aNewDomain — No more sketchy hotel rooms.
With more than 450,000 listings in 34,000 cities around the world, Airbnb is my first stop when I’m searching for a great place to stay. The free and highly functional app, Airbnb for Android, makes finding rooms easier than ever.
I’m not alone in relying on Airbnb. Founded in 2008, it has gained traction as a great alternative to the traditional routes of living or visiting abroad. If you haven’t checked it out yet, now’s a great time to download the app and give it a try.
My first Airbnb stay was in a quaint Los Angeles location called a “Cozy Historic Loft in WeHo Neighborhood” and known as “the Shire.” The home set high standards for my future Airbnb stays, and was different from a typical hotel or hostel.
Depending on where you stay, what time of year, and how many people you’re traveling with, the cost of Airbnb can be much cheaper than a hotel. Prices can go as low as $50 per night, or even less in certain locations. The cost can also shoot into the stratosphere. Interested in staying in a Nob Hill mini-mansion in San Francisco? It can be yours for only $1,000 per night.
If budget is on your mind, you can balance price and location to find a great fit. There are often discounts for extended stays, and while traveling with another person or in a group may cost more on the whole, dividing among multiple members usually keeps the cost lower than your typical hotel room. The online listings usually indicate the number of people the host site can comfortably sleep, so you’ll know if it’s the right fit for you.
It’s worth noting that Airbnb has received critiques from regulators and voices in the hospitality industry for contributing to a housing crisis. This is particularly problematic in locations like San Francisco, where an influx of short-term rentals has taken the place of permanent housing units.
Honestly, though, I still love Airbnb. The tech is simple and the service is perfect.
The best part? It’s easy to navigate. Airbnb has managed to figure out what has always been a huge barrier in the travel biz — convenience. Creating a new profile is quick, simple, and painless. You get the option to gain references from friends that will increase your reputation, which makes it more likely for hosts to accept your reservation request. The free Airbnb app is exceedingly similar to its corresponding website, making it easy to reserve a place on short notice. That’s nice.
The landing page on the Airbnb website and mobile app features several promoted cities suggested for weekend visits or lengthier stays. There’s a button on the bottom for filtering. And the Discover button lets you search for other locations and plan your own trips with no hassle.
Once you’ve selected a destination, the app will prompt you to select arrival and departure dates. After your dates have been selected, more filter options are available. You can select price range and number of bedrooms, beds and bathrooms. You can also select such amenities as WiFi, air-conditioning and heating, kitchen appliances, free parking, and handicap access.
As easy as it is to search for a rental vacation home, reserving a home is even easier. Once you decide on a place, just press the “Request to Book” button on the bottom of the screen. That’s where you enter your payment method, though the system won’t charge you until the host confirms your reservation. Following confirmation and payment, you can always view your itinerary and billing receipt from your account.
For busier folks who need an immediate response from a host, there is the “Instant Book” option, which lets you reserve automatically. This is only available for hosts who make their apartment open to Instant Book, but it’s a great feature that ensures faster transactions between both parties.
The Airbnb app is just as good as the website, because of their similarities. Both include reviews from previous guests, brief biography on hosts, and listings of similar homes that might also interest you. Both platforms sync up and guide you toward your best match. The heart located at the top of the listing also allows you to add the home to a wishlist of places you might want to visit in the future.
Featured image: My Airbnb House in Mono Lake by Jimmy Harris via Flickr
All screenshots: Cassandra Chin