Airbnb is a website where members of the public rent their properties out to holiday-goers, providing comfortable and often luxurious accommodation at a fraction of the price. The website was founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, both graduates of Rhode Island School for Design.
According to a recent Sunday Times Magazine article, the website has hosted over 26 million people in 1 million properties worldwide and had a 76% growth last year. Clearly Airbnb has hit a winning formula but not everyone is aware it even exists. Have I used Airbnb? Yes and frankly I think everyone should try it out. Who doesn’t want the luxury of a hotel for hostel prices?
My personal experiences of Airbnb have been brilliant. I visited Bruges in December 2014; myself and 3 other students rented a modern apartment with a lounge, kitchen, two double bedrooms and a bathroom all for £35 a night per person. Complimentary beers from the local De Halve Maan brewery were left in the fridge for us whilst we also had a coffee machine at our disposal, an iPod dock and a large television. Free parking was provided for the car outside the apartment and a gentle stroll into the city centre only took 20 minutes of our day and was very picturesque.
Similarly, last summer, £40 per night was all I had to pay in Bath for a delightful cabin on a farm. For a similar experience in a hotel, I would have paid extortionately more and wept at my bank balance!
— Sarah Borien (@less_physical) April 2, 2015
How does Airbnb work?
After creating an account on the website you can browse thousands of listings from all over the World. If you are a lone traveller you can rent rooms in people’s houses, although I highly recommend renting an entire apartment or house if you are in a larger group; this offers greater privacy and comfort and the price difference is usually minimal.
If you enjoy a bit of quirkiness, Airbnb also has geodesic domes, tree houses and canal boats available. The Guardian recently reported that a converted cable car in the French ski resort of Courchevel had even entered the listings! Once you have found somewhere you like the look of, you can put in your desired dates and request a booking.
— Airbnb UK (@Airbnb_uk) March 27, 2015
Sceptics may compare Airbnb to couchsurfing but this is a mistake
Overzealous comparisons should not be made between Airbnb and couchsurfing, they are different. Couchsurfing is based on the ethos of generous hospitality and making friends. You essentially stay on couches or any free space in stranger’s houses, free of charge. This is potentially a risky affair because you are going to be in close contact with a complete stranger.
Airbnb is the safer option especially if you are staying in a whole apartment or house and know what to look for – always choose properties with lots of good reviews where the host is verified. Generally you only meet the host to exchange keys and to be shown around, allowing for a relaxed holiday.
Airbnb is underused by students and is a fantastic holiday resource which you should consider for your next adventure. Who knows, from all the money you save on accommodation, you may be able to treat yourself to a Lamborghini…but maybe I am getting ahead of myself.
A tasty meal out? That sounds more like it.
What do you think of Airbnb? Have your say in the comments section below.