The Warts And All Airbnb Review

The pros and cons: Airbnb review

Today, I have another guest post for you from Marie Neives, a student and blogger who enjoys travelling, poetry and surfing the web. You can read more about her on her previous guest post or follow her on Facebook and Twitter. She is doing a warts and all review of Airbnb for us today, so if you have yet to use Airbnb, and are unsure what to think, this post is for you.

review of Airbb
Source: Pixabay

Since its launch in 2008, Airbnb allows people to rent lodgings for short periods. However, the company does not own any of the offered lodgings. It’s basically a middleman that charges a percentage of service fees. Did you know it has over 3,000,000 listed lodgings in 191 countries? It’s a popular alternative to hotels, but the question arises – is it better? Just like any other service, Airbnb has pros and cons.

Pros of Airbnb


If it’s a matter of finances, Airbnb accommodations are statistically cheaper than hotels. In fact, the average savings are pretty drastic – roughly speaking, they clock around a whopping fifty percent! However, you should know that this is not a universal rule – you can find an expensive private apartment that’s costlier than any hotel in the city or the surrounding area.

This depends on the city and your preferences, but in most cases, you can find an affordable apartment that’s more comfortable and beautiful than any hotel room. In fact, Airbnb is giving most hotels a run for their money to such an extent that some hotels choose to list their rooms on Airbnb to attract more guests.

Airbnb views
Source: Open Grid Scheduler

Anne: I can personally attest to this. I have just booked 3 Airbnb in South Africa for our tenth wedding anniversary next year. We have found some stunning properties and have paid just £1,539 for two weeks accommodation for four people. Each property is super swanky and has saved us a fortune on hotels, not to mention they are in fabulous locations.

Unique experiences

Airbnb offers a unique experience. Some of the apartments are true treasures. If you could live in an intricately set vintage apartment that harkens back to the roaring twenties, why would you choose to stay in a hotel? Not only that but, in a way, you will be living like locals do – in a building with other community members.

On the other hand, hotels are trying to attract customers by offering unique experiences and immersive surroundings. The rise in popularity of boutique hotels has occurred because of the same frame of mind among the tourists that launched Airbnb to such status.

Typical Airbnb
Source: Breather

Anne: This is one of my favourite things about Airbnb. I love that you can be immersed in less touristy areas and interact with your neighbours.


Misleading pictures

It’s the oldest story in the book – what you bought does not match the description. Even though it happens rarely with Airbnb, sometimes the pictures paint a different story to reality. Lodgings can often be much stuffier, less hygienic, and more run down than what the description shows.

Thankfully, information transparency on the Internet has become the name of the game and Airbnb property management in Sydney offers details of each lodging. The substantial details, that are preferably both textual and visual, are the hallmark of a good business plan when it comes to these sorts of services.

As mentioned before, it happens rarely – most hosts go well out of their way to spruce up their property and present it in the best possible light as bad reviews can come back at owners with a vengeance. If you think you have a justified complaint you can check out Airbnb’s Guest Refund Policy.

Airbnb cons
Source: Erol Ahmed

Host quality

Since Airbnb hosts are not professionals (with a few exceptions here and there), your experience can be hit-and-miss as far as communication goes. The upside of this is – you can pretty much tell what kind of person you are dealing with before the deal has been struck. This might end up being a chance to meet extremely likeable and exciting people, and maybe even make friends for life.

Airbnb buildings
Source: Open Grid Scheduler

Anne: This is definitely true. We found our hostess in Albania a little hit and miss but the hosts we have dealt with for South Africa have gone above and beyond.

Marie: Unpredictability is the key feature here. If you generally like surprises and out-of-the-box sort of traveling, Airbnb is perfect for you. Some experiences might end up on the iffy side, but they are very rare since Airbnb has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to unpleasant excesses. Hotels are indeed a safer choice for those who are not ready to jump into the unknown, but what’s traveling without some adventure?

My experience

I have just returned from Albania where we rented an Airbnb and our experience reflects much of what Marie states. Yes, the communication was not fantastic but the apartment had fabulous views over the bay and modern furnishings. It lacked some of the basic supplies, but we paid just £442 for five nights for four people.

Airbnb Albania
The living and dining area in our Albanian Airbnb
Self-drive Albania Airbnb
Saranda bay

Likewise, last year I stayed in two different Airbnb in Macedonia. You can read our views on Ohrid and Skope here.

Personally, I think Airbnb is a great value way to experience some extra luxury in a more traditional setting. You will find some really unique and authentic properties using the site, and unlike traditional holiday booking sites, there is usually no requirement for a minimum stay of a week.

If you are a Airbnb virgin, sign up using this link and you will get a whopping £30 credit towards your first booking. Now that is how you travel the globe 4 less!

Have your say

Maybe you have used Airbnb. What do you think? We’d love to know about your experiences both good and bad.

This post may contain affiliate links which pay me a small commission should you click on them and make a purchase. Creating blog content takes up a lot of time including researching, fact checking, editing and more and for very little reward. It would be great therefore if you could use these links if anything catches your fancy. These small commissions help towards the cost of running the site, and the occasional glass of wine.
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About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips


  1. One of my bug-bears with Airbnb used to be that you would book but then the host would say it wasn’t available – some hosts just weren’t updating their availability. However, now with instant booking it has got easier! Just keep an eye on the extra fees like cleaning, they add up!

    • Yes they definitely do. I’ve just booked three in South Africa and the cleaning fees are $91 on one. That said I reckon we are paying roughly 50% of what we pay in a hotel and are living in a local neighbourhood.

  2. I have both positive and negative experiences with Airbnb. I agreed that you can stay at some really unique places. Some hosts are pretty friendly. However, I also found the pictures can be misleading, especially when it comes to how big a place is.

    • I’ve not had that experience but I’m sure it does happen. Airbnb is one service where I always read the reviews and avoid hosts who receive negative comments

  3. Sandy N Vyjay

    This is a candid review of Air BnB which would be so useful for people looking out to use their services. Personally we have never stayed in an Air BnB Property, though we have looked at a couple of options a few times, but they were not matching our requirements. Hope to check out something on our next trip hopefully.

  4. I’m still wishy-washy on Airbnb in general. We’ve had some good experiences in the past, but also a couple weird ones. Luckily, no horror stories though. But, on the flip side, I now live in a city that actually has to work with Airbnb to monitor the properties. It skyrockets rents for long-term tenants and not every local wants to be next door to potential partiers that change every other day. I do still check it if hotels are too expensive but we make sure we are the perfect guests for the host and for the neighbors!

  5. Wow, this Airbnb listing is so nice! However, I just recently became aware of what Patricia is talking about in the comments and it makes me feel like I should hold back on booking Airbnbs in the future. Although, we have had nothing but positive experiences at them! I would totally feel at home at this place though!

  6. I love Airbnb! I feel like it’s such a better value for your money. I’ve mainly had good experiences but the key thing now is to just look for Super hosts. Those apartments are the best.

  7. Airbnb is such a tricky issue for me particularly in areas where the locals can’t afford to live in their city anymore because renters have turned what used to be longer term rentals into Airbnbs because they can make more money. Having said that, in most cases, I’ve heard good things and the prices have been so much cheaper than hotels, I can see why people jump at them. Plus, having a kitchen helps if you are staying more than a couple of days. I haven’t taken the plunge yet, but my mother-in-law has, and she really did make a friend who she keeps seeing every time she’s in town. Thanks for the perspective!

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