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Airbnb recommendations: London, Paris, Rome

Airbnb recommendations: London, Paris, Rome

Mar 3rd, 2014, 04:39 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 43
Airbnb recommendations: London, Paris, Rome

Hi all,
My husband and I are planning our first trip to Europe this summer (July), and after months of debate, we've decided to forgo the "tour" route and plan the whole thing ourselves. While we're really excited about the whole process, we're terrified that we're somehow going to mess things up royally planning it on our own. But we're forging ahead anyways!

This is our plan so far:
Dates: July 8th-22nd (14 days)
Cities we're visiting: London, Paris, Rome (fly into London and out of Rome)
Budget: $8,000 (including airfare)
Accommodations: Airbnb???

In wanting to keep our accommodations as budget-friendly as possible, but still wanting to experience the "charm" of Europe, we're hoping to go the "Airbnb" route for our lodging. I've read mixed reviews on Airbnb, but I think that the good has outweighed the bad, so that's what we've decided on.
Does anyone have any overall advice in regards to Airbnb? Or have any recommendations for specific Airbnb homes that they've stayed in in the cities listed above? Or any thoughts in general on our very basic plans thus far? I would really appreciate any feedback. Thanks in advance!!
whitneyd86 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2014, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Air BnB is like any other matching service. Just as with VRBO and other services you need to do all due diligence to understand:

Exact location (not neighborhood or street - but exact address and look at it on google earth)
Is this a legitimate listing (check for references, is there a landline phone that's answered)
What are the payment requirements
Look for lots of photos
Ask every question you can think of (You don;t want to be like the people who found out that their "room" was a walk-in closed and the bath was shared by 7 or 8 people
Understand that in europe many apartments do NOT have AC or elevator - even if on the 4th or 5th floor - know what you are getting
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2014, 06:36 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 97
nytraveler, from my understanding many of the items on your list (exact address, phone numbers, etc) don't apply to Airbnb transactions.
oedipamaas is offline  
Mar 4th, 2014, 02:44 AM
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You don't usually get the host's contact details until you have made a booking. This is partly to prevent you doing a deal on the side (Airbnb would lose fees), but also to protect YOU the customer by keeping all convos, transactions and arrangements within the portal.

The properties can be sorted by 'whole home' or 'room' so there's no way you should ever end up sharing and not be aware of it.

It's not particularly hard to check location, the site is linked in to Google maps, streetview etc and most listings have lots of pictures. Read reviews thoroughly - contrary to recent threads there are bad ones, so you should be able to steer clear of poor quality apartments or unhelpful hosts fairly easily.
RM67 is offline  
Mar 4th, 2014, 05:30 AM
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Airbnb now rivals the world's biggest hotel chains for the number of rooms it rents. It doesn't run those rooms, but rather serves as a go-between. But one significant difference from many competitors, helping its explosive growth, is that the agency manages all the money, including any advance deposit, allowing the customer the safety of credit card transactions rather than direct pay. There is also a feedback procedure. Read the details on its site carefully. You still are somewhat dependant on the individual owners as to how the sites are managed and maintained.
Southam is offline  
Mar 4th, 2014, 06:29 AM
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We had a wonderful AirBnB accommodation in Halifax last Summer. They immediately asked online for our feedback on the property and the owners. They were also asking the owners for feedback on us as renters, and how we treated their property. Ratings go both ways with AirBnB.

My only problem was that they charged my credit card for the rental upon reservations, which means I had to pay 4 months prior to using the home. I'm certain they don't forward the funds to the property owner until after we left. I prefer to pay when I get to a city.
Bamaman is offline  
Mar 4th, 2014, 06:34 AM
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Precisely - you are dependent on the owner of the property.

If they are honest and trustworthy - and there are no misundersandings due to cultural differences it can work out just fine.

However, if you find someone who exaggerates, cuts corners, uses unrealistic photos, etc - yuo can end up with something a lot different than you expected.

I would never do this - we just do hotels since we want hotel services. But if you do choose this route it is similar to renting an apt through many different matching services - and you have to check out EVERYTHING - and not make any assumptions.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 4th, 2014, 07:54 AM
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nytraveler, from my understanding many of the items on your list (exact address, phone numbers, etc) don't apply to Airbnb transactions.


