Let me give you some context first.
I'm an extreme princess (aka snob) when it comes to accommodation. I'll only stay in a minimum 4 star hotel. 3 stars to me is really pushing it. It's like my version of camping out in the bush. Yes, I did admit to being an accommodation snob. So when it came to choosing 5 different Airbnb places, I did everything in my power to ensure it would meet my princess standards. After approximately 849 hours spent on the website (give or take), I can be fairly confident I know my Airbnb stuff. Follow my tips and you'll absolutely love every Airbnb place you stay in*.
*this cannot be guaranteed.
1. GET YOUR LOCATION RIGHT
Before you even begin the search and overwhelm yourself with the hundreds of places available on the Airbnb stratosphere, get your location right first. And *shock horror* this might not necessarily mean you're staying where all the other tourists are.
Getting your location right depends on what your priorities are. Do you want to be within 5 minute walking distance to all the major tourist attractions? Or do you want to live like the locals and avoid tourists? Whatever your priorities are, Google to your heart's content and check out what other tourists have said on Tripadvisor about particular areas. Their opinions on particular areas should give you a good idea of whether or not you'd like to stay there yourself.
In Venice, we decided to stay away from St Mark's Square (aka where all the tourists hang out) and stay on Giudecca island, opposite. This ended up being one of my major highlights of the trip (pictured below).
2. SEARCH BY ENTIRE PLACE/PRIVATE ROOM/SHARED ROOM
This is pretty self explanatory. Make sure you tick your preference before you click that search button to eliminate everything else.
3. CHOOSE AN EXPERIENCED HOST
...or stay at your own risk. I'd rather not take any risks, so I personally wouldn't choose an Airbnb that has less than 10-12 reviews. I want to choose a host who is experienced and one that I am able to read reviews from other people to see what their experience has been like.
4. READING REVIEWS > LOOKING AT PHOTOS
Sure, looking at photos is important but just like hotels, photos can be deceiving. It's more important that you thoroughly read through the reviews. Due to my princess standards, I pretty much read every review (or at least MOST) from each host I stayed with. People do leave very useful feedback in their reviews (such as how hard the bed was, how bad the water pressure in the shower was (yes this is important to some), how noisy the neighbourhood was, etc etc) so spend some time to read through them.
5. FILTER BY AMENITIES
If you're looking for particular amenities, such as a washing machine, air conditioning, dryer, etc - Make sure you filter your search first to save yourself a whole lot of time.
6. CHECK STAR RATING
Depending on what is important to you, you can check the star rating for each category and judge whether or not that Airbnb place is up to your standards.
7. CHECK THE HOST'S RESPONSE RATE AND RESPONSE TIME
You want to choose a host who is reliable and has great communication so that if there are any issues just before you check in or while you are there, you know you can easily contact your host.
Below are the actual Airbnb places we stayed at in each city:
London, Waterloo - Very convenient location close to train and buses
Paris, Le Marais - Favourite area in Paris and perfect apartment!
Barcelona, L'eixample - 10 stars to this host! Seriously the nicest host ever that goes above and beyond
Venice, Giudecca - Loved staying here! Such a relaxed local feel
Rome, Trastevere - Very noisy area filled with bars and restaurants so light sleepers beware
For more travel tips check out my video here.
Pictured above: the beautiful sunset from Giudecca