Savvy travelers know that Airbnb is often the best way to go when you’re on vacation. In addition to saving you money, these type of accommodations can feel so much more homey and inviting than a hotel room. Plus, it gives you an insider’s perspective on the destination you’re visiting.
But if you’re new to Airbnb, you might not know how to tell the good listings from the bad. Use this handy guide to find out what you should be looking for to get the best Airbnb deals on cool, unique accommodations.
1. Lots of Photos
When a listing on Airbnb doesn’t have a lot of photos, there’s usually something fishy going on. Look through the listing carefully and see if everything mentioned in the description is backed up by a photograph. If it says there are two bedrooms, why do you only see one? If there’s a deck with an outdoor dining table mentioned, why isn’t there a photo of it?
You should be able to get a good sense of what the space is like just from the photos in the listing. It’s especially important for gauging how clean and how spacious the accommodations will be. If there’s something specific you’re not seeing but what to know more about, ask the host for a photo. They should not hesitate to send you one.
Another tip here is to look for the Airbnb official watermark. If you see those photos on a listing, you know it’s being represented accurately.
2. Lot of Good Reviews
One or two negative reviews out of dozens shouldn’t be cause for concern; there will always be a few people who find something wrong with any place they stay. But if there are only a handful of reviews, you need to pay close attention to the details they describe. Because there isn’t as much proof that this is a good host, you should stay away unless all the reviews are absolutely glowing.
For the best results, go with a host that has booked their place dozens of times. In most cases, this means they already have all the kinks worked out in their process and have the whole booking process down to a science, which means a smoother experience for you.
3. A Reasonable Price
You might be so tempted to book that Airbnb that’s listed at half the price of the rest of the properties in the neighborhood, but beware. A price that seems too good to be true likely has some not-so-good surprises. Go through the listing with a fine-tooth comb to see why this listing might be so cheap. Is it a studio when most others nearby are two-bedroom apartments? In that case, a significantly cheaper rate makes sense. But if it seems similar to the other properties nearby, there could be serious drawbacks to the place that the host isn’t revealing. Ask lots of questions of the host before you consider an oddly cheap place for your stay.
4. Straightforward Rental Agreements
Always read carefully through the host’s rental policy. It should be very clear what the host expects of guests and what types of fees you might incur for violating the policy. If the terms seem vague, ask for clarification in writing before signing off on anything. Look for indications that the host is running things in a professional manner, like clearly stated check-in and check-out times and cancellation policies. This will help ensure there are no surprise fees (or worse, legal actions) that you need to deal with after staying at their property.
5. A Lack of Scammer Red Flags
Despite how many great places are listed on Airbnb, there are also plenty of scammers out there. So how can you tell if someone’s trying to scam you? Here are some red flags to watch out for:
- They ask for payment outside of Airbnb. This is definitely a red flag and you should never, ever agree to exchange money this way. Always make transactions through the website.
- They ask for personal information beyond what seems normal. No Airbnb host needs to know any more information than what is included in your profile.
- Multiple listings of the same property. Some legitimate hosts do have multiple properties available, but in some cases this can be a rental agency or a scammer looking to profit off of unsuspecting users. You can go to any host’s profile to see if they’re listing more than one place and get a sense of whether it’s a scam or not.
Despite these potential drawbacks, most Airbnb users have had lots of great experiences when using this online service to book accommodations. One thing you can do to ease your mind if you’re nervous about the place you’ve booked is to research some nearby hotels. Have a few in mind that you can call up in case your Airbnb falls through. But hopefully, your experience will be a great one and you’ll be able to save money and stay in a cool place!