I want to start out this post by saying, I never thought that I would like staying in a stranger’s house. I had never stayed in a Bed and Breakfast growing up, and felt like it was some taboo invasion of privacy or something. Every fear my mom has taught me was in the back of my head reminding me to be cautious. Like, what if the people are really strange and I feel creeped out, but I’ve already paid to stay with them for a week? What if they don’t like my habits and don’t like me staying with them? And what if it’s cheaper than a hotel for a reason, ya know, not a good reason?
I have to say, that I was COMPLETELY WRONG about all of my assumptions. Mike and I decided to choose AirBnb while we were traveling to Scotland because, well, it was SO much cheaper than hotels we were looking at. We did quite a bit of research, made sure we were staying with people that had great reviews, and you know what? It was one of my greatest travel experiences EVER!
First of all, some of these places are not the person’s actual home. A lot of people are using their rental property to make a little extra money on websites like Airbnb. So in that instance, you basically have the run of the place (unless they have other quests staying as well). There’s even a option to rent entire houses/apartments when you are looking for a listing on Airbnb, so if you want to make sure no one else is staying with you, that’s a great option. But we’ve really never had a problem even with other people staying in the same house/apartment because we are too busy exploring during the day and really only come back at night. But most places encourage you to use their kitchens and living space.
Another huge plus is that the hosts can usually make wonderful recommendations on local places to visit and eat. They always know the best places that aren’t packed with other tourists and sometimes they will offer you discounts if they can get it. We stayed with a chef in Aberdeen (who actually was away on vacation so sadly we didn’t meet him) but he gave us a discount to eat at his restaurant while we were in town, which was fantastic!
Since you get to choose where you are staying, and there are so many houses to choose from these days with Airbnb becoming more and more popular, you can pick places that are close to what you will be visiting. For instance, our last weekend in Edinburgh, we stayed with a man that lived right off the Royal Mile. It was unbelievable to step out of your apartment and be right there. It’s seriously like you are living in the area and and it immerses you so much more in the culture.
It also allows you to meet locals, and that honestly made our trip. We stayed with a darling family on Isle of Skye, and not only was their house and view like something from a magazine, they literally rolled out the red carpet for us. The wife was sweet enough to drive us around the island, because everything is really spread out there, and she and her daughter showed us their favorite swimming hole and took us into town for every meal. Next time we go, I will absolutely stay with them again, if they are available of course, because we had such a fun time with them.
And the review process is super easy at the end. They review you, and you review them. They want a good review, because that means more customers, and you want a good review because that means more places will let you stay with them. (They have the option to deny you staying with them at the beginning, but I doubt that that would happen unless you trashed a previous place or something. I like that it’s a mutual choosing.)
My recommendations on using Airbnb if you have never done it before: choose someone with a great rating (read their reviews!), rent an entire apartment if you can since it’s more comfortable to have your own space, and pick a medium priced place that you are comfortable with, because the super cheap ones still make me a tad nervous, and the expensive ones are, well… expensive.
Granted, I was traveling with Mike, and might have felt more uncomfortable if I was traveling alone, but it still certainly beats hostels by a long shot.
I will also say, we did pick one hotel while in Scotland because they were having a discount. I won’t name it, because it was by far the worst place we stayed in Scotland. There’s no doubt in my mind anymore that a person renting out their home can have a low price, because they don’t have any overhead, but a cheap hotel is a cheap hotel. Next time we travel, we are going to do Airbnb all the way!
All of the places I mentioned in this post that we loved are linked over on my travel page, under recommended lodging.
Have you ever tried Airbnb? Any hosts you would recommend?