View from Airbnb rental in Praiano

Let’s Be Honest About Airbnb

I’m not normally one to rant (publicly) but I’ve read a lot of articles lately about people who swear they will never use Airbnb again and it baffles me. I’ve used Airbnb before without any problems and I’ll use it again real soon in Edinburgh. After listening carefully to what others had to say, I’ve come to the following conclusion. You may want to sit down for this, it’s quite shocking. Are you ready? Repeat after me: there’s nothing wrong with Airbnb, it’s the people who are shit.

Are you still with me? Well good!

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: Airbnb didn’t invent the wheel. They’re not the first site, nor the last to offer short term rental homes. Have you ever heard of Only-Apartments? Probably not, but they’ve been around five years longer than Airbnb and I’ve used them in the past. Then there are local sites for different cities, such as GoBcn for Barcelona with some very lovely apartments. The reason all these site exists it’s because they are often cheaper than hotels and, especially for families, they are a lot more convenient. (Airbnb does offer the possibility to rent a bed in a shared room though, making it a valid choice for solo/backpack travelers)

Airbnb apartment in Rome
Our Airbnb apartment in Rome: clean, cozy, close to the metro station, affordable.

Whenever I read a complaint about the site it’s usually about one of these two: price or bad experience with a host. Let me tell you why I think they’re both a bunch of bullshit.

I’ve read a lot of stories about people who had bad experiences with their host or a host they wanted to stay with. Look, I’m not trying to diminish anyone’s bad experience. We all know that, sadly, there are A LOT of racists, homophobes, ignorant dickheads out in the world. So why is it surprising that some of them can be found hosting on Airbnb? The site doesn’t give them a pop quiz before submitting their house to check how tolerant they are. Should they?

In a perfect world they wouldn’t have to and even though this is far from a perfect world, I don’t think it would be ethical. But being mad at Airbnb because there are racist hosts who have signed up on their site is like being mad at Facebook for that one racist friend you have. Ridiculous, isn’t it? You may say “I can always unfriend that person on Facebook”. Well I say, you can always choose not to stay with such a host. Just check their reviews, read the terms and see if it’s the right fit for you. Also, Airbnb has a 24/7 customer service and the host isn’t paid until 24 hours after you check in, so you can quickly let them know if there’s anything wrong.

Airbnb rental apartment in Praiano, the Amalfi Coast
A cozy welcome from our Airbnb hosts in Praiano, the Amalfi Coast

Secondly, let’s talk about prices. Again Airbnb doesn’t set the prices for each property, it’s the hosts who do. Sure, they have a small tax of their own, but that’s understandable, right? Would you be mad at Booking.com because the Four Seasons costs too much? Of course not, you’d find something else in your budget. There are cheap rentals and rentals where the owners decided they are worth a lot more. My mom always used to say: the stupid isn’t the one who sets the price, but the one who pays. If you pay a lot of money on a turd, I’m sorry but that’s on you.

I know this sounds like a huge ad for Airbnb, but I can assure you, I haven’t seen a single cent from them. I won’t even ask you to sign up on their site using my referral link. It’s truly just sharing my two cents on some wrong opinions that have been passed around lately. Or maybe it’s:

Duty calls
From xckd

Look, I’ve stayed with some god-awful hotels (moldy, tiny, dirty etc) and I know people who have stayed in shitty Airbnb rentals. Ultimately, the choice is yours, you can find a terrible hotel just like you can find a beautiful Airbnb rental. But if we give up on a site entirely after a bad experience, we may run out of places to find accommodation. If I had given up on Booking.com after staying in a dreadful hotel in Istanbul, I wouldn’t have found the lovely hotel I stayed at in Riga. Likewise, I wouldn’t have found the beautiful apartment on the Amalfi Coast if my first Airbnb experience had made me give up on the site.

Have you ever stayed with Airbnb? What was it like?

Packing my Suitcase

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  • I so agree. Can’t see what’s up with all the hate for Airbnb rentals.
    I personally prefer Airbnb over Booking.com because of the connection with hosts. If someone has only one listing up on Airbnb, he/she’d better make it amazingly welcoming, with a truthful description and photos. Because if they don’t, the truth will come out eventually. And that’s what the reviews are there for.. Airbnb hosts generally take better care of their few listings, compared to big hotels and hostels who are often careless, because they get enough guests eitherway.
    I’ve only used Airbnb twice, plan to use only their booking site in the future, since the apartments were great, the hosts were prompt, the price-quality ratio was excellent and their location is generally unbeatable. If the reviews make you doubt all of that, just pick another host!

