If you have any inclination to stay at a rainforest treehouse in Costa Rica, or a geodesic dome cottage in the California countryside, Airbnb has you covered. Just looking for a cheap place to crash as you backpack around Europe? Check out Airbnb’s wide variety of available couches and futons. The beauty of the site lies in its variety, but there is a certain amount of risk involved when booking a stay in a stranger’s home. The last thing anyone wants to worry about when traveling is whether the sheets have been washed recently, or worse, if the host will even show up. Here are a few helpful tips for choosing reliable, attentive Airbnb hosts that suit your style.
(screenshot via AirBnB)
1. Pay attention to details.
Does the host provide a thorough description of the place and the location? Have they included many clear photographs of each room? You can always request more information or better pictures from the host, but if they aren’t willing to put their best foot forward from the get-go, you might want to look elsewhere. That way you minimize the chance of surprises. That is, unless you don’t mind showering in a moldy bathtub.
2. Do a little stalking.
We’ve all become experts at scoping out what our ex is up to, without him or her having a clue. The same skills apply when looking for a room on Airbnb. Check out the host’s Airbnb profile, which will be filled with rave reviews if they are a successful host. Tried-and-true accommodations will have the most reviews. Avoid unresponsive hosts by checking out their response rate, response time and the date of their last calendar update. And, try to get an idea of the host’s personality. If they are the quieter, grandmotherly type, and you are into the all-night club scene, chances are it’s not a good fit.
3. Ask questions.
Don’t hesitate to contact a potential host about something that is unclear, or if you just have a general question about your destination. Many hosts lay out house rules along with cancellation policies in their listings, but if you have any special requests or circumstances, check with them first before booking. Even after you’ve booked, a good host should be willing and able to answer questions about your trip.
4. Stay in touch.
Make sure you communicate with your host ahead of time and confirm the time you are scheduled to arrive so they can plan accordingly. If you don’t hear from them, something might be up. Of course, stuff happens. Have your host’s contact information on hand when traveling so you can give them a call if your flight is delayed, or you can’t find their place. In the rare case your host is MIA, or you show up to find your room looking like something out of a horror flick, call Airbnb’s emergency line and see what they can do to help. They want to protect their brand, so if your situation warrants making a fuss, let them know about it – Airbnb corporate has an active presence on Twitter and Facebook.
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Amanda Bates is completing her Masters degree in Journalism from Ohio University. A midwestern girl at heart, she does travel great distances for food (and drink). She writes about the world from a foodie’s perspective on mandibleblog.com, and is also working on building her collection of vintage barware. She would love to write for Saveur or Lonely Planet someday, but will probably have a pretty good time regardless of where the journey takes her.