The ABC of Airbnb

Conventional hotels and resorts are making way for cosy and intimate homestays today...

Bird Island, Belize

Fond of travel? And really, who isn’t? Then, here is something for you to mull over: since its inception in 2008, over a million Indians have used Airbnb on their travels, both within the country and in over 160 foreign destinations, from France and Italy to the UK and the US. And all over the world, more than 300 million people have travelled so far using Airbnb.

While traditionally, hotels — either belonging to a large known chain, or more recently, smaller boutique properties — have been the regular traveller’s first choice, apartment rentals such as Airbnb are seeing an increase in popularity. This is true especially among more evolved travellers who are eager to get out of their comfort zone, say hello to other building residents in the elevator, and cook occasional meals inside the apartment kitchen.

Amanpreet Bajaj, country manager, Airbnb India, says, “Nowadays, Indians are increasingly using travel as a medium to break away from their mundane routines and explore newer horizons to discover places, people and cultures. Additionally, the modern Indian traveller has also started to actively seek out more personalised and unique experiences.”

Living like a local

So, why would someone choose to stay in a stranger’s home where everything is unpredictable rather than a faceless hotel that comes with all the familiar trappings while in a new place? The real question is, why not?

Travel now is more about discovering and enjoying offbeat experiences than just checking off a list of sightseeing options and tested activities. And that is where the apartment rental concept comes into play.

Often enough, the owners live in a separate part of the property and are happy, in fact, keen to interact with their guests. This means tips from those who know their town, filling in knowledge gaps, and discovering places that tourists don’t normally frequent. There is the sense of living where locals live, eating where they eat, and shopping where they shop.

In the words of Amanpreet, “The fact that more than a million Indians have travelled using Airbnb is a testimony to the new-age Indian traveller’s willingness to experience the world on his/her own terms. With Airbnb, travellers can get an opportunity to break away from commoditised itineraries and not just go ‘see’ a new place but actually ‘live’ there.”

Spending less & staying more

Unlike hotels where a great location almost certainly means high tariffs, short-term rental apartments allow you to stay close to the centre of town, the main sights or your favourite museums and parks when you travel (or at the very least, the nearest train station). Also, consider all the extra space — sometimes even an entire apartment along with the kitchen — as compared to a hotel room. This works particularly well for large groups of travellers, or even families travelling together, since cooking occasional meals can be an option. And all this, without breaking the bank.

Park City, Utah
Cliff top residence, Phuket

Even for those who believe that vacations are for enjoying free time and not slaving away in front of a stove, the convenience of having a fridge or a kitchenette is unmatched. You can always stock up on fresh produce from farmers’ markets for a midnight snack (or a late night glass of wine) or throw together a hearty breakfast from local specialities before heading out for a hectic day of exploration. Canny travellers also save on other services like laundry, ironing and Wi-Fi connectivity while choosing to stay in a home rather than a hotel. 

What about safety? 

One of the biggest barriers to staying in a stranger’s apartment is the concern about safety — who exactly are these people? And will we be safe in their home? Statistics show that over 53% of guests and 55% of hosts on Airbnb are women, and in general, apartment rentals are as safe as any large hotel or small homestay, especially given the security arrangements that come with residential complexes (guards, intercom phones, numeric access codes and so on). In case of any worries — for instance, an unsafe location or loud neighbours — guests reviews always warn other travellers of what to expect and what to watch out for.

Just remember, on any given night, nearly two million people are staying in other people’s homes around the world on Airbnb. Why not join that community and explore a chance to make friends with your hosts in a distant city and country?

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The ABC of Airbnb

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