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Airbnb ?

I'll be traveling with my adult daughter in the spring to several countries in Europe. We have a week in the UK and a week in Paris. I need handicapped accessible accommodations. I have found several in my price range.
I've never used Airbnb. The reviews on each bnb are great.
I would like to hear from anyone who has had experience with Airbnb. I would be grateful to see your comments.
i posted here because i didn't find a general Accommodations forum.

Posted by
3793 posts

I've used airbnb quite frequently in the last few years. I've rented both apartments and rooms. I've been very pleased. We've used them in Boston, San Fran, LA, San Diego, Paris, Bath, London, Florence, Rome, Venice...all over. I've never had an issue...but - one thing I do is make sure to read all the reviews (you said the accoms both have great reviews). If people complain about too hot/cold, dirty, noisy - I tend to pass those over.

I also check to make sure they have the amenities I am looking for - kitchen, non-smoking, air con, parking if needed, laundry facilities. And if the option is available, sometimes they have google maps so you can have a look at what the neighbourhood looks like - if it looks dirty and full of graffiti, I tend to pass. I also like to make sure it is relatively close to public transport. We've had some really nice places for great prices (we just had an amazing apt within spitting distance of the Colosseum in Rome for 3 people - under 150 euro a night - never would have found a good hotel in that area for that price).

I've had hosts (when we've rented rooms) who were everything from - here's the keys, do your thing, to one lovely lady who cooked us supper and took us on a drive the next day to see something we would have missed. And we've had some lovely apartments. I wouldn't hesitate to use airbnb. But the biggest thing for me is READ THE REVIEWS!

When you rent the accom, you do pay up front. Airbnb holds the money until a few days after you have been there in case of any disputes. Also, if plans are not totally firm, try to make sure that the person has a less strict refund policy. Some - as soon as you make the payment - if you try to cancel, they may not refund your money if they have a very strict refund policy (even if it is months away), so keep that in mind if you aren't 100% sure about days or the area...there are some with a refund policy that may let you cancel up to 48 hours before or a few weeks before...they may or may not refund the total amount. That being said, I've never cancelled any of my choices. I had a lady who double booked and had to cancel a night - she refunded and offered 20% off the next 2 nights if we still wanted to stay. I just booked a hotel for the cancelled night, then we did the other two as planned.

Posted by
589 posts

My wife and I stayed at eight different Airbnb places (both apartments and rooms) during a month-long trip to Europe last summer; we had no problems, it was nice meeting the local people and we saved some money on accommodations. One thing I can add to the very informative post above is that Airbnb hosts are often willing to pick you up from (or take you to) airports or other transit centers, whether they mention this on their page or not; just ask if you are interested. There will be a fee, but in our experience it was the cheapest alternative. This was a lifesaver in Brussels, where we arrived c. 10 PM after twenty-some hours of traveling, and a convenience elsewhere.

Posted by
552 posts

Nicole was pretty thorough with it.

Just to add another voice in the 'go for it' column...
I host full-timed with a home in San Diego and have stayed at over a dozen places in seven or eight countries through them. I aways feel like I get a good value even though sometimes the places are a tad frumpier than the feeling I got from the photos. For instance, I wasn't fully aware of the logistics of a 5-floor walk up at the place we rented in London.

So look at all the photo twice and ask plenty of questions. But do try it out!

P.S. - Please don't pee the bed or put weird things down the disposal without fessing up to the indiscretion.

Posted by
7601 posts

I've recently tried airbnb for the first time. We rented an apartment in London. It had great reviews and the place was just as advertised. I wouldn't hesitate to stay there again. The other apartment we rented was in Provence. It also had good reviews. The location was great, but the apartment was quite a bit shabbier than it appeared in the photos. I had a few issues with the place and wanted to be sure my review mentioned them. The way the questions were asked for completing my review, those comments never made it to the published review. I think the first question asked what you liked about the place. That's what people are reading. Now I know to put all info into that first question. I would still use airbnb again.

Posted by
3793 posts

Yes - someone mentioned that sometimes they will pick you up. Most of the places we've stayed were fairly close to public transport, but we did have a wonderful host in Bath who picked us up at the train stn (he would have been about a 20 min walk or so - with luggage and some uphills. He also dropped us off close to the train stn when we were leaving. Very nice of him. Our host in Atrani on the Amalfi coast - her boyfriend also fetched us from Amalfi - even tho it was a very short walk, there was stairs and some up and downhill to contend with.

The only thing I would say - with us at least, you may be tied a little more to arrival times - the boyfriend in Atrani had to leave for the weekend by 4pm for a wedding, so we HAD to be there (and just barely arrived - slow bus) by 4pm. We had one in London with an awkward key pickup - just had to get off at one tube stop, walk a few blocks to get the key, back to the tube and off at the next stop. I try to give them a time we'll be arriving within an hour or 90 min or so. And try to keep in touch if we look like we're running late. Not quite as easy as with a hotel, where as long as you show up after 1pm, you're good. Generally, these are people (or a friend) who are waiting for your arrival, so showing up 5 hours late isn't cool.

That being said, our host in San Fran...our flight was cancelled and instead of arriving at 4pm, we arrived around 2am! I was able to email her at the airport when the delay happened...she was lucky as she had a lock box with the key in it - so she told us the combination and we quietly let ourselves in. So it is good to have some way to communicate - be it an ipad or phone or computer while on the road in case of delays (free wifi is a godsend!)

Posted by
5817 posts

Just a minor point, but the word handicapped isn't really seen as an acceptable term by some people in the UK as it has negative connotations. Disabled is more commonly used, although some people don't like that either!
If the disability is mobility related and you are intending to use public transport make sure your accommodation is near bus routes rather than tube stops. The tube is a great service but it is not really designed for people who can't walk distances or struggle on stairs.

Posted by
1431 posts

We stayed in a airbnb in london (#1855209). What a disappointment!! Said was 2 bedroom in picadiily circus area. Was a one bedroom with "2nd bedroom" living area with twin bed, couch, dining table. As in photos, TV was not there. washer/dryer broken (reviews from other people staying there) along with musty smell from washer as if water been there for months!! Oven did not work. Called owner, she is out of country. Half of lights in apt not working, one light in bathroom shower on, be very careful since shower very slippery. How are we to use bathroom sink for putting on makeup, brushing teeth, etc. No dressers or closets, (10 hangers for 3 guests) so lived out of suitcases. one set of keys which was difficult if we wanted to go separate ways!!! Had a loose cover over radiator which fell, thank god not on our toes which almost happened. Moved it away to living area so would never hurt us. 2nd bedroom or living area is very noisy being that window is right above charing cross road, heard every car, siren, bus going by all night long. Had to buy ear plugs. Even though is was a great area of london, i would never recommend this apt. Hopefully the owner will tell the truth about her apt. Go elsewhere!!!

Posted by
13 posts

We used http://www.homeaway.com/ to find an apartment in Paris, and it was the best experience one could hope for. It was a two bedroom place in Montmartre, rented by a citizen of the place we were living. The accommodations themselves were great, and it felt like a great, 'connecting with real people' type experience. My one suggestion to you would be to add more weight to the reviews of locals or nationals than tourists or others passing by; they know what's up.

Have fun. :)