If the airbnb listing does not show either a mapped actual address or a listed actual address then DO NOT RENT. It took me 20 seconds to debunk your claim, oedi: https://www.airbnb.com/s/London?neig...%5B%5D=Chelsea
BigRuss is offline  
Mar 4th, 2014, 09:06 AM
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BigRuss, your link does not debunk my claim. Airbnb will give you a map and street, and a pretty good idea of where the listing is located, but for privacy reasons it does not list the exact address until after the booking.
oedipamaas is offline  
Mar 4th, 2014, 10:28 AM
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Agreed, oedipamaas. I have used airbnb four times, and I get the exact address AFTER I book the place. The map you view before booking will show an area and often the street.

Also, yes, as stated above: airbnb charges your credit card immediately for the space. They hold your money until 24 hours after check-in, at which time, they pay the owner.

I've had nothing but great experiences with airbnb. Sorry I don't have any experiences using it in the countries the OP has listed. I'll be using it in London in a few weeks-- have the place booked but can't offer feedback yet! I will say book early for London; I got a bit of sticker shock with the prices there.
ejaeja is offline  
Mar 4th, 2014, 11:37 AM
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In addition to airbnb requiring full payment plus their fee to comfirm a booking, you have to pay careful attention to the cancellation policy of each host and also the exact location of the property. Know that some listings exaggerate the distance and convenience of the location to major sites and attractions - and these are all cities with which you are unfamiliar. A serious disadvantage of apartments versus hotels is check-in and check-out times and baggage storage (or lack thereof). When arriving early in the morning, you can always drop your bags at the hotel, but you may have hours and hours to spare ahead of being able to get into an apartment. Checking out, you can always store your bags at a hotel, but usually not when staying in an apartment.

And, before you consider accommodations, you'll want to price transportation...which may consume almost half your budget. It's already a bit late to book Eurostar from London to Paris for July. Fares vary considerably from one day to the next during that period and also depending on time of departure.

But, that's after considering whether, especially for a first trip to Europe, you really want to visit three major destinations in only 14 days. If you're leaving home on the 8th, you arrive the 9th, and that will be a day to take it easy so as to recover from jet lag as quickly as possible, especially after the very long journey from the west coast. The better part of a day will be consumed getting from London to Paris, then from Paris to Rome. That leaves you only ten days for the three cities, or about three days each.

Highly recommend checking a few tourism websites to determine if there's far more you really want to see/do in these cities than you could possibly enjoy in only a few days.

You'd also want to check holiday schedules as, for example, you may or may not want to be in Paris July 14th or travel on that day.

And, you may want to consider the order of your destinations. It's a very long trip home from Rome.
djkbooks is offline  
Mar 4th, 2014, 01:56 PM
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"A serious disadvantage of apartments versus hotels is check-in and check-out times and baggage storage (or lack thereof). When arriving early in the morning, you can always drop your bags at the hotel, but you may have hours and hours to spare ahead of being able to get into an apartment. "

Actually, I've found the opposite - with Airbnb apartments the owners aren't part of a company with a set inflexible check in time - they usually accommodate whatever suits you you. My last place, I was allowed to check in at 10:30am, straight off my overnight train.

I'd be really interested to know how many of the people citing disadvantages with these types of rental services have actually used them. Because the amount of incorrect information I'm seeing makes me suspect they are going on heresay rather than direct personal experience.
RM67 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2014, 12:59 AM
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Because of the extra homework required for any apartment rental, including AirBnB, I would recommend staying in hotels when the trip has multiple destinations. Also, I think hotels provide much better support for inexperienced travelers. I am, I would say, a very experienced traveler, but I still find the support of a hotel very useful on a trip.

I do stay in apartments when traveling with a family group of more than three people. Apartments are also very useful when there's a small child or elderly person in the group, for whom eating out twice a day is a bit stressful, and whose bedtime may be very different from the rest of the group. Other than these circumstances, I choose to stay in a hotel every time. In a country where I don't speak the language at all, I would be very reluctant to stay in an apartment in any circumstances.

