Airbnb vs. VRBO & Homeaway

I have used VRBO and Homeaway many times and have been happy with my selections all but one time in Paris. For an upcoming trip to Washington D.C. I want to get an apartment and I'm looking at those websites and at airbnb. It looks like airbnb charges a fee of varying amounts. My question is for those who have used airbnb, what were your experiences?

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
663 posts

We used airbnb to rent anapartment on Capitol Hill for a week last fall. It was a good experience and value, we thought. The owners lived upstairs and looked in on us but weren't intrusive. I'm sure they would have dealt with any problem if we'd had one. We've also used homeaway.com in various places (including Paris) with good results, and as you probably know vrbo is the same ownership. I think the advantage with airbnb is that they take your payment and hold it until you've been in the place for a day, so if it's unacceptable you don't have to recover from the owner. Also they take credit cards which many individual owners won't. As I understand, homeaway and vrbo charge owners an annual fee to list on their websites, and they connect potential tenants, rather than taking a fee or commission on each rental as airbnb does. So you're payoing airbnb a fee to put you in a place, but you're paying homeaway and vrbo indirectly through whatever the owner is charging you. PM me if you want to know more about the place we got in DC. We love the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where we used to live. I've followed your other thread on your trip and think you're wise to look for an apartment in the city if you can find one you like.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4867 posts

Dick, was the place you rented formerly the home of a senator? It sounds like the description of one I looked at. I was focusing on the DuPont Circle area and close by. I looked at a few places in the Capitol Hill area too. How did you find that area after hours? Were there many restaurants, etc.?

Posted by Claudette
huntington beach, ca, usa
471 posts

I used airbnb for flats in London and Barcelona just about a month ago. The apartments were just as they were shown on the website. Theres an airbnb fee but other fees are decided by the landlords themselves, I think. At both places, we were met by someone personally and shown around the apt. Once you book, you'll get the landlord's phone number which makes communication very easy.

Posted by Claudia
Land of La
2010 posts

Love airbnb. Never a bad experience. Give it a shot. While in D.C. see if you can spot the carved head of Darth Vader outside the National Cathedral. Bring your binoculars. BTW the 360 degree views of D.C. from the Cathedral's Observation Gallery are exceptional.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
708 posts

I have airbnb'd in : Boston, London, Florence, Villefranche sur Mer, Paris and Bath. I was happy with all (some more then others, but always liked the price). I always like to check on google streetview if they have it to see what the area looks like, and I try to avoid ones who charge for cleaning (some have, what seems to me , like pricey 'cleaning fees'). We've had everything from people who were just like 'Here's the key' and keep to themselves, to the lady in VSM who cooked us supper and took us for a scenic drive to the amazing place in Florence in a 15th C villa for $45 a night (yes, $$, not euro)! I just make sure to do my homework and read the references, look at location and amenities.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4867 posts

Thanks everyone. I found interesting places on both vrbo and airbnb. After showing the places to my husband we decided on one of the vrbo places. After your votes of confidence with airbnb I won't hesitate to use them another time.

Posted by Geor
Seattle, Wa, USA
168 posts

I will be visiting Washington DC in early July, and I did not have a good experience with Airbnb. The first place where I made a reservation and for which I paid for four nights was a complete condo unit, not a spare room. The owner was ordered by her home owners association not to accept any more short term rentals so her nice unit is no longer listed. Since I will be arriving in Washington around noon I was looking for a place where I could drop of my main piece of luggage, a roller duffel, see the local sights without being encumbered with the luggage, and then return in the late afternoon to officially check in. I asked four homeowners about this: two said that they could not do this and two never replied. I did not like the fact that a fifth, who I did not contact, wanted more information about me - specifically a link to my listing on a social media web site which I do not have. Finally, I am in town to attend an outdoor activity which can be postponed because of weather. Some of the airbnb apartments have strict cancellation policies (eg, you forfeit 50% of your fee if you cancel anytime in advance, lose 100% if you cancel within one week of checkin). Given all this I decided to book a room at a hotel even though it cost more. I know that I can drop off my luggage, cancel within two days with no fee, and be as anonymous as I wish.