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Has anyone used AirBnB?

I'm at the very beginning of trying to put costs together to see how much a 10 day trip to Paris and Barcelona would be. I'm thinking we could save a lot of money by staying in an apartment. It actually makes me somewhat nervous, the unknown.

In Paris, where is a popular and pretty area to stay. The boys will be 20 and 23.

Posted by
2920 posts

Re the first response, LOL.

Lulu, Are you looking for two bedrooms for the group, including the two young men? How many are in your party? In any event, you may want to read up on the questions around vacation rentals in Paris. Are you planning to go this year or next year? Here is an article on the vacation rental situation from 2014: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30580295. I believe that laws further restricting short term rentals are being considered so the situation may be different next year. People have continued to rent apartments and will probably continue to rent them until there is widespread enforcement of the laws but if the unknown makes you nervous, you want want to educate yourself about the market.

Posted by
158 posts

It could be a good option. I have used it in the US and have been looking in Barcelona and other cities recently.

The real downside is that the host / home owner can cancel at any time. You'll see reviews that say, "The host cancelled 9 days before the reservation." And then you are pretty much stuck finding a back up hotel or different airbnb. Of course that could happen with a hotel but it seems much less likely.

I'd read the reviews of any place before you book it and look for no cancellations and people indicating the host has great communication.

Posted by
6451 posts

And in answer to the title of your post "Yes, I have used AirBnb. Rented apartments and single rooms."

What are you trying to do? Budget? Get some recommendations for Paris and Barcelona? Paris is cracking down on rentals but websites like Paris Perfect are holding stead fast without issues.

Can definitely save money in an apartment as you can buy groceries and not spend money eating out. Very nice way to blend into your environment.

A bit more clarity on your part and we ( the forum posters) will better be able to share our travel experience and insights.

Posted by
672 posts

Lulu, you can search for previous threads about Airbnb by using the search function (at the top of the page).

My wife and I have used Airbnb many times both in Europe and this country, with only one problem: Our apartment in Arles was too warm to sleep during a serious heatwave, so we had to go elsewhere (and received a refund from the hosts). Since then I have made sure that places we stay have AC, or least cross-ventilation, in places where night temperatures might be an issue.

So go for it, don't be nervous. Make sure the place you choose, and the host or hostess, have a large number of excellent ratings from previous guests and you will be fine. You certainly will save money; our apartment in Paris--admittedly a 6th floor walk-up--was $72/night. You can also shop for food and eat in, which saves a lot on restaurants.

As for where to stay, we stayed in the 4th arrondisement, which is called "Le Marais," and it was wonderful. The Latin Quarter/5th arrondisement is also really cool. If you search something like "where to stay in Paris" or "which arrondisement?" there will be lots of threads where people deal with your question.

Posted by
219 posts

We always stay in rental apartments or condos when we travel. It has definitely been a cost savings for us. While we have not used Airbnb, we have used Homeaway, VRBO, and Holiday Lettings (a UK based site). We have had very good experiences renting in London, Paris, and Kauai. I would encourage you to check some of these other companies to have good comparisons. As other posters stated, be sure to thoroughly check the reviews of other renters. I also only rent from owners who allow the rental agency to act as a third party financial agent. It gives us some peace of mind that our money is held by a third party as fraud protection.

Good-luck!

Posted by
2466 posts

Both Paris and Barcelona are in the process of approving legislation to restrict illegal short-term vacation rentals, including those rented by individuals and agencies such as AirBnB.

ParisPerfect specializes in high-end luxury rentals, not certain anyone on an AirBnB budget could pay their prices.
You might be better off searching for a family room or two connecting rooms in a legal apart'hotel, which will have kitchenettes and laundry facilities. Or choose a regular hotel, if you really don't want to shop, cook, clean and do laundry.

Posted by
12 posts

I have used Airbnb in Paris (Montmartre) and in Amboise in the past month. Not only was it an economical alternative, but it was also a great way to interact with locals, and even get some insight about the area. The hosts have thus far been very friendly and accommodating. In Paris, we stayed in the 18th arrond., near a Metro station (very handy).

For example, we didn't realise it until we arrived at one accommodation that the house was built in the early 1500s, was spacious, and surrounded by lush countryside. We would not have experienced such rustic charm and history with a hotel (and for $54.00 per night).
It's worth looking into.

