When we put kids to bed in a shared hotel room we turn off the lights and hope they fall asleep. Then we the parents turn down the brightness of our phones to to pass the time or we fall asleep at 8:00 p.m. with the kids. Sharing a hotel room with kids is always a delight. I’m kidding. Solving the bedtime dilemma is one of the many reasons we rent Airbnb homes and apartments. With an apartment of our own we can put the kids to bed while we enjoy some takeout and a movie after the kids have fallen asleep.
Airbnb is a site that connects people who want to rent out a room, apartment, or home to people traveling. Each place on Airbnb is owned by an individual and not anyone associated with the company of Airbnb. Using Airbnb isn’t always perfect, but when we are staying in a city for more than two nights we like to rent a place of our own.
Here are some Pros and Cons of using Airbnb for family travel. I hope they help you decide if renting a place of your own is the right choice for your next trip.
More space for kids – When we get a hotel room we usually get a room with a double bed and a pull out couch. All five of us have a place to sleep, but we are all still in the same room. With an Airbnb we can rent a 2 bedroom or 3 bedroom place, so we can be in separate rooms.
A kitchen – Some hotels rooms have a small fridge and a microwave, but an Airbnb usually has a full kitchen. It’s nice for us to have a place to make coffee, make the kids some spaghetti, and having a full fridge to store groceries. Cooking at home can save a lot of money as opposed to eating at restaurants.
A couch and a television – We really enjoy having a living room to all pile up on a couch and watch a movie. We often bring our AppleTV so we can access all the movies we have bought through iTunes, rent movies, and access Netflix.
Living like a local – Usually Airbnb places are not in the hub of the city’s tourism. When you have an apartment elsewhere in the city you get to experience how locals live and pretend to be one. In Brooklyn we used the laundry service around the corner from the apartment like the locals. We went to the local playgrounds and our kids played with the neighborhood kids.
Washer and Dryer – We don’t always have a washer and dryer in an Airbnb, but sometimes we do and it’s nice to be able to get laundry done at home at any time of the day.
Price – We’ve found that an Airbnb is basically the same price as a hotel room. We always feel like we are getting a bargain, because we get so much more for our money.
Airbnb assistance – If for whatever reason the place you booked is not accurately described or the Airbnb host cancels at the last minute, then you can call Airbnb and they will help you quickly find a new place. I like knowing that I have a place to call if the host doesn’t
Payment is due at booking – When you book an Airbnb and the owner accepts your request you need to be able to pay the full balance right then. We like paying up front, because it means that our trip is mostly paid for before we leave. So when you find that perfect Airbnb that is open on your travel dates be ready to pay. Most places have a strict cancellation policy, so be sure to read the cancellation policy.
Choice of location can be limited – There is almost always a hotel room located where you want to stay. However, the number of Airbnbs available can be limited. Many of the highest rated places are booked two months in advance. When we searched in Berlin we wanted to stay in the family friendly neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg, but the rentals were all booked up. We settled on a different location that wasn’t as residential, but we liked the apartment a lot.
There is no maid service – When you stay in a place for a while floors get crumbs and the bathroom may need to be wiped down. There is not a maid service coming daily to clean up your place or do your dishes. When you rent an apartment you will have to clean up after yourself. There is sometimes a cleaning fee attached to your invoice, but this is for a cleaning service to come before or after your stay. I like paying the fee, because it ensures our place will be clean when we arrive.
No concierge service – There is no person to help you navigate the city. Occasionally an Airbnb host will have a binder listing local places or a folder of brochures, but there really isn’t much help to help you figure out how to move to about the city or where you should go.
A kitchen may be available, but the equipment stinks. – We often find pots and pans that have the teflon so scraped up we can’t use them to cook. Sometimes a sharp knife and cutting board for chopping vegetables isn’t provided.
Toilet paper and soap are not always provided. – Looking for toilet paper is one of the first things I do when we arrive at an Airbnb. I’m not sure why all hosts don’t provide these basic needs.
The beds are usually uncomfortable. – I would say the majority of my hotel experiences have included a comfortable bed. The opposite is true in my Airbnb experiences. Most of the time we are sleeping on old mattresses or very firm mattresses. It’s a real treat when we find a comfortable bed like our stay in Brooklyn.
You have to communicate when you are arriving. – Sometimes an Airbnb will have their key in a lock box and you can go on in when you arrive. Other times you have to meet with the host and notify them when you are arriving. We’ve never had a problem with check-in except for when we got lost in Berlin and were very late meeting our host who had taken off work for our arrival. In a hotel you can arrive at almost anytime since there is a front desk manned 24/7.
You have to clean up a bit when you leave. – In a hotel you pack your stuff and walk out. In an Airbnb sometimes there are exit instructions like taking out the trash and cleaning the dishes. We do our best to put everything back how we found the apartment, because we know this isn’t a hotel experience. We often get compliments from our hosts on how clean we leave the apartments.
You may have to follow house rules. – Most of the time we have a house rule that we need to remove our shoes when we enter the apartment. We are happy to oblige, but it’s an added task with three small children.
You have to pay more for each person. – The first price you see is based on 1 or 2 people. However, the nightly rate may go up as much as $100 more a night when we add our three kiddos. I think the extra price per person is based on whatever rate the host set in advance.
Airbnb is great for families
All of our experiences with renting an apartment through Airbnb has been great. Of course, there are a few things we don’t like in each place we stay, but we are always grateful to be in an apartment. We do our best to make it our home even if it means we have buy a few things like a French press for coffee. Sometimes we rearrange the furniture to better suit our needs and then put it back in place before we leave.
The best way to ensure you have a great Airbnb experience is to a ton of research on the place you pick. In my next post I’ll talk about how to search AirBnB to find the best place for your family!