‘They’ve found an elegant way to help hosts make more money and for guests to have authentic experiences. It brings those people together in a unique way’ – Logan Green
It’s not often that I’m particularly picky about where I lay my hat on holiday, I spent the majority of my honeymoon in a campervan FFS (and thoroughly enjoyed it I might add) but when I was reviewing our upcoming trip to Oslo, the Youth Hostel I’d booked us into on Booing.com whilst drunk 6 ,months ago suddenly wasn’t sitting all that well with me. And not because it looked like a prison cell with a view, but mainly because once you added street parking for 24 hours and the rental of sheets and towels, it wasn’t actually all that cheap.
I’d really only heard about Airbnb through hearsay and mainly just assumed it was a fancy facilitator for sofa surfing however after a little research, (googling ‘how many airbnb cutsomers have been stabbed in their sleep’ does count as research ok?) and discovering that you can actually boo whole apartments rather than just a room in a house, it became more and more appealing.
Turns out Oslo is full of people ready willing and able to rent out their swanky apartments for the weekend to tourists like us. We only had a week to get something sorted so choices were probably more limited that if you had more to plan. But we eventually found a lovely little one bedroomed place near the Grunerlokker area of Oslo with free parking, that only worked out at about £20 more than what our jail cell, sorry hostel would have cost.
How it works:
Find a property you’re interested in renting and send an enquiry to the host with the dates you’d like to visit. They email you back with a yay or nay, and if yay usually ‘pre approve’ you as a guest so you can go ahead and pay. Once we’d paid I send another email to our host (Ragna) letting her know what time we were arriving and asking a little more about the parking situation. I’ll admit that waiting for a response once you’ve handed over the cash was an agonising one, after all, what’s to stop her from taking the money and running? However get back to me she did and told us everything we needed to know prior to our visit.
Ragna was there to greet us when we arrived and showed us around. She also let us borrow a map, gave us useful tips on the public transport system and gave us advice on what all the cool things to see were seeing as we were only there for less than 24 hours.
Without a doubt the best part of using airbnb is that it’s self catering. Especially in Norway (a country where it’s £13 for a slice of cheescake). After hot footing it almost all the way around Oslo in about 5 hours seeing all there is to see, we were relieved to get back to the aprtment with some of the most expensive frozen pizzas we’ve ever bought and some of our duty free vodka and chilled out for the evening.
I’m sure that airbnb experiences vary from host to host and I’m sure there are some horror stories to be found however our experience was pretty positive. There are few little things that could make the experience even better however.
For example almost all properties have a mandatory cleaning fee which the price you see in your search isn’t the price you pay. Sometimes the cleaning fee is only an extra £10 as was in our case so it doesn’t alter the price drastically but it can be much more so something to be mindful of. It’s also a little bit awkward staying somewhere that is clearly someone’s actual house. Yes we had clean towels and sheets but you’re very conscious that it’s someone’s home and their personal belongings are everywhere.
Obviously it’s a given that the use of plates, cups, glasses etc is fine, and we made sure we cleaned everything we used however it wasn’t clear whether tea and coffee was ok to use the next morning (so we didn’t just to be on the safe side) so it might be worth ironing all the kind of stuff out with your host when you arrive.
We would definitely use Airbnb again however, in fact we’re booked up to stay in a cottage in Falmouth next August for my cousins wedding through the site and I imagine it’s perfect for a couples city break (most hosts don’t allow stage and hen parties), we’d just make sure we got the coffee situation sored out ahead of time, i’m not a happy bunny without my morning coffee.