of the places are ah-mazing! I bet once you start Airbnb-ing, you won’t be able to stop. How cool it would be to stay in an Airstream?!

  • These are such great tips! AirBnBs are my favorite to stay in when traveling, especially when I’m traveling with other people as it’s almost always way more reasonable that a hotel room. I’m such a big advocate of them and always tell people about their site haha .. You’ve found some pretty amazing ones above, too! I’m going to have to share this with all the Airbnb newbs I refer so they’re more comfortable taking the leap 😀

    • We’ve had great stays on our lonesome and with friends. If I have a good experience, I love to share it, which is way I’m always raving about Airbnb. I love it so!

  • I’ve actually only stayed in an AirBnB once, but I’d like to start doing it a lot more. It’s very useful to know more about how it all works and how to have a good stay. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    • I remember when we booked our first Airbnb, we were so nervous! It turned out to be such a great experience that Airbnb is almost always our first choice for accommodation these days. It’s been a game changer!

  • We stayed in a self-contained studio flat, through Air BnB, when we were in London for a week, it was brilliant!!!

    • I’d love to stay in an Airbnb in London, in a really fancy neighbourhood in the centre of town which would be a far cry from where I lived when I was a Londoner. A girl can dream, can’t she?!

  • I prefer to book through Airbnb rather than staying in hotels when I travel. I feel like it’s a better way to live like the locals do and is usually cheaper too! Great tips 🙂