Posted by
13658 posts

The AirBnB issue in Paris (and other tourist cities) has been in the news a lot. More on Paris specifically here:

http://www.thelocal.fr/20160113/paris-cracks-down-on-illegal-airbnb-flats

It's up to you but I'd personally follow the advice to either spring for the more expensive legal flat or look into connecting rooms/family room. It's difficult for a tourist to know whether the AirBnB flat they're renting is above board or not.

Posted by
2250 posts

Lulu, while extreme caution is warranted if you were going to rent, there are certainly many apartments available that could suit your needs-easily 60 plus in central Paris on AirBnB for 4 people in the $150-400 range. There are hotel options in that range too, of course, and would be less work for sure, though it would still be a hotel room.

AirBnB is not only for those on a tight budget.

https://www.airbnb.com/s/Paris--France?checkin=10%2F27%2F2016&checkout=11%2F03%2F2016&guests=4&room_types%5B%5D=Entire+home%2Fapt&price_min=150&price_max=404&zoom=13&search_by_map=true&sw_lat=48.811112134680165&sw_lng=2.3343890986395763&ne_lat=48.863610464793645&ne_lng=2.422966369147389&ss_id=zvx5yrms&s_tag=Y7SoFTKY

Posted by
2466 posts

The new law will begin to take effect in mid-September, in Paris. It will affect individuals who own their apartments and have the legal right to rent during their vacation periods, those who currently use their apartments as illegal hotel rooms, and property owners who rent to long-term tenants will also be affected. Currently, a long-term tenant risks eviction if he sub-lets his apartment (which is not permitted in a long-term lease) - and so does the person to whom he sub-lets.

It will be impossible to list vacation rentals on the internet without meeting the requirements for a license, which must be acquired from the City after meeting financial requirements which are aimed to prevent tax-evasion.

But if you're lucky enough to visit Paris before mid-September, you might as well give it a go.

Posted by
133 posts

We used AirBnB last year in Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda & Seville) and are booked with AirBnB for our trip this year. I would definitely recommend AirBnB for reasons cited by other posters (ability to make your own meals, staying in a neighbourhood off the tourist track and more space). AirBnB does take some time and effort on the front end but it is definitely worth it. What I have learned is that it is essential to start with applying filters when searching. For us it was important to have WiFi, a washing machine and AC. Then you need to make sure you know where you want to stay and check out the area on Google Maps, including StreetView. For instance, we wanted to be within easy walking distance of transit. Once you start to narrow down your search read each and every review carefully. The good news is that only people who have actually stayed in the property can write a review which isn't necessarily true on some of the other rental sites. Look for clues about how noisy it is, whether the host or someone else was available in case of problems and for me, I always look to see if someone has commented on the comfort of the bed. The other important thing to do is look at the pictures. I was able to eliminate some properties simply because the place didn't look clean or the furniture looked dilapidated.
Every single place met or exceeded our expectations. Every place we stayed was spotless, almost all had an outdoor space which was lovely for having a glass of wine at the end of the day and they all had recommendations for local restaurants. Our hosts were extremely helpful, especially in Madrid where we had an unexpected challenge (not related to the property). Our host went out of her way to help us especially with translations etc.
Because we were paying less than we would have at a full-service hotel we were able to take a 4-week holiday rather than a 3-week holiday. And, as we were staying in neighbourhoods we ate at local restaurants and were able to shop at markets which also lowered our costs. There are downsides - you can encounter sudden cancellations (I've been told that in this instance AirBnB will help to relocate you but I have no idea if this is true); there are no 'standards' so you can be surprised when you open the door and find the accommodation isn't what you expected; and as there isn't a front desk there is no one to turn to for help or recommendations.
Our experiences have been highly positive and we will continue to use AirBnB.

Posted by
84 posts

with 3 kids, and sometimes 4(a friend to my 17 year old daughter) using vacation rentals are essential to me. I save thousands. Many times I get to a country with only the first stay booked. The rest of the time I book at the last minute.