    • Well said about Airbnb owners taking good care of their property. The host we had in Praiano was amazing, she did everything to make us feel welcome and help us get around.

  • Totally agree! We use airbnb and there’re great hosts, you just need to look for one that fits you if you’re sharing the flat.
    We were also hosts in the past and I didn’t accept all requests, why? Because I only rented a room to people I thought will fit us and we could have a nice (travel ) chat in the evening.

    • I’m curious to hear what it was like for you as hosts. What was it like, any bad experiences?

      • we didn’t have any bad experiences. But I didn’t accept everyone asking to stay. We hosted for the fun, so the requests with only “nice place, is it available?” weren’t accepted. we have once someone coming for a night for the early ferry the next morning and they came really late and left early, not the kind we like so i didn’t take those either 😉 we had a lot of people on bike holidays, even a family of 4. Always nice to chat with them and they are happy with our copious breakfast 🙂 our reviews are 4,5 – 5 stars (the only complain is that we don’t live in the city centre)

  • World Journeys

    having my first airbnb stay later in the year. Cant wait to try it!

    • Hope it will be great. I have to Airbnb bookings for next week 😀

  • Ana P. Wildgust

    Dude, 100 % agree. It’s up to the individual to read up all the reviews, talk to the host and communicate. Unfortunately we can’t change the fact that racism and ignorance still exist, but we can control how we react to it. I’m sure as hell not going to let some ass hole ruin my vacay because his ignorant.

    • True, but sometimes it’s easier to blame someone else instead of finding solutions ourselves 🙂

  • I’ve only used ABB once before, in Florida, and it was a great accommodation and a great deal. I am about to use it again next weekend in Colmar – I totally forgot that I was going and that I didnt have a hotel (first part of my trip is business, so I am used to these things being taken care of), and by last night all the good hotels were either fully booked or exorbitantly priced. The ABB place was a really good deal, full apartment with all the amenities, in the heart of the old town. I do love coming back to the made bed and organized makeup, but I think I can make do for 3 nights 🙂

    • I don’t use airbnb too often simply because most of the time they have a strict cancellation policy and you need to pay right away. More often than not, my plans change, haha.

  • Well said, Vlad!! I don’t understand the hate for AirBnB either.

  • Jo Jacks

    Yes! Thank you for saying this! We have had some great experiences with AIRbnb – and for families it is so much more affordable than paying for 2 or 3 hotel rooms, plus you don’t have to hide in the bathroom to drink wine after the kids go to sleep 🙂 #mondayescapes

    • Whenever I travel with my parents, I always book an apartment, whether it’s with Airbnb or some other site, we save a lot of money this way.

  • I totally agree that AirBnB are not to blame for the racists/homophobes that use the platform, and it is not a perfect world that we live in that these people are allowing to profit from their behavior. However, by saying you can read the reviews and work out if they are racist or not is just not the case. You are only allowed to review a place on AirBnB once you have actually stayed there. This means that if you cancel a booking because of any untoward behavior, or the host cancels the booking for whatever reason they give – you cannot review that host/place. Therefore it stands to reason that these people can continue to act in such a manner as there is no way to provide feedback. AirBnB is 90% great. But the 10% that is not – both with inappropriate behavior/price gouging etc – is something that AirBnB as a platform should take steps to try to negate and be accountable for – especially as a commercial entity who is also profiting from the platform. Most people are on the ‘ethical’ bandwangon now and expecting social responsibility from companies. AirBnB should not be exempt from that.

    • That’s true, but why would you want to stay with a bad host anyway? Just move on, you’re likely to find something better anyway. I think a much better thing to do would be to report the racist hosts to Airbnb, rather than say you’re not going to use the site altogether because of that 10%. There are a lot of people who benefit a great deal out of Airbnb, both hosts and travelers, so boycotting the site doesn’t help anyone.

  • Untold Morsels

    Great post Vlad. We have had only positive experiences with AirBnB and as you say I think people need to take responsibility for their decisions. Read the reviews, check the location and price and make your decision from there. When I was a student backpacking around Europe, I won’t say how long ago.. let’s just say before the internet! you would turn up at the train station and be greeted by 100s of people trying to rent out their room/apartment. This was fun, for a while, but it’s so much more convenient to view the properties and reviews online.

    • Renting an apartment from someone at the train station is still done in some places. I know they still do it here in Romania, though not as much as in the late 90s/early 00s.

