7 Airbnb booking tips for first-time renters

Here’s what you need to know to avoid disappointment—or worse—when renting through the service.

If you follow these tips before renting an Airbnb, your vacation will go that much more smoothly.

1. Stay safe

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In the past, horror stories have generated real safety worries about how safe Airbnb is, despite the fact that many stays are trouble-free. Since its inception, the business has strengthened consumer and host safeguards, as well as sought to make online profiles match real-life identities, on the premise that individuals will behave more responsibly if they are not shrouded in a digital veil of anonymity. An online FAQ regarding “trust and safety” outlines the company’s verification procedure and reviews in further detail.

2. It’s not a hotel

Although this seems simple, some tenants still don’t grasp the apartment-sharing idea and want the same level of welcome and facilities that they would receive in a hotel. (It doesn’t help that Airbnb offers rental properties ranging from apartments to yurts, which adds to the confusion.) Pay close attention to what’s included—and much more so to what isn’t.

3. Be yourself

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Airbnb makes a big fuss about its community, which it claims helps keep transactions honest. Creating a legitimate profile, being verified by adding personal information, and even receiving recommendations from friends who have already used the service may all help you arrange a successful stay.

4. Shop carefully

The site’s numerous filters make it simple to narrow down the type of property you’re looking for, whether it’s a complete house, a berth on a yacht, a place with a fully furnished kitchen, an apartment near a specific event venue, or anything! Filters can assist reduce 40,000 listings to a handful, and from there, a careful examination of apartment photographs can provide detail that textual descriptions may miss: Is the space light and airy? Is the advertised balcony large enough to enjoy? What size is the shower? A careful examination might help filter out disappointment in the early stages.

5. Ask questions

The built-in chat system on Airbnb makes it simple to ask hosts anything ranging from where the next metro station is to whether or not the kitchen maker in the apartment includes coffee. (You might be surprised by the answer!) Once you’ve narrowed down your search, these no-obligation questions might help you choose between similar houses.

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6. Know the rules

When it comes to booking, it’s not as straightforward as a simple click-to-book process like you’d find at, say, a hotel. To begin a booking, potential guests choose dates, agree to the house rules for a certain property, and then make a request to possible hosts using Airbnb’s messaging service. If a host agrees to your request, Airbnb handles the payment in exchange for a tiny cut of the pie, to prevent money-laundering schemes. (For a more hotel-like experience, a few places do offer immediate booking.) Those that do prominently display the fact.) Finally, cancellation policies differ per property, so if your vacation plans are still in flux, make a note of the particular restrictions at your rental.

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7. Show up with an open mind

Expert Airbnb-ers argue that most hosts are used to entertaining tired tourists and realize that guests want to explore the city, not hang out with strangers they met on the internet. However, hosts agree that a little conviviality goes a long way, whether it’s a drink or simply a talk. One of the most appealing aspects of the Airbnb experience is the local connection. Of course, after that free night.