Posted by
524 posts

Thanks everyone. I was trying to figure out a way to rent instead of booking 2 hotel rooms. We do share a room on shorter vacations with 2 queen beds, but I think that would be more difficult I Paris or Spain. Maybe not. It's just that 10 days is a long time to do that. But I'm not a seasoned European traveler enough to start doing something like this knowing there will be new laws, cancellation issues even without, etc.

Posted by
2466 posts

Lulu - you can book family rooms in both Citadines and Adagio apart'hotels. There are lots of locations, and prices vary by neighborhood and the configuration of the room. These apart'hotels are always near convenient transportation options, so getting anywhere in the city isn't a problem.

If you're staying 5 days in each city, you'll lose most of a day in travelling - ending up with only 4 days. It can be a lot of hassle and expense to stock an apartment with the needed supplies for that short period of time. If you're counting on the washing machine in an apartment, understand that they are normally combination units, which take a minimum of 2 hours to wash and spin-dry a small load - which you must hang to finish drying. Better off finding a nearby inexpensive, efficient coin laundry which will get things done much more quickly.

If you'd rather stick to regular hotels, Mercure, Ibis and Accor are family-friendly, spotless chains that have many locations in Paris.

Posted by
36 posts

Hi Lulu, We just got back from a month in France with our 9 year old son. We used Air BnB or VRBO for four different locations, including Paris. We loved them all! It was wonderful to have the additional space and amenities. They were all two bedroom apartments and two of them had pools, in the countryside. We would do it all over again. When booking, I made sure to read all of the reviews and look for any red flags. I also looked up the address on Google Earth to see what the area looked from street view, especially in Paris. This helped me see what the area looked like and it really helped when we got there, it all looked somewhat familiar. Also, email the owner and ask questions, see how quickly they respond to get an idea of how attentive they will be to issues you may have when there. In Paris we stayed in the 15 Arrondissement near the Pasteur Metro stop. It was near everything we needed, but you might want to check out a different area if looking for nightlife for your sons :) Happy planning!

Posted by
323 posts

We are using Sabbatical Homes.com in Paris. We are using VRBO most everywhere else. We do cook and we like to have our coffee in the morning without having to go out and get it. We rented a great place in Barcelona on VRBO in2013. Haven't used AirBnB. I don't know how much we are saving, the important thing for us is to be able to make coffee and to cook an occasional meal and make lunch etc. We will be gone for two months and this is the first time we have stayed mostly in apartments. Hope it works out for us and for you also.

Posted by
380 posts

How about Vacation In Paris? No one has mentioned this company in this thread. This is a reputable apartment rental company with many satisfied customers.

Posted by
47 posts

My wife and I stayed in the Montparnasse area of France last month using AirBnB for a very nice apt on Montparnasse Blvd. The apt was comfortable and conveniently located, away from the frantic hustle of Ilse de Cite but with plenty of restaurants and Metro/Bus connections. Shop carefully and read the reviews from Renters and Landlord. Go with places that everyone agrees on. Bon Voyage!

Posted by
2466 posts

It's important to remember that the agencies, including Vacation in Paris, operate legally at this point.
However, a new law will begin to take effect in mid-September, which will change the way vacation rentals are advertised on the internet.

The burden will fall on the owner, who must apply for a license from the city - and prove that he reports all income and pays taxes in France.

Since many companies collect money in the US or countries other than France, and pay no taxes in Paris, and since many owners or agencies accept partial payment in cash on arrival, this will require some big changes that many people might not be comfortable with.
If the City of Paris is not satisfied that the owner meets all the financial requirements, no license will be issued, and the rental will be blocked from advertising on the internet.

Posted by
2250 posts

"If the City of Paris is not satisfied that the owner meets all the financial requirements, no license will be issued, and the rental will be blocked from advertising on the internet."

Okay, so can somebody please explain to me how the City of Paris will actually prevent a given website, be it AirBnB, VRBO, Trip Advisor, or Pierre's Vacation Apartments, etc etc, from advertising a given rental unit on the internet. Serious question. What is the legal mechanism that will enable the city to accomplish this?

Posted by
7688 posts

Lulu, I'm not the biggest AirBnB fan although I've never stayed there, but you need to be aware of the biases of certain respondents who make up so far 20% of the responses to your question. That's not to say that they may or may not be correct, but from all appearances they have an agenda to push.