  • There We Go

    Really enjoyed reading this. I’ve never used AirBnB but have seen lots of negative reviews so this gave me a new perspective! #MondayEscapes

    • Glad to hear that, hope you’ll have a nice stay with Airbnb if you decide to book. 🙂

  • Kathleen (Kat)

    Absolutely agree with you! Accommodations, be it hotel, AirBnB, hostel or guesthouse, will never be perfect all the time. There were times when the hotels I booked through agoda.com were horrible but that doesn’t deter me from booking through the portal for accommodation. I have tried AirBnB twice, and there were no issues. In fact, i recommend it to people if they are keen to try. #MondayEscapes

    • I’ve booked through Booking.com some terrible places, but it’s still the first site I go to find accommodation. Sadly, it’s not possible for all the hotels/hostels/Airbnb apartments to be perfect all the time.

  • I totally agree – I never used AirBNB before my daughter was born but it’s been fantastic for our travels over the past four years. Having been let down on a last-minute cottage booking this weekend, I went onto AirBNB and found a fantastic alternative with more space in a nicer location and kicked myself as to why I didn’t look there first! Has it always been 100% amazing? Well, no, but I could say that about hotels: I wouldn’t blame the gorgeous Amsterdam apartment for the freak 30C+ temperatures, for example, any more than I blamed the lovely Barcelona hotel when it poured with rain. As you say, do your research, check the details (and blame yourself if you didn’t), read the reviews and it’s fabulous. #theweeklypostcard

    • Do you have a link to that Amsterdam apartment? I’m considering a trip for later this year 😀 By the way, when I have you visited Amsterdam? I went in August and it was rather chilly at times.

  • Vlad, interesting to read your posture on this. An AirBnB, like other accommodation options, have pros and cons. People should be aware of the cons and if they are ok with them, well they should go ahead and use the site. If something goes wrong, you should be prepared to act quickly (after all you knew things like being cancel last minute can happen).

    • I’ve read on Airbnb that if it happens to being cancel last minute, they will often offer to refund you more to book another place.

  • Lyn – A Hole in my Shoe

    Great post Vlad. I must admit we have not yet had an AirBnB stay, but your information here makes me think we will give a go. Like most things in life you can focus on the negative or just get on and enjoy if things are not as you expect.

    • It’s a very convenient way, especially if you stay for a longer period of time in one place. And sometimes you can find some really gorgeous apartments 🙂

  • Well said, Vlad. As a guest, I’ve actually never had a problem with AirBNB. Maybe I’m just lucky, maybe I have reasonable standards (I mean, AirBNB or not, you DO get what you pay for anywhere in this world), or maybe I spend enough time looking into my options, actually use the filters to get amenities that I need, and take time to read the reviews.

    I’m also an AirBNB host, and that’s actually where I get my headaches, although of course I don’t attribute them to AirBNB. I attribute them to guests who don’t quite understand the sharing economy concept. That it’s rude the trash someone’s house, which you were able to stay in at a fraction of the cost of smaller, more cramped hotels in the area. But I’ve had about three guests out of 20 who have been quite unsavory, and I still think that overall, AirBNB really offers both guests and hosts a great service. 🙂

    • Sorry to hear you had bad experiences with guests, what happened? I agree with you, you do get what you pay for, but sometimes with Airbnb you can find places that are way better than the hotels in the region and maybe even cheaper too.

  • I really love Airbnb and I think it’s unfair that it gets blamed for so many things. It’s a shame that we don’t live in a world where everyone can be accepted no matter their gender/age/race/religion/citizenship but the sad fact is we don’t–and it’s not Airbnb’s fault!! We’ve had some not-great Airbnb stays ourselves, but the good ones make up for the awful ones–which can be said about ANY hotel in ANY city!!

    • I’m sorry to hear you had some not-so-great stays, could you tell me what happened?

  • This is so well written Vlad! I couldn’t agree more with everything you wrote. 🙂

    • Thanks, Urska! 🙂

  • John Pilkington

    Great article Vlad – I think you point out quite a few safeguards here that AirBnB have in place to ensure people have a good time. But like you say, some people are just dickheads…

  • Couldn’t agree more with you Vlad. I’ve had nothing but very positive experiences with airbnb. The only thing that annoys me is the website doesn’t update so you set your heart on somewhere and it’s already booked! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

  • I completely agree with you, with every word!
    I still haven’t met someone who complained about Airbnb to me, but I know there are people who had bad experiences. And as you said, it’s not because they had problems with the hosts that they should blame it on the system. That would mean because you had a bad experience with a hotel you won’t be saying in a hotel ever again!
    Great post, well said!

