Renting someone’s apartment while travelling can be an interesting and economical alternative to a hotel or a private room in a hostel. Renting an apartment or room in a private home provides a unique opportunity to interact with local residents, stay in private surroundings, and depending on the apartment may provide additional features such as a kitchen, all at a price that in many cases may be cheaper or at least competitive.
The website airbnb.com serves as a portal connecting hosts and guests. Hosts list the space they want to rent, which could be a room or an entire apartment or home, with the price per night and dates available, along with photos and additional information. Guests can look for places available in the area where they want to stay, review the information on line and book the space. Contact information is provided to make the necessary arrangements directly with the host. Payments are handled through the airbnb site. A deposit is required, which is credited after you leave and the host accepts the condition of the space.
Hosts can post feedback regarding their guests on the airbnb site, and guests can post reviews of the space, their hosts, and their experience. These comments are available for others to see on the airbnb site, providing transparency.
On a recent trip to Europe, rentals in Ostende, Belgium; Barcelona, Spain; and Nice, France provided apartments that differed in terms of style, décor, services, and the surrounding area. They all met all requirements in terms of function and services, with accommodating hosts, comfortable beds, working bathrooms with hot water, private access, reasonable check-in and check-out times, and competitive prices.
A studio apartment in a quiet residential neighborhood in Ostende, a few blocks from a beautiful North Sea beach, was delightful, with a kitchen and TV and very friendly and accommodating hosts. A room in the center of Barcelona provided an excellent location and all the necessary comforts, with a gracious host. A new apartment in Nice offered a great view of the city from a spacious balcony, comfortable accommodations, a kitchen, and clothes washing machine, which was a great plus while traveling, along with a very helpful host.
If you make your plans and reservations before you set off on your trip you should be fine. If you make your plans day to day while you travel, you will need Internet access to check availabilities and make reservations. And in any case you should have a telephone to be able to contact your host to confirm approximate arrival times, find the apartment, and arrange to pick up the key and have access.
Find a Place to Stay, airbnb