As often as they check in here on questions such as yours to continue to hammer away at their point, you'd almost think it was their job or something!

Posted by
2466 posts

Some of us residents are involved with organizations working closely with the Mayor's Office on the apartment rental issue, so some of us are more informed than others.
Reporting the current news does not an "agenda" make.
Keeping people in the dark often does more harm than good.
There are several current reports on other travel forums stating that clients received notice that their apartment was cancelled precisely "due to the short-term rental ban". People who plan to rent should expect to see more of this, especially after September.

For the last 3 years, before the Mayor's crackdown began, the City of Paris was busy digitizing all information about vacation rentals listed on the internet. This information was used to compile dossiers, which allowed the agents to investigate the property before filing a complaint against the owner. This process was slow, mostly due to problems locating absentee individuals or corporations, who simply did not reply to a request for information.

This same information will be used, according to Emmanuel Macron's office, to block any listing which has not received a registration number from the City. The law gives this office the right to do so.

Posted by
2250 posts

This same information will be used, according to Emmanuel Macron's office, to block any listing which has not received a registration number from the City. The law gives this office the right to do so.

Thanks. Just trying to wrap my pea brain around this. There is the mechanics of the law side, plus the pure technology required in order to prevent listings from appearing in the first place, and then prosecuting the owner. It's pretty much the moment of truth for the whole program, so do tell, please, how will this be accomplished? I was sure that you, as a local involved in the fight against rentals, could explain it.

Posted by
2466 posts

The mechanisms of the law have been approved.
It is apparently simple to block the IPO address of any internet address.
In fact, many rental agencies have blocked access to French-based IPO's - presumably so that residents won't be able to report their apartments.

Posted by
5483 posts

Lulu,
No real answers to your question, just happy to see you thinking of returning to Europe and venturing out as an independent traveler!

Posted by
697 posts

To answer your question about where to stay, we have rented apartments in the Marias (St Paul area) and St Germain des Pres (near Luxembourg Gardens). I also stayed in a hotel once in Montparnasse. As far as pretty, almost all of Paris is pretty. I would want an apartment close to one of the Metro lines. Most are but check the map to make sure its close enough and you will save steps. As one poster said, use Google Earth to check out the neighborhood once you find an apartment that suits your needs. Also check reviews, ask multiple questions and see how responsive the owners are. You will also find on AIRBNB people who are not owners but managers of various apartments. We used those actually for both apartments we rented in Paris with no problems. Good luck & enjoy your trip!

Posted by
646 posts

We have used Homeaway which is essentially VRBO in Paris this last July and about four years earlier. Homeaway has a guarantee function in which they will refund the price if the apartment is not real, or unusable. Not all apartments listed can be insured that way. For Paris we only looked at guarentable apartments. My guess is that Homeaway will not guarantee an apartment that isn't legal. It would get expensive.

Posted by
118 posts

Airbnb has been wonderful for us! We used it on the last two trips to Europe and we will be using it again in Paris early this summer. It's perfect for a grandmother and to basically adult grandchildren. Having the kitchen and washer and dryer is very important

Posted by
118 posts

Airbnb has been wonderful for us! We used it on the last two trips to Europe and we will be using it again in Paris early this summer. It's perfect for a grandmother and to basically adult grandchildren. Having the kitchen and washer and dryer is very important

Posted by
2250 posts

It should be noted that at this point in Paris the law is (still) taking effect e x t r e m e l y s l o w l y. There are tens of thousands of apartments listed on many different platforms, very little active enforcement, and the City has officially only identified 112 buildings where a "legal" apartment may exist, though no contact method for an interested traveler is given. Use caution and do your homework to rent an apartment in Paris-or Barcelona, of course. Legalities apply to the owner, not the traveler here.

Posted by
2466 posts

For the record, no agency - HomeAway, VRBO, AirBnB, Vacation In Paris, or any other agency - will verify that your apartment is "legal". They exist to list apartments, which is all they are responsible for.

For the record, AirBnB will not re-locate you if you find your apartment is not suitable. They only list apartments. You will have to find other lodging on your own.
The burden of proof falls on the owner, who might tell you anything you want to hear.
There are many apartment owners who have failed the test and are now being marketed by agencies as long-term apartments, which are being rented by the year.