  • Lisa

    I agree that individual hosts do not represent airbnb. Please judge the host, not the company for bad stays. However… it seems that in the last two months airbnb has gone way downhill in customer service. I have used airbnb as a traveler and I’m a host and the problems I’m having are with the company, not a host. It took one of my guests a month to be refunded for a booking. My account was hacked and no one notified me, the account appeared shut down to people trying to book with me and after repeatedly calling only to find the case still hadn’t even been assigned to anyone for handling, I finally got an employee who connected me with someone who could do something. Half of their staff don’t seem to know how to problem solve. If you hang up and call back you have a 50% chance of getting someone who knows what to do. There are no managers to speak to and the department that can solve the problem doesn’t take calls. Is this happening because airbnb is so active in Brazil for the Olympics? Did they take on more than they can handle? In the meantime I’ve not received a payment from airbnb since Aug 3rd and I’m still waiting for the company to resolve the problem. It really takes 3 weeks to verify an account? Airbnb has admitted it’s a problem on their end but I suspect my “problem” is still sitting in line to be assigned to someone who may or may not know how to fix it.

  • I don’t really have much opinion about AirBNB, yes we’ve used it twice. One was a good experience the other one was bad but I don’t really blame AirBNB for that.

    I did read a very public Facebook conversation between an AirBNB user and AirBNB shared by many travel bloggers. Have you seen it? It had something to do with hidden charges AirBNB has. Based on the conversation (which honestly I didn’t read because the whole conversation was too long), it seems like AirBNB had no decent explanation about the charges they have.

    Will I still use AirBNB though? Yes, but frankly I’m not a big fan of staying in someone else’s home. We only use it when it’s a big group traveling but our personal choice is still to stay in family-run hotels. 🙂

  • This is so true Vlad! We’ve stayed in 10 Air BnB’s already on our trip from Florence to Santorini and we have another 8 to go! They’ve been ideal as they’ve given us kitchens, living areas and washing machines, all of which are so important when you’re on the road for this long!

    We always make sure to check for lots of photos, plenty of RECENT reviews and we ask the host questions before we book!

    If you’re sensible its definitely a great way to explore 🙂

  • annabelle

    I have never used the service, but here is my concern: I have come across many reviews that don’t seem real or authentic. I viewed one renting for $1637. CDN per night, ($1,700.00 per night) and the avatars on the reviewers were all students/young people, saying more or less the same thing, about how they enjoyed their visit, no mention at all to how expensive the place is and how it’s worth the money, or anything like that. So my wondering mind says to me: how do they afford that kind of rental if they look like they’re still in college? So I beg the question, how does the review system work? I’m sure there are many and hopefully mostly authentic reviews, but does airbnb accept reviews only from those who they have actually received the $ from for the booking? So that would mean, all of the reviewers booked and paid and stayed in the room/house? It just doesn’t seem authentic and living in the age of fake reviews for obvious reasons, all it takes is one or two of these, and I stop trusting the reviews. Like I said, I’m sure many or most are authentic, and you can sort of tell by how the reviewers worded their reviews, but there are many that seem totally fake.

    • I’m sorry, but your reasoning is ridiculous. Obviously I don’t know the rental you’re referring to, but there could be a ton of factors you haven’t accounted for. Maybe the cost was shared between more people, maybe they traveled with parents/grandparents, maybe they saved up a lot, maybe they were bloggers who received a discounted stay, maybe they were there for work, or maybe, just maybe, they have a job that pays enough to let them afford it. To say that they can’t afford a place because they look young is rather ignorant. The reviews on Airbnb are all by people who have booked a stay in that rental so the risk of getting fake reviews is smaller.

      • annabelle

        With a reply like this, I’d have to say you’re rather ignorant. I would also go so far as to say, you’re a blogger who makes money from companies like Airbnb if you blog about them. So why even believe any you have to say about Airbnb or anything you write about. You’re just another stupid young person who thinks that everyone is going to believe the nonsense and bullshit that comes out of your mouth.
        Furthermore, your reply tells me that I was correct in my assumptions, the reviews are fake and so are you.

        • I guarantee you that I haven’t seen a single cent from Airbnb or other companies. You haven’t even considered what I wrote and dismissed me as being young and stupid and rude (which I wasn’t). You haven’t hit any nerve and this is as calm as I can be. You can believe whatever you want.