I travel a lot, and in the past two years, I’ve changed my preference on where I like to stay. Ordinarily, I’d look for a hotel room, but now the first site I always check out is Airbnb. I do some research on where I’m going, then pick a neighborhood somewhere central where it feels like I’m living like a local for a few days.
My first experience in Paris in 2016 was so positive I’ve been renting from Airbnb ever since. I still rent hotel rooms from time to time for the amenities like a pool or fitness center, but if the trip is more than a few days, you can be sure I’ll be staying in an Airbnb along the way for the following reasons.
1. Kitchen = Save Money on Meals
I’m all about saving my pennies as much as possible when I travel and little things add up. I like that with an Airbnb apartment, I get a kitchen for mini meal prep. One of my most favorite things to do when I arrive at a destination is to go shopping in the local grocery store. It’s there that I select breakfast or lunch items to enjoy during my stay, and carry with me when I’m out and about exploring the area.
Just last week in Bergen, my traveling companion and I strolled the aisles of the local market, picking out our coffee, produce, bacon, eggs, etc. for our 3 day stay, bagging it up and bringing it back to our apartment to cook together.
2 . More Space
Hotels often feel cramped and impersonal and budget hotel rooms are notoriously small in Europe. Several of the hotels I’ve stayed in while traveling barely have enough room to move around the bed and the teeny tiniest bathrooms you can imagine. For often the same (or less) cost, I get a lot more room to move around in by renting an apartment on Airbnb.
Two weeks ago, I checked out of this awesome Airbnb apartment in Oslo. We had a fully equipped kitchen and adjacent dining room where I could sit and leisurely work while I enjoyed morning coffee. The owners had decorated the apartment with thoughtful touches. The bedrooms and bathrooms were far more spacious than a hotel, and it had an amazing rooftop view of the city. It was sooo much more relaxing!
3. Washer/Dryer Access
Having a washer and dryer in an apartment is the biggest perk ever when renting an Airbnb home or apartment. When I’m able to do laundry midway through the trip, it means I can pack super light, washing clothes halfway through the trip and wearing them again once they’re freshly washed. This means I can get away with carry on luggage since I’m wearing outfits twice!
4. Community Feel & Personal Touches
Another huge perk of a carefully researched Airbnb is the feeling that for just those few days, you get to be a resident of the community. With keys to an apartment, I feel more like a local while I’m staying in town and because of that, the travel experience is greatly enhanced. While in Paris, my travel buddy and I had a great apartment in Le Marais (see below). We spent days exploring the neighborhood and rode bicycles all around to get a feel for the arrondissement. It was so nice to return to the same apartment in the afternoon after a day of sightseeing to recharge before heading back out for a dinner and an evening stroll.
Also, I love to examine what choices the owner has made for the decorative details. Linen, velvet, or cotton drapes? Woven or chenille sofa or sectional? What kind of art is on display? What cute or quirky dishes are in the kitchen cabinets? I always appreciate the personal touches, the thoughtful linens and decorative accents chosen to make the stay more comfortable and enjoyable.
5. Insider Tips from Locals
One thing I like to do is inquire from the host about where to dine, what to see, streets to explore, and little tucked away places you’d never find in tourist guides. Most often, the owner has taken the time to put together a guidebook for you which is a thoughtful touch and often leads to some of the best discoveries, again enhancing the trip more than just surfing for places to dine on my smartphone.
I like how you can read honest reviews on the Airbnb site about the house or apartment, and the app is great for having on your phone so you can communicate with the host/owner when necessary.
Other articles you may enjoy:
Countries where Airbnb is more economical than a hotel.
If you sign up with my Airbnb link, you get $40 off your first trip you book!
Have you tried Airbnb yet? What’s your experience?