Consider what you would do in an emergency. I read of a situation similar to the following on a TA forum (I don't remember the precise details, but this is more or less the account I read.) A couple visits Rome. One evening he wants to go out to a pub, but she's tired. She tells him to go ahead, but she'll stay in the apartment for the evening. On his way back to the apartment, he (perhaps having had one too many) gets into an argument with someone on the street. (He says they were trying to rob him, they say not.) The police get involved, and all are brought to the police station. He had some injuries, not serious. He can't call his wife, because they have no phone that works locally. After some hours he is released, and returns to the apartment, with his injuries untreated. His wife has been frantic for some time. Now they don't know where they can get treatment for his injuries, as it's still in the wee hours of the morning. They are fed up with Rome and will never go there again.

Aside from the fact that it's never a good idea to get tipsy in a foreign city, and that the police maybe should have attended better to the man's injuries, if this couple had been staying in a hotel, most of the problems wouldn't have occurred. The man could call the hotel from the police station. The hotel would have a first aid kit, and if more had been needed, they could have told the couple where to go for medical attention.

If you stay in an apartment, especially in a city where you don't speak the language, make sure you have a phone that will work locally. Also, make sure that you have a local English-speaking emergency contact.

Finally, apartments don't have the same rigorous fire safety (or other safety) regulations that hotels have. I've stayed in apartments that had safety issues that really worried me. One, in Rome, had a large window overlooking a courtyard. We were on a higher floor, the window had no protective grate, it had a low windowsill, and it was too warm to keep the window closed all the time. We were traveling with a toddler. We couldn't take our eyes off her the entire time we were there. We forbade her to go anywhere near the window, but that, of course, made it more attractive to her.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 5th, 2014, 03:43 AM
Join Date: May 2012
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bvlenci, good points - they could apply equally to Italian B&B's and other accommodation without 24-hour staffing. I remember the TA forum story you mention, and I'm pretty sure they were staying at a B&B. And there was one (positively reviewed) B&B I stayed in for Rome that definitely had fire safety issues.
oedipamaas is offline  
Mar 10th, 2014, 09:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 43
Thanks all for the recommendations! I'll look into all of your suggestions.
whitneyd86 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2015, 05:56 PM
Join Date: Dec 2015
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Hi just curious, did you have the accommodation with hotel or airbnb? I had no problem with airbnb hosts for the rooms (Paris and London) I have booked in Nov 2015. They gave good tips of the places I should go and info on directions. Of course they were not as convenient as hotel but talking to the locals were much fun then staying in hotel. I guess it is important to read the reviews and communicate with the hosts before picking which you might like
I'm sure you had a fabulous trip. Do share your experience if possible so we can learn more
singyingtan is offline  
Dec 12th, 2015, 06:02 PM
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you topped an 18 month old thread when there have been hundreds about airbnb since then?
janisj is online now  
Dec 12th, 2015, 11:48 PM
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Posts: 4,322
I usually book through AirBnB, but have also at times booked directly with property owner, cutting out the middlemen. I only do this with a property with plentiful positive reviews (at least 20-30, most of them recent), listing on a variety of letting portals, with their own private website listing properties. I think if you take basic precautions, the savings you make are substantial enough to make it worthwhile.
Alec is offline  
Dec 13th, 2015, 12:01 AM
Join Date: Oct 2015
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You cannot book through AirBnB if you want to deal directly with the property owner.

Many properties are more expensive than basic, budget-to-moderate hotel rooms in Paris. Many will be listed as "more spacious", but this is not always the case, since even closets, hallways and bathroom space figure into the total measurements.

Many people have no concept of what "basic precautions" to take, but jump at a low price and fall in love with exposed ceiling beams and a view of the Eiffel Tower. Many don't even take the time to investigate the neighborhood until after they've booked, and will come on travel forums to ask about that.
fuzzbucket is offline  
Dec 13th, 2015, 04:14 AM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 9,171

We have stayed at the beehive in their hotel but they do have apartments in Rome. Check out cross pollinate.

Airbnb does take your money up front but the communication was frustrating for the owner of the house and myself. We needed to communicate over an issue in the house and you have to go through their email and they kept blanking out our phone numbers.
flpab is offline  

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