Five reasons why Airbnb is not really for me

I received a special offer from Qantas to receive extra frequent flyer points if I give Airbnb a go. I don’t think I’ll be taking it up.

Is the couch too comfy?

As I’ve said before, I prefer to stay in hotels — specifically brand-name hotels — and it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get me to go into a privately owned home. Again.

While I haven’t used Airbnb, I have used a similar service that put me into an apartment in Paris. It was a good deal, and a lot cheaper than a hotel would have cost, but I wasn’t truly comfortable there.

So here are my five reservations — get it? — about booking private accommodation online:

Sharing. For starters, I’m not going to share my space except with somebody I’m extremely fond of. So I won’t be taking a room in anybody’s house while they are still living there. Why? Because I’m a grown up who is far too set in his ways. It isn’t a holiday if I can’t wander around the lounge room in my underwear.

Price. If I’m not just taking a room, then it comes down to apartments or houses, where the price advantage over hotels begins to evaporate. If it even existed in the first place, that is. A simple search of places I know well suggests to me that a lot of people are asking a lot more than their apartment or house is worth, while offering a lot less in terms of amenities than a hotel.

Location. Hotels are generally in the centre of the action or somewhere where travellers, such as business people, need to be. In most cases, private homes are not.

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The experience. I’m told an Airbnb offers an authentic “local” experience. But does it really? Is a note from the owner informing you about a nice pub or coffee shop superior to the combined knowledge of the concierge and other hotel staff? And let’s face it, you’re not instantly going to make friends with the neighbours or build up a rapport with the baker and the owner of the cheese shop down the road. Unless you plan on staying for weeks or months, you’re never going to get a handle on the place.  At least the hotel has a bar where they may not know your name, but they are paid to be nice to you.

The vibe. Frankly, staying in somebody else’s place kind of freaks me out. Even when they are friends. It’s not just the underwear thing (see above), it’s the whole feeling of being in a home that is normally inhabited by others. It’s like buying into their life. Hotels, on the other hand, are made to be comfortable and functional, but more or less generic. Good enough to sleep in, but not “homey” enough to make you want to hang around and watch TV all day. When I’m on holiday, I need to be in a place that encourages me to get out and about.

Am I being too harsh, unadventurous or just plain stupid? Your thoughts are welcome in the comments section and/or on social media.

4 thoughts on “Five reasons why Airbnb is not really for me”

  1. I’m a fan and can give a number of reasons but he are a few. I should mention I have always booked while units with the family rather than shared

    1 Cost – I’ve stayed in about half a dozen AirBnB places in Europe and Australia and never paid more than about 60% of the cost of a hotel. In Berlin three of us shared a 2 bedroom apartment in Prenzlaurberg for about 2000 euros for a bit more than a month

    2. Facility – if you are starting for any length of time you get tired of eating out and the cost mounts. Being able to stay in a place with a regular kitchen is a cost saver, and shopping at the local supermarket adds to the cultural experience

    3 Culture – love living next to people going about their daily jobs, watching what the commuters order for breakfast and trying it. Catching the uBahn from Eberswalder Strasse with the locals is part of the charm

    Things I agree with you about
    * Not into shared living spaces with strangers
    * You need to make sure you have a clear idea of the location compared to places you want to go
    * Avoid rentals where the owners have a number of places
    * Prices over time have risen, particularly at peak times in popular prices

  2. Another couple of Facebook comments, including one that disagrees with me:

    Wow so disagree! Some years ago i was sent to Japan to cover a Davis Cup tie. Work said I had to find my own accom. That was the deal. Found a homestay. Tennis was boring. Living with local family for some days was fantastic.
    last year wanted to go to Olympics. Hotels were obscenely expensive. Found a great condo on Airbnb for a fraction of the hotels’ prices. Fantastic! In heart of Copacabana near beach.Hotels are ok but how many special memories do they give you? Sorry. Brett. You’re a fuddy duddy!

    I am so on board with this.

  3. Some comments from Facebook:

    Most of the Airbnb properties Ive stayed at have been people’s second properties or investment properties so they’ve felt like a hotel style apartment anyway.

    Yes steered away from anything that looked really like their home. I don’t like that responsibility to look after everything -not that I break things in hotels- too much pressure.

    We managed to find ‘whole’ apartments/townhouses in inner city, which was really good – close to the action, but also a bit of neighbourhood stuff going on as well. But on the whole you are likely correct… And I will add, the pushing up rents thing bothers me enough to concur as well.

    —-

    I don’t use AirBNB I hate how they are inflating prices and leaving residents potentially homeless. Plus I agree with you Brett, hotels beat people’s residences hands down. I want luxury when I’m on holiday and you don’t get that in a stranger’s manky spare bed

    —-
    Totally with you on this one Brett

    —-
    My feelings exactly. I stayed in a share-apartment in Sydney a few months ago and while the hosts were great I felt uncomfortable.

    My sentiments exactly – I’m not a fan of stayz or airbnb. I want everything a hotel or BnB provides, not someone’s house so they can make money and pretend to be a hotel and only damage the reputation of destinations. My first experience – the owner really couldn’t give a damn about my potential booking. So didn’t book. Well said Brett.

  4. Five for five — you nailed all the reasons I say “no, thanks” to the Air B&B adventure. Visiting a strange city is enough of a foray into the unknown; after dark I crave the comfort, security and privacy of a reputable, professionally run hotel, with the promise of a magnificent breakfast buffet come morning.

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