Chris and I are no strangers to the sharing economy when it comes to traveling. We’ve utilized HomeAway, VRBO, and FlipKey many times for vacation rentals, but up until our trip to Scotland I had yet to use Airbnb as a resource. We decided to give it a go when our hotel research in Edinburgh returned pricey results. I scoured the Airbnb site to come up with a well-reviewed one-bedroom flat in the perfect location for a very reasonable rate.
Lined with tons of stores and pubs, and situated steps away from both High Street and the train station, Cockburn Street was the perfect place to base ourselves for four days. (Thankfully my brother who lived in Scotland for several years let me know that it’s pronounced “CO-burn” Street and not, well, phonetically.) We could not have picked a better spot.
Our host met us at the flat to give us the keys and go over the usual stuff. Everything looked just as it did in the pictures online and we loved the space. We always enjoy feeling more like a local, and popping in and out of our flat in the city certainly made us feel like we called Edinburgh home. As an added bonus, the pub downstairs carried an extensive beer menu and served a fantastic bangers & mash. What more could we need? (Well, maybe better instructions for the washer/dryer combo, but we figured it out eventually.)
We had such good success with our Airbnb in Edinburgh that we decided to use the site again to find a flat for a long weekend in Toronto. After a bit of research I landed on this new, modern-but-cozy condo on George Street, just steps away from some of the major attractions in the city. We were able to walk to shops, restaurants, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, but the location was quiet enough that we could get some much needed sleep.
At this point we are two for two in the Airbnb luck department, so we’re giving it another try for an upcoming trip next year: Brussels and Amsterdam! We’ll continue to use our favorite sites as well especially for island trips, but I’ll definitely keep Airbnb in my arsenal of travel tools. It seems to be a great resource for finding city rentals in a range of prices.
Do you Airbnb? If so, let me know about your experiences! If you haven’t given the site a try yet, here are a few general tips:
- Be sure to indicate your preferred Room Type in your Airbnb search. For example, check “Entire Home” in your search if you’re not interested in a shared space. You also have the option of a private room (i.e., your own private room for sleeping, but you may share some common areas with the host, like the kitchen or living room) or a shared space (i.e., you do not have a private room for sleeping; crashing on a host’s living room couch, for example).
- Get an idea of the going rate for the surrounding area. If most Entire Home rentals in a city center are going for $300, but you find an entire home with amazing photos and a perfect description in the city center going for $50, it might be too good to be true. Do your research.
- Look for additional information in the reviews. The description of our Edinburgh flat didn’t state that it was located above a pub, but one of the reviews mentioned it and it concerned me a bit, knowing my light sleeper tendencies. The majority of the reviews indicated that the flat was in a quiet location so we took a chance (and it worked out fine), but it was nice to know what to expect.
- Communicate with your host before you book. If you have any questions, they should be willing to respond. Their response time and the thought they put into their answers will probably give you an idea of what kind of host they’ll be for your stay.
And if you want to snag $20 off of your first Airbnb stay, click here! Happy and safe travels!