If you are a frequently traveler, you’ve probably heard about Airbnb. Airbnb is a community online service for people to advertise, discover and booking accommodation – which can range from bedrooms or apartments or houses. For clarity: pretend that I am going to Brazil to spend two weeks, in April. At this time, I put my apartment on Airbnb for those who are traveling to New York and looking for accommodation. Airbnb is nothing more than a large classifieds portal for hosting worldwide (there are 190 countries!). Through photos, descriptions and, most importantly, real user ratings, you can get a sense of accommodation for help in your decision.
What is the great advantage of Airbnb? Depending on the location, the daily rate is much cheaper than a hotel. However, some people still feel unsafe close a deal and booking something by Airbnb … I’ve had this experience last year, when we travel to a region of Pennsylvania for ice ski. We rented a house by Airbnb and our experience was great. But, I was not the person who did all the research work and stuff… So, I launched the invitation there on our Facebook group and bring today the testimony of several Brazilians who have used the service here in New York and elsewhere in the world. The experiences and their tips will help you feel more secure to book something on Airbnb. As I received many testimonials, I’ll split the post into two parts! There are shorter statements and other well detailed, but they all have tips that will help you!
Bruno Brown, Rio de Janeiro – RJ – He has traveled to New York once and he has used Airbnb by the first time in the city.
“Renting a bedroom or apartment through Airbnb makes you feel part of the city, in addition to have more freedom and spending less on food, because you can go to a supermarket. Depending on the hotel, I would not have storage to put groceries. In addition, the cost-benefit is better. My tip is: read ALL the guest reviews, use Google Maps to see how is the region and look for best-rated hosts.”
Fernando Barbosa – Campinas – SP – He has been in New York city once, but it was not his first experience with Airbnb.
“I’ve used Airbnb sometimes – In August 2015 I stayed a week in Chile and ended up having a problem with the host of the apartment. I booked and followed all the correct procedures, just did not pay attention to the recommendations and ratings. I was at the building around 3 am. The doorman that would meet me was not there and the other doorman did not know anything and told me that the host had parking debt. I could not access the apartment, so I took a taxi and stayed with my friend at a gas station convenience store until daybreak. When we got internet access, we rented an apartment at booking. My problem was the host, but when I contacted Airbnb they were solicitous to help me, being concerned to know if I had gotten another place and they returned the whole amount I had paid (R$ 1,000) and still gave me with a $50 voucher.
I usually prefer to book an entire apartment for convenience and privacy. In New York, as the prices are high, I could not afford it. The girl who rented a bedroom for me live in a house at Columbia University and shares the place with 3 other girls. At the time, she had traveled to her country for holidays (Argentina), and their colleagues also were out. So, I was about 8 days (I booked the place for 13 days) with the whole apartment for me. During the following days, another tenant came in, with which I had no problem. The apartment was exactly as in the photos, and I felt completely welcomed and at home. In addition, the host allowed me to use the whole apartment, including kitchen and laundry, both fully equipped. Anyway, it was an amazing experience.
For me, four points are essential when it comes to booking on Airbnb. First, SEARCH: Set your choice of accommodation: hotels, hostels, Airbnb … do a lot of research with a considerable time lag before your trip and during several own days, since prices may vary. Second, EVALUATE: See what rates/ stars the host has, what people talk about him, read the full description of what the place has/has not, see the location and search on transport and security, finally, take the time to make your questions. Third, COMMUNICATION: talk to the host, ask a thousand times to get all of your questions, do not pass anything blank. If you prefer, make a list of everything your need to have ready (wifi, kitchen, refrigerator, etc.). The more you talk with the host, the closer is your relationship with him / her, so you already see their affinities with him. Think like a relationship, even if the host is not at the place, his house will be yours for a few days, then you have to be in a place where there is “chemistry” between you guys. Finally: TRUST IN YOUR instincts (AND AIRBNB), be suspicious: many hosts I talked to wanted me to pay through PayPal instead of using Airbnb, since Airbnb includes rates … do you know what guarantee I would have if I did this? NO GUARANTEE, so trust your instincts, and if you do not like something, ask, ask your questions, and ultimately look elsewhere … do not let the cheap be expensive. “
Elisa Becker – New York – NY – she has been in New York City for three times and now she lives here. She always used Airbnb, but she had problems once, in New York City.