Posted by
13 posts

I've not used AirBnB for Paris but have for other French cities/towns as well as in Italy and Portugal. I have had only GREAT experiences but I'm careful about recommendations (have only used "superhosts") and better still try to book apartments that are legally registered for rentals (some Airbnb rentals are registered). In terms of areas, with young men, I'd stay in the St. Germain du Pres or the Marais. Very near many main Paris attractions AND a lot of young adults.

Posted by
46 posts

I second the Homeaway guarantee/insurance feature and have used it several times. Gives you a little peace of mind in case something falls through. I've had terrific experiences renting apartments through Homeaway and AirBNB, in Paris and other places, over the past 7 years. It's worth the little bit of legwork -- just make sure there are lots of positive reviews and make sure you're comfortable based on your interactions with the owner and the terms.

Posted by
2466 posts

Michelle - does the "HomeAway Guarantee" guarantee you another place to stay, if you do not like the place you rented? I don't think it does.
You get a refund, but you will always have to find other lodging on your own.

Posted by
2250 posts

"You get a refund, but you will always have to find other lodging on your own."

Not so fast, chex. While they do not seem to promise re-booking, re-booking assistance does appear to be a part of the HomeAway guarantee.

"When you book and pay through HomeAway checkout and your booking is accepted by the owner or property manager, you are eligible for the Book with Confidence Guarantee.

The Book with Confidence Guarantee provides travelers with following benefits:

Comprehensive payment protection that protects your full rental payment against listing fraud, phishing, property significantly misrepresented and more
Premium customer service that is available 24/7 to help you if you have issues or questions regarding your stay

Rebooking assistance to help you find another vacation rental should your booking be cancelled by an owner or manager at the last minute

Security deposit protection to help you recover your deposit if it is wrongfully withheld

The Book with Confidence Guarantee is to help travelers feel confident booking on HomeAway, reducing booking hesitation that in turn supports our homeowners. We believe that most owners are already very responsive in resolving their own customer issues, and we continue to expect that most issues will be addressed with satisfaction directly between the guest and owner. Should a traveler contact HomeAway for assistance under the Book with Confidence Guarantee, HomeAway will assess each situation case by case. Should HomeAway become aware of repeated or severe situations where a property owner is providing a bad experience or taking advantage of the HomeAway guarantee, we reserve the right to take appropriate action based on the individual circumstances."

https://help.homeaway.com/articles/What-is-the-Book-with-Confidence-Guarantee

For more information, the terms and conditions of the Book with Confidence Guarantee program can be found here.

Arrangement of Lodging. If a Protected Traveler is without a place to stay due to a Protected Incident, We may arrange alternative accommodations, where available for up to three (3) nights.

Rebook another property. If a Protected Traveler’s Reservation is wrongfully cancelled, We may offer to rebook the Protected Traveler at another property advertised on a HomeAway Site, if a substantially similar property is available for the same period and under a new reservation.

Posted by
46 posts

Well, Chexebres, like anything in life, caveat emptor. The little insurance program Homeaway offers gives you a mechanism to get your money back if the place turns out to be a scam or somehow not as advertised. You're absolutely right that you'd be out a place to stay. If you're someone who needs to control all variables, I can see that you might be really uncomfortable with that, but for me, that little bit of peace of mind is enough to keep me happy -- I figure Paris is a city full of hotel rooms, so if the worst case scenario is that I have to take my refund and plunk it down to get a single at an Ibis on the Peripherique, well, I'm still in Paris! For that reason I gravitate toward Homeaway vs AirBNB.

I can understand how any degree of risk would make some travelers really uncomfortable. My personal experience -- and that of many others on this forum have as well -- has been a series of positive outcomes with apartment rentals from Homeaway and AirBNB. I understand that there is a bit of a roll of the dice involved in rentals. I travel constantly for work, and I'm a Hilton hotel loyalist for their points program. When I'm in a new city and tired from a long day it is nice to have some degree of predictability, but I see all the time that even with a huge multinational chain, there is variation from property to property and even room to room within the same hotel -- and there can be unpleasant surprises. There is a certain amount of risk in any unknown. But for travelers who don't have unlimited means, the ability to rent an affordable alternative to hotels that allows for a longer visit can really open up a city in new ways. Just my .02.

