After my last post I thought that maybe I could do a review on my airbnb experiences. I’ll just show some photos and share the experience that my SO and I had at three airbnb places that we’ve stayed at. Bottom line, it’s entirely positive! We’ll definitely be using airbnb again and returning to the places we have already used if it is possible in the future. At the end I’ll list some advice and hopefully it will all be helpful!
The first thing I’m going to say is that we only chose ones that were full house stay. I’m a pretty shy and private person so there’s no way I’d just rent someone’s room in their house. Also, we only met one of the owners in person and he was pretty awesome, so that was all cool. The other two we kept in contact on email/airbnb. Oh, and there was only two of us so I can’t talk about accommodations for larger groups (granted all three we stayed in had options for more than two people).
Anyway, our first try at airbnb was in Tokyo, staying in the area, Hamamatsucho. Takyua’s place was waaayy cheaper than a hotel and had bags of room compared. We stayed at the fairly pricey Shinjuku Prince the first time we went to Tokyo and it was le tiny~ so you may think this was also tiny but seriously, not compared to a hotel room.
Basics: 10th floor with lift, business district, 7/11 underneath, separate fancy toilet, TV, portable wifi (which is probably the best thing for Tokyo!), little kitchen and washing machine!
We had a great time here, it was winter so the heater was nice and 7/11 underneath was even better! We got iced coffees for breakfast and money for the day from the ATM. It was a little walk from the JR line but going past restaurants and a small view of the Tokyo Tower every day made it easy. Near the end I messed my knee up though and that made the stairs up to the level 1 lift a little hard but no biggie.
Our next airbnb was a three day stopover in Helsinki. We had been to Helsinki two times before and stayed in great hotels, including one that used to be a prison! But, Pasi‘s apartment was really awesome. Unlike the Tokyo ones, this apartment was actually Pasi’s home. He was away for the weekend that we were there but we did catch him before we left on the last day. It was warm, cosy and in a great area of Helsinki with the metro down the road.
As you can see from my SO, we were pretty jet-lagged from flying Tokyo > Helsinki. It was snowing outside and we were inside cosy and snug. Here’s an upside to airbnb, kitchens and being able to make your own food! We bought some bread and jam down the road and made breakfast each morning. We used up the bread but left the jam for Pasi and other visitors to use.
Our second Tokyo airbnb flat was a darling ground floor one in Harajuku owned by Erica but it seems to have been removed! :( That’s too bad but it happens. I didn’t get any photos inside but it was in a great area. Though the portable wifi was ridiculously slow and there was no TV and no close 7/11. It did have a Starbucks just seconds away and was much more quiet at night than the others. I think every place is going to have its ups and downs.
The view from the front door.
My advice for staying in an airbnb is…
- Double check all the reviews. Do not leave anything unread on the listing, including amenities and so forth. Make sure you understand the extra costs such as cleaning and security.
- Using the wish list function make sure to have at least 2 places you’d definitely like to stay in just in case you’re rejected by one or one gets removed.
- Keep in contact with the owners close to your stay dates but don’t be alarmed if they only email the day before with key information and things. Pretty much every city in the world you’ll find free wifi to use just in case. So don’t panic! I definitely did but it ended up as no big deal.
- Be courteous, more than you would be in a hotel. It’s someone’s home or investment that is not as rigorously controlled. Even if they say you can, I would not smoke. And if anything goes wrong do your best to fix it and let them know in an email ahead of time. I had dyed my hair purple before our trip (would not recommend!) and a white pillow case that I used was stained purple. I tried to clean it but alas it was a lost cause. I let them know in an email and said I would be fine if they took the replacement cost out of the security bond. It all worked out okay and I think being upfront made everything better – I got a good review back from them and it only cost me $6.
- Definitely the most important is research, research, research. Research the area, what is offered, street view to get an idea of where it is. Don’t be afraid to ask the owners lots of questions ahead of time.
Well, hopefully this has been useful at least in the tiniest way? I think it’s a viable option and have had three great experiences where I don’t believe I was, you know, spied on or had stuff stolen. Seriously, they can make $100+ a night. I wouldn’t want to lose an income like that over something like spying. ;)
If you’ve used an airbnb, leave a comment with any advice you think should be added. :)
I’m currently looking at new ones for our next trip. We’re going back to Tokyo but also going to Hong Kong and Seoul for the first time which is pretty exciting!