If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may have realised that there are three things in life that I love; money, business, and technology. So, it comes as no surprise to find out that when Airbnb hit the scene back in 2008 I was amazed.
The concept is simple; Either pay to rent out people’s couches, spare rooms, spare apartments, houses hotels around the world. Or go ahead and rent out your own for cash. Unsurprisingly not everyone is a fan of Airbnb. Recent research found that if Airbnb is already taking a 10% cut from hotel’s takings as locals fight to rent out their rooms and undercut hotels.
Cities, States, and Countries are also against Airbnb. One example of this is in Barcelona where Airbnb have just been fined €30,000 for breaching local tourism laws.
Research also found that Airbnb has also been partly to blame for the increasing rent in Berlin. City officials have had to go as far as creating a new housing law banning regular short-term letting of rooms without permission from the authorities.
Despite all this, I still love the concept from both the person looking for accommodation and the person looking to rent out a part or all of their home. Which is exactly why I decided to write this Airbnb review post.
That’s because either way, the person should win. The person looking for accommodation should find better accommodation, at a cheaper rate. The person looking to rent out some or all of their home is able to make money from a commodity they already own.
That’s not to say I wasn’t sceptical. In fact, for years now I’ve been looking for a way to try out the experience. That was until a recent experience left me heading to the British capital, London on short notice.
My Airbnb Experience
I recently managed to get us on a last minute table booking at MCM Comic Con in London. It’s the largest Comic Convention in Europe and certainly not one to be missed. The event is held at the Excel Arena on the side of the river Thames. This isn’t city centre London, but it’s still London all the same.
Accommodation in and around the area sells out fast when an event is on at the arena. Hotels that still take bookings hike prices to take advantage.
Despite pulling every trick in the book when it came to booking a hotel for this event I was looking at paying over £300 for one person for two nights. It just didn’t make sense, that was more than my table at the event for three days!
So, I decided to take to Airbnb to find someone local to the shows arena with a spare room at perhaps a more reasonable rate. Setting up an account is simple and straight forward, you can even import your details direct from social media accounts such as Facebook & Twitter.
Finding a place to stay is actually easier than using websites such as booking.com. Simply type in the postcode and use the filters on the left-hand side to filter the results. You can filter and sort to include accommodation based on; distance, price, user reviews, accommodation type etc. I decided to look for someone within five miles of the venue, who had a spare room.
Considering I was looking for somewhere to stay in London I was surprised to find that I only had around eight choices. Five of which were out of my budget / the same price as a hotel. This left me with three choices. I ranked them in order of preference and decided to make contact with my first choice.
This Airbnb user had over 250 reviews, the photos looked great and the location was perfect. I explained my situation, the dates I wanted to stay and the reason why. After 24 hours I had no response. The event was now in 72 hours so I decided to move on.
My second choice was a female, she had no reviews but the photo and description of her place seemed perfect. I dropped her a message much the same as my previous, and after five minutes I got a reply. Within 30 minutes I’d arranged to stay in the spare bedroom of her apartment for £93 – a third of any hotel for miles.
Just 72 hours after booking my accommodation, I set off on my journey to London. It took me over four hours to get down there and a further two to get unpacked and set up. After all that I was more than ready to lay down. I hopped on the DLR at the Excel Arena and three stops later I was just a two-minute walk from my spare room.
I used the Airbnb mobile app to contact my host and let her know I was here. My host provided a full tour of the place, gave me the wifi code and left me to my devices. This is exactly what I wanted. Just the right amount of openness. I was tired and didn’t fancy having a chat over coffee with a complete stranger for hours – at least not tonight.
But, if I wanted to hear her life story she’d have been more than happy to tell me it. Perfect!
My two night at my hosts were fantastic. I was out from 7am – 7pm through the day so my evenings pretty much consisted of saying hello, having a shower and going to bed. I believe that if you’re wanting to stay somewhere on the cheap, or get a taste of a different culture or lifestyle, live with the locals, interact with people from different backgrounds then Airbnb provides you with that opportunity.
As for whether I’d use it again, damn right I would! Airbnb provides you with the tools to find an awesome place to stay, and my entire process was quick, easy and simple.
My Airbnb review is certainly, so far, so good… However what about hosting guests within Airbnb?
Making Money With Airbnb
Now, let’s talk about the flip-side. While I haven’t been able to offer up our sofa or spare room on Airbnb there are clearly people who do.
I guess the question comes down to how much are you willing to take for people to come into your home. The answer is going to be different for everyone depending on personal circumstances. I don’t live in a city with particularly much going on, despite being just five miles from Leeds.
Never the less the cheapest place to stay on Airbnb here is £20 a night. Assuming I decided that I could put up with someone coming to stay here one night a week per week for an entire year then that £20 a night suddenly turns into £1,040 for the year.
Even with Airbnb’s 3% service charge to hosts that still brings your yearly total earnings to over £1,000! But, that’s nothing! If you live in Leeds the average Airbnb is £55 a night. Manchester is £67 and London is £78 a night.
In fact, if you lived in London and rented out your spare room at the average price of £78 per night for one night a week for the entire year then you’d clock up a massive £4,056 before fees!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Airbnb review. If you’ve ever used Airbnb either to rent out a spare room or stay in someone’s house? – Let me know your experience in the comments below…