Posted by
2466 posts

This may be fine if you are a couple or solo traveler, but many people travel with their children, and extended families.
There is no guarantee that you will be given the same type of apartment with the same amenities that you paid for. In this case, a family would have to go to a lot of trouble to find alternate lodging.

This Thursday, the 5th round of "controles" began, which concern 600 apartments located in 26 buildings in the 2eme arrondissement. Agents will knock on the door, show ID, and ask a few questions about who is staying there. No one will be evicted, and there are no consequences for the renter.

If the owner is found to be renting illegally, the fine has doubled to 50,000 EU.
If the owner is found to be renting legally, for up to 120 days per year, he has to register with the Mayor's Office, as well as have an agreement with the residents in his building, construct or rent an existing property which he owns in the same arrondissement, and declare and pay appropriate taxes, including the taxe de sejour (hotel room tax).

Rents charged by short-term agencies and individuals far surpass the legal rent controls - on average, they charge 2.5 to 3 times the legal amount allowed.
Paris has approximately 30,000 short-term rental apartments listed on all internet platforms, while 120,000 Parisien residents wait for an apartment to become available.

Posted by
117 posts

Not sure the status of your search for accommodations at this point, but we use Airbnb extensively, with excellent results.
A couple of tips:
1. Filter your search results to include only "Superhost" apartments. Nothing is perfect, but this is about as close as you can get.
2. Legal issues brought up in here -- ask the host. As Superhosts, their response rates to inquiries has to be exceptional, I've seen response times within hours, and then decide for yourself.
3. If you pass on #1 and #2, be content with paying considerably more for what may or may not be a better experience at a hotel. But at least your accommodations will be secure and guaranteed top rate, or will they? ;)

Posted by
11450 posts

The " boys " are grown men . Many hotels that allow two parents and two children will not consider those to be children .

What is your budget in euros per night , two cheap rooms is better as you will have two bathrooms .

Also it's uncommon to find two true queen beds , unless you can afford a pricier American chain tyeo hotel .

Posted by
5551 posts

There doesen't seem to be any moral concern here about how harmful short term rentals are to the permanent residents of the building. Even my wealthy NJ suburb has outlawed short-term rentals. Have any of the posters ever had a one-year lease on an apartment in a multi-story urban building?

Posted by
2466 posts

Many of us have had the problems associated with short-term rentals in our buildings.

That is why there are laws being enforced to deal with the situation, right now in Paris.
But we've been warning people about this since around 2009 or so...

Many of us would like to see a "personal guarantee" given by someone who posts that all will go well for those who continue to try to rent.

Posted by
29 posts

Agree some poster(s) seem to be on RS, TA, and Fodors night and day, pushing an anti-apartments agenda. "Like it's their job or something" as someone said.

With the huge downturn in Paris tourism I doubt the Paris Tourism Board will do anything to jeopardize Paris travelers who select apartments for their accommodation. There are thousands to choose from and I have been renting since 2009 , even twice a year, without a single problem, despite the "dire warnings" given on these boards since then. Tons of apartments, tons of hotel rooms. Book the one you want and go for it. I have not used Airbnb but have used VRBO and private agencies.

I have stayed in Paris hotel rooms but they are tiny compared to apartments, and the budget ones offer few amenities. I am OK for 3 days in a hotel, but beyond that i get an apartment. I love shopping and cooking in Paris and i have done those things since my very first trip.

Posted by
776 posts

"With the huge downturn in Paris tourism I doubt the Paris Tourism Board will do anything to jeopardize Paris travelers who select apartments for their accommodation"

Facts:
Tourism is already on the upswing.
The Tourist Board has nothing to do with the mayor's rental inspections. Apples and oranges.

I think people here are just trying to point out that there are risks in renting an apartment. only one of which is the legal status of the apartment.

Posted by
2466 posts

Many people post on every available travel forum, for various reasons.
Everyone has "an agenda"?
Nobody seems to be working "night and day" as a full time job.
It's helpful information for people who need it, that's all.

Posted by
118 posts

I have and it has been nothing short of fantastic. You get a better feel for the area, it's terrific to have a full kitchen and washer and dryer, and is MUCH less expensive than a hotel room - especially if you are traveling with a larger group or three adults, for example.