Staying At Airbnb Properties
For my recent ski trip to BC, it was a solo trip for me. With no other people coming, I suddenly had the flexibility to make some changes to my trip beforehand. I had the opportunity to save some money on both my accommodations and meals.
I had only previously heard a bit about Airbnb but never really considered using that system where private individuals offer rooms and sometimes entire properties to others for rental. Then a few members of my Meetup groups talked me into trying the system out after they raved about their past experiences with Airbnb.
Since many Airbnb properties include the use of a kitchen to cook my own meals, I would be able to save money by not having to go out to restaurants during my trip. Since I was travelling alone, this made even more sense.
So for the food element of my trip, I decided to bring some non-perishables like pasta, canned meats, sachets of hot cereal and granola bars in my luggage. I even brought a bag of apples and oranges that survived the flight to Calgary. When I arrived in Calgary and got my rental car, I simply went to a local grocer to purchase bread, fresh vegetables and other food items I did not bring. With this plan, I figure I could make all my meals to cover breakfasts, lunches and dinners for my entire trip which would result in cost savings.
I booked to stay in four different Airbnb properties since this was a ski trip involving touring three different ski resorts and required staying in different towns. The costs for staying at each place ranged from about $50 per night down to $36 for my final night in Calgary. These figures included the per night cost plus any service fee and cleaning charge each property host charged.
So by cancelling all my previous hotel reservations and switching over to these four Airbnbs, I ended up saving about $200 in accommodations expenses. With the added savings of making my 0wn meals, my actual total savings would obviously be even more.
Airbnb added some additional measures after the initial horror stories where guests trashed properties. Now there is a review system where after each stay, each host as well as each guest is reviewed by each other. So when searching for potential Airbnb properties, I could view past reviews from other guests.
Hosts also have the option to accept my reservation or not based on past reviews of me as a guest as well as my profile. Since I did not have any prior stays and therefore review, hosts used just my profile to determine whether to accept me or not as a guest.
My Review Of My First Airbnb Stays
I’ll do a short summary review of the Airbnb properties I stayed in for this trip to give a good idea of what they are like.
My first stay was in a house in Fernie, BC. The host and I, like the other hosts, had already communicated via the Airbnb message system for address details and approximate check in times. We also communicated on text message as well.
This was a two storey house in a quiet residential neighbourhood and when I arrived, I was greeted by one of the hosts and got the house tour. The second floor had three bedrooms and a bathroom but I would end up getting pretty well that entire floor to myself since the host family stayed in a back section of the house on the main floor. So one of the bedrooms upstairs was mine and the bathroom would end up being my private one for my use only.
Some Airbnb listings offer a private bathroom while some are shared bathrooms with the host. I did not want to use a shared bathroom especially since I will likely be taking extended soaks in the rub after each ski day. So one of the main criteria that I was looking for when reserving Airbnb properties was the inclusion of a private bathroom.
The host supplied a mini fridge stocked with free drinks, yogurts and muffins as well as a coffee machine in my room. So I didn’t even have to make breakfast for two mornings since it was already supplied which was unexpected!
In addition to the private bathroom issue, I also had initial uncomfortable feelings about sharing a kitchen. The only time one would usually get entire kitchens to oneself on Airbnb would be the listings where an entire apartment or house was offered where the host did not live there. These were priced higher and I did not see many of these in the towns I planned to stay at. But I decided to give it a go as all of the properties I stayed in for this trip featured shared kitchens, ie, the main kitchen of the property.
It turned out that the only times I ever used the kitchen was to make my dinners since breakfast and lunch were easily prepared right in my own room. I did not know what it would be like using somebody else’s kitchen especially while they were there. But it turned out that for both nights at this first property, the hosts were not even in the kitchen while I was using it.
In fact, I hardly ever saw the hosts at all. When I got up each morning for skiing, they were still in their bedroom. When I got back from skiing, they were either still at work or again, in their rooms. At nighttime, I was in my room most of the time watching videos on my computer.
For this property, the main floor where the kitchen, living and dining areas were, did look a bit messy as a typical family would leave it. But since I hardly spent any time there, it really did not bother me. The second floor where my bedroom and bathroom were located, were pretty clean and tidy.
I did go down to socialize with the hosts a bit during my final night since I would be departing early the next morning when they would likely be still sleeping. So this first property as my first Airbnb experience worked quite well for me.
