I’m famous for saying that AirBnb is useless for families and we never use it. If you’re not on Facebook you may not know that, so I’m putting it out there via the blog today because I’ve (possibly) changed my mind. After 3+ years of full-time travel I’m sitting in a glorious light-filled apartment, footsteps from my beloved Thames, paying a very modest price and, yes, it was through AirBnB. I was an AirBnB landlady back in Australia so had great hopes for using this unconventional booking engine as we traveled around the world, but experience taught us that Airbnb for families always worked out more expensive than typical backpacker guest houses and hotels. So after a while, Airbnb and my family, parted company.
London and AirBnb
We spend a lot of time in London so we know the prices here inside out. I should say that we have a fixed “base” here thanks to very good friends, but we also enjoy moving around the city sometimes, exploring different areas, always asking ourselves “Could we live here?” and always answering “Yes.”
These days you’re looking at, realistically, upwards of £80- £125 per night for a family room in a B&B, budget hotel, guest house or apartment hotel. ( There is a full, but evolving, post on family accommodation prices in London here ). We’ve found deals around £50, but that was back in the days of one child stays free in existing bedding, my two are too big for that now. In previous years I’ve always checked AirBnB to be put off by a rising tide of hotels and grotty buy-to-lets stuffed with extra cheap beds. I’ve looked, really looked, and not found anything. The other problem with AirBnb is the tendency for people to add extra charges for extra people, a per night fee of a few pounds which very quickly destroys your once-good price. Of course AirBnb also adds their fee on top of the original price, which again, skews your comparisons. So until now, year 4, AirBnb has been a total fail.
Not any more!
I don’t think it’s fair to plaster other people’s homes all over the internet, so 1 photo will have to tell the story.
We are in love with this apartment. I really couldn’t be any happier.
The price is comparable to that we were paying when we rented a 1 bedroom flat here for 8 months, 2 years ago. It includes WiFi and bills, so overall it’s a sweet deal.
When I was searching for this place I found another, same price, nearby, a family going travelling for a month wanting to rent out their home ( +cat). Another great deal.
Previous AirBnB Bookings
There has only been one. This glorious little apartment in Antigua Guatemala was ours for a month. We checked all the sites, and this place gave us the best price. Antigua isn’t Asia-cheap and there are a lot of well-off tourists there so accommodation prices are skewed in favour of them, AirBnb gave us another winner.
When AirBnb Works for Families
These are my personal findings based on over 3 years of research as a customer and a year of being an AirBnb host, I haven’t done an in-depth study and noted down figures, but I think my findings are valid.
We are not normally slow travellers and we rarely rent apartments, preferring guest houses, hotels, and a typical backpacker scene. That seems to be changing. Spending a month here, a month there, is far less stressful and easier to organise. Like homeschooling, travel changes and evolves with needs and wants.
- AirBnB works best for longer stays, look for 1 month discounts.
- AirBnB for families is great if you can find people letting their actual homes, not businesses hijacking the platform
- AirBnB performs best in expensive destinations.
- Zoom in tight on the map in your search results, extra options appear. This place was one.
- Don’t expect perfection, it’s not a hotel, it’s a home.
My Experience as an AirBnB Host
It was the best hosting for AirBnb! We rented out the master bedroom and en-suite in our home while we were actually there. I massively under-cut local hotels and hostels and started getting bookings within 24 hours of placing my listing. We lived in a holiday town in Australia, so we had a big advantage but it could work in most cities. We hosted all kinds of couples, young and old, one single gent in town for the Iron Man event and one pair who’ve become blogger friends, Andrew and Amy of Our Big Fat Travel Adventure. It was great to meet them all, as a mum of small kids I was always glad of some adult company and the extra cash went straight into our travel fund when we were saving for year 1 on the road.
The beauty of AirBnb lies in its original concept, in private owners renting their homes, not in what it has sadly become, another booking engine.
So, as always, things change. I’ve been scanning global AirBnb lets, considering options and comparing prices. Like our usual favourite booking engine, Agoda, the moveable map is priceless. Maybe we will become one of those slow travelling, apartment renting families. It’s not something that’s ever really appealed before, but the truth is, we’ve been just about everywhere we want to go now and it’s getting harder to find places that we want to backpack around. But it’s still interesting, still fun, we will carry on living differently.
What about you, do you have successes with AirBnB for your family? If so, where?