RULE NO.1: READ THE REVIEWS
From a bamboo tree house in Ubud to an apartment overlooking Table Mountain in Cape Town, I’ve slept in countless strangers’ homes on my travels. And I’m not the only one dabbling in the homesharing market as an alternative to hotels. Last year, online portal Airbnb reported that it accommodated more than 100 million guest arrivals and the company is growing so fast, it’s now worth more than some of the world’s major hotel chains including IHG and Hilton.
I don’t always choose Airbnb over hotels, but when I do, I make sure I’ve done my research. And there are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
READ THE REVIEWS
Number one rule in the Airbnb handbook: always read reviews about the host and property from previous guests and avoid listings that have never been reviewed. The feedback, which is made public, is a good way to gauge what people have liked or disliked about the stay and will give you first-hand insight into the host’s personality, hospitality style and the convenience and vibe of the location.
OPT FOR SMALL COMFORTS
Past reviews are a good way to find out about any thoughtful touches or exclusions that can make or break your stay. In South Africa, it’s common for hosts to leave a complimentary bottle of wine for guests, while elsewhere, tea, coffee, milk, bread and orange juice are more standard. Many also do neither.
TAKE THE RIGHT KIND OF RISKS
According to the online portal, Airbnb now has more than five million listings worldwide and a handful of them include unique spaces such as castles, tree houses, tents, ryokans, yurts and caravans. Stay somewhere you normally wouldn’t (as long as it has glowing reviews, of course).
RESEARCH THE LOCATION
Once you’ve decided on an area,
Airbnb offers access to out-of-the-ordinary accommodation such as this treehouse in Atlanta, Georgia.