My wife and I recently spent a week in Hong Kong to renew our visas and visit with some friends.
We knew we wanted to spend some time on Hong Kong Island, but we also didn’t want to go through the hassle of booking a hotel — especially knowing how pricey a nice hotel can be on the island. So we decided to find ourselves an AirBnB.
So what exactly is AirBnB?
It’s basically an online service that connects you with people who are willing to open up their home to travellers. You can rent a private room, shared room, or sometimes even the entire apartment/house. It’s like a couple steps up from Couchsurfing.
If you have an upcoming trip and are considering your lodging options, I thought it would be helpful to relay three things to consider before choosing AirBnB.
1. Compare the pros and cons of your alternatives
My first experience with AirBnB was when my family and I stayed at a two-storey apartment in Beijing last summer. It was their first time coming to Asia and I wanted to give them a good experience. The first thought I had was to stay at a hotel. But because there would be six of us in total, I knew that we would need at least 2 rooms. After doing some research, it became quickly evident that reserving an entire apartment with AirBnB would be be cheaper than staying at a hotel.
The nice thing about AirBnB versus hotels is that the former generally offers a nicer environment for relaxing, especially when traveling as a family. There’s just something truly satisfying about staying in another person’s home. Being able to just “hang out” in our apartment was way more comfortable than doing the same at a hotel. In Beijing, we were able to use the kitchen to make a couple meals for ourselves and use the dining table for playing board games.
2. Be sure to read the reviews for the listing
Reading reviews is an excellent way to get a feel for what your upcoming trip might look like. Not only should you carefully examine the description written by the host, but you should also read what previous guests have said about their stay.
In our most recent experience with AirBnB, I wanted a clean, modern place with convenient access to transportation. I eventually found an apartment in Causeway Bay that met our needs and then immediately started scanning the reviews. Almost every review had something positive to say about the hosts and location, which played a big role in choosing this listing.
3. Communicate with the host about needs/expectations
Once you’ve settled on a listing that looks good, you should contact the host. Not only can you ensure availability for the dates you want to travel, but you can also clarify certain needs or expectations you might have.
For example, on this past trip I was traveling with my 5-month pregnant wife. She’s at the stage where she needs to sleep with lots of pillows, so I asked our potential AirBnB host if extra pillows would be available. Thankfully, our host was extremely accommodating and provided us with three pillows each!
A good host will clearly lay out ground rules on their listing and will communicate with you to ensure that you are aware of what you are actually getting. Prior to our arrival, our Hong Kong host reminded us that our bedroom was private, but that the kitchen, bathroom, and living space were all shared.
How to Save $35 Off Your Next Visit!
If you’ve never tried AirBnB before and would like to give it a shot, just click on my referral link to get $35 USD (or whatever the equivalent is in your local currency) off your first trip (with a minimum value of at least $75 USD).
Have you ever stayed at an AirBnB before? What was your experience like?