The second property I stayed at was a bungalow in a residential area in Cranbrook. The host there greeted me when I arrived and although she was at the property the whole time I was there, it was only a one night stay for me. Again, I had my own private room and bathroom.
Although a much smaller property and everything was on a single floor, I did not have any problems at all. I got enough privacy whenever I wanted it and came out to socialize with the host at other times.
I cooked breakfast and dinner plus made my ski lunch in the kitchen without any issues. Even when the host was there in the kitchen, I actually did not feel uncomfortable using her kitchen as we were chatting the whole time I was preparing my meal. So property #2 worked well for me as well as everything went pretty smooth.
My third place was a nice townhouse in Radium Hot Springs and this was a two night stay. Interestingly enough, the host there invited me to arrive and check in before she even got back from work. She simply gave me directions where to find the house key so I basically checked myself in.
Again, I had a private room with a private bathroom next to it on the main floor. This host was part of a family but they all pretty well stayed upstairs. This particular property was spotless and was the most tidy one out of the three so far.
Although I did not have a mini fridge like in property #1, they did invite me to put my groceries in their shared kitchen fridge much like with property #2. For this place, whenever I used the kitchen, there was nobody else on the main floor at the time.
This stay was interesting as I met their entire family later during my first evening and they told me that they were leaving for a short vacation of their own in the morning. They said a friend of their’s would be coming in later to look after the house at night and I could just leave the key with her when I check out.
So for much of the time, I was the only person at this townhouse. I guess they must have trusted my profile to leave me all alone in their home. Needless to say, this stay worked out really nice for me as well.
I chose to stay in Calgary for my final night of my trip so I could be closer to my day trip to Drumheller to see the dinosaur museum before I caught my flight back home in the afternoon. Again like all other hosts, advance communications with this host was really easy.
His house was again in a nice residential neighbourhood in northwest Calgary not far from the airport. For this property, they created an entire basement suite with a bedroom, bathroom and living room.
Unlike the other properties, this listing did not automatically include the use of the kitchen but I really did not need it since for my final evening, I did go out to dinner before arriving. And when I did arrive and get the orientation of the basement suite with the host, I was pleasantly surprised to see counter with complimentary breakfast materials all set up. Much like the first property, there was a mini fridge full of drinks, yogurts plus a coffee machine stocked with coffees and teas.
So I was treated to yet another unexpected free breakfast along with some food/drink items for my road trip the next morning. I saw the host only upon check in and check out the next morning since I stayed downstairs the entire night enjoying the last videos I had in my computer as well as use the free wifi (which was included in all properties I stayed in).
The entire basement suite was like a really upscale hotel suite – only that you did not get charged extra for the food items in the fridge! And I got all this for $36!!
So the last Airbnb stay also worked out for me and all the financials were already done in advance through my credit card on the Airbnb system. No financial payments had to be done directly with any of the hosts whatsoever.
Would I Use Airbnb Again?
So that’s the question — would I use Airbnb again? The answer is yes but I would perhaps look for certain things in future listings. If I was with a group of fellow travellers, staying at Airbnb might not work since everyone probably wants to go out for dinner rather than cook individually in their own Airbnb places.
Of course, a group can also take advantage of enormous cost savings by booking an entire property which some of my friends have done with their families. But in these cases, everyone would have to share the bathroom and for me personally, this is not something I like to do.
So for future solo trips, Airbnb would definitely be an option but I would check listings to make sure that I would get a private bathroom as not all listings have that. I would also make sure there was a kitchen available and a shared one would be okay.
The other thing I would look for which I learned from this trip, is that hosts with families (kids and babies) will not be quiet stays when they are around. Fortunately for me, I brought earphones which I used each night when watching videos on my computer. Whenever I took the earphones off, I could still hear the kids and babies (until they went to bed). So for future stays, I may elect to book only with hosts who do not have children and this is usually specified in the host profiles.
As yet another benefit in addition to cost savings, sometimes there are listings of very unique and interesting properties including boats and cottages. These are types of stays that you would otherwise not normally get if just staying at hotels.
Overall, I’m glad that I got introduced to Airbnb as this system will definitely be considered for my future trips. If you are not yet a member of Airbnb (need to register to book listings but free to sign up) and would like to do so with a chance to get some discount credits for your first stay, use this discount credits for new members link.