“I’ve always had good experiences with Airbnb. But, I had a problem once, in New York. Me and my friend rented a bedroom near Times Square that was called ” Luxury “. Seeing the photos and price – $89 – it seemed very worthwhile and we closed the deal. A day before our arrival, the supposed “girl” warned us that she would not be present and that a friend would hand over the keys. When we got there, the keys were in the reception. When we entered the apartment, the place stank as rotting food and there was a room full of men shouting and no one to greet us. We were a little shocked. We started calling and a man came from our “supposed” bedroom “, which had no door. He received us in his underwear and asked us, “already?”. When he said that was our room, we asked where we would sleep and he pointed to the bed he was sleeping. So I said, “you were sleeping there”. He smiled and said: “do not worry”. Mattress on the floor, “room” all dirty, same sheets, filthy kitchen. We were afraid to even stay there, still having a bunch of guys in the next room.We left the place at that moment and called Airbnb. We spent 2 hours in contact with them. We send pictures of everything and after explaining what had happened, they returned the money and still gave us a $25 voucher. I’ve used Airbnb in the United States, Europe and Brazil and I recommend for everybody. I prefer to book a bedroom, because is more affordable and, for me, the advantage is not only the price but the social networking: you can meet new people around the world. My tip is: contact the host, compare the information with the photos, always ask about the bathroom and also check with there are attractions near the place if it is a city you do not know much. I do not know if the Airbnb very worthwhile in New York – I used the YMCA, which is like a club, with many rooms per floor and the bathroom is shared (but always super clean). “
Alessandro Lavinas – Juiz de Fora – MG -He has traveled to New York City five times – and he used Airbnb in three of them.
“My experience with Airbnb was the best! My hosts were always very kind and, as the website is very serious, all that has been promised has been fulfilled. I also used the service in Philadelphia and Boston. On these trips, I was alone or with just one person, So, I rented bedrooms. I noticed that these two cities the hosts were closer and more solicitous. Tome, there are basically two advantages of booking something on Airbnb: the price (usually cheaper) and the opportunity to meet local people … the only problem that I had was in Philadelphia. A week before traveling to USA, I received a statement from the site saying that my reservation had been canceled – the hosts claimed family problems. Airbnb gave me two options: my money back or vouchers to a new reservation – I choose the first option and I a booked a new location, paid for it, and the next day, the first payment for money had been refunded to my card. If you want to use the service, you need to choose very well the location (the site offers a guide to cool neighborhoods), read the information, and especially the reviews. There are some details that you can filter, such as, internet, TV, air conditioning. Pay attention, especially in New York, if the apartment is not on the fifth floor of a building without elevator – ever happened to me, but I did not pay attention to the description of the location. For those with heavy bags or are traveling with children, it can be a nightmare. Oh, and check if the place is close to the subway! The extra tip is to research a lot! Besides Airbnb, always search for on booking.com. In July, for example, I found a hotel next to Central Park for a much better price than on Airbnb. So it’s not always good price guarantee. And one last thing, look ahead at least about 6 months and find good deals! “
Cileia Prebianca – Florianópolis – SC – She has traveled to New York once and he has used Airbnb by the first time in the city.
“For me, the biggest advantage of booking som place on Airbnb is the price. Considering the exchange rate, and the fact that you can prepare meals, it was a way to reduce costs. I stayed in an apartment, and my research, I looked for location: I stayed at 47 between 7 and 8 Av. The apartment was very good and well equipped, however, I thought cleaning was not so good – at least I’m used to. I have not been at any big supermarket, so, I bought a lot of fruit on the corner stands, It was an alternative to have more healthy snacks on hand.”
Daniele Fátima – São Paulo – SP – She has traveled to New York City once, but it was not her first experience with Airbnb.
“I like Airbnb. I already had used the service before, in Berlin, 2014. I prefer to rent an entire apartment than a bedroom. For me, the advantages are the price, comfort and privacy. My tip is: do a lot of research abou the region – I always check the area on Google Maps -and the host, reading the comments. Give preference to ads that bring a lot of information about the property and photos and ask lots of questions to the host before closing the deal. “
Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.