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Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in California, Travel | 0 comments

Booking Los Angeles Part II: Airbnb Experience

I just booked my trip to Los Angeles, so I am sharing a bit of my travel-planning process! Read about a little bit about the trip and how I used my Frequent Flyer Miles for the flight in Part I! I am back today talking about the accommodation situation, and my experience booking with Airbnb for the first time!

We would be in Los Angeles for eight nights, which is extremely exciting, but a long time to pay to spend at a hotel. Staying with family may have been an option had we pursued it, but we wanted to see how far we could get on our own, considering this is not only a family trip but also a vacation. I just wanted us to have our own crash pad so that come what may, we will be fine.

I started looking at hotels, and even the most low-end accommodations would run almost $1400 after eight nights. There are more than a few travel options aside from hotels, whether or not you dare to use them is another story! I know a few people who have had great success with CouchSurfing, a website that allows people around the world to offer up their spare bedroom/bed/couch as accommodations. I often find the website confusing, and at times a little shady, I must admit, so I don’t know that I would ever seriously consider Couch Surfing. Again, I know people who have spectacular experiences, but I just don’t think it’s my cup of tea!

I follow the blog Hither and Thither, and they always seem to have success renting apartments out for travel. I had heard of Airbnb before, but I didn’t know too much about it so I decided to do some research and explore my options. The basic premise with Airbnb is people list their apartments/spare bedrooms/open couches and you rent it out. There is a massive variety, you can rent entire million-dollar properties in Malibu for $1,000 a night, or you can pay $30 a night to sleep on someone’s couch. I had no interest in sharing space  in someone’s house, but you can filter results to just see entire apartments for rent. The places are reviewed, sometimes verified by the company, and there are complete portfolios with amenities listed, a map, and photographs. There are also photographs of the owner and a bio. The website is extremely clean and easy to navigate.

I started seeing some properties that I actually thought could maybe work, with one listing in particular I liked. The property is a studio apartment (we would be renting the entire apartment), complete with full bathroom and kitchen. The photos looked chic and clean. The amenities listed included wireless internet , satellite television, air conditioning, and a parking spot. In case you are unfamiliar, it is pretty much impossible to get around Los Angeles without a car, so a parking spot for our rental car was a huge perk. I was really starting to like the look of this property for us to actually rent at the bargain price of only $100 a night or only $665 per week. The reviews for the place (and host) were spectacular, every one -and there are over 80 reviews- had nothing but great things to say about the property, he was rated all 5 stars for everything.

I was still feeling pretty skeptical, but the more research I did, the more into the idea I was. There were barely any other properties that offered all of these amenities, in the heart of Los Angeles, for this price. Another aspect of this host I really liked was that he had other properties listed, which has reviews just as great. This told me that the host wasn’t just renting out his own place for extra cash, this was a real business with multiple properties that he probably took somewhat seriously. All good things!

Airbnb lets you contact the host with questions, which I did about late check in and for clarity about the refund policy. This was what sealed the deal on the apartment for me: The process for payment and refund at Airbnb is very well done. You pay for the property upon booking, but you are paying Airbnb. The money does not get transferred to the host until one day after your scheduled trip, so that you can see the property and verify that it appears as listed. Airbnb has arefund scale “Flexible/Moderate/Strict” about the refund, and the seller sets their preference. For example, our host has a “Moderate” policy, where we will get 100% refund (minus the fees, Airbnb charges a fee, ours was $80) as long as you cancel 5 days prior to the stay. Airbnb still has your money then, so the refund would (hopefully) be nearly seamless. It’s so nice to know that this host does not get our money until we see the place, and we won’t have to worry about some sticky refund situation if things go sour.

I messaged my host my questions, heard back within hours, and booked 48 hours later. I could not be more excited about our stay. I wanted to snap up the place quick, because this apartment was in high demand, almost all other weeks to stay were booked for the entire spring. It will be really nice to have a little kitchen where we can do a bit of cooking to save some money during our stay. Do I wish we could afford to stay at a fancy hotel? Obviously. But I think for the budget-traveler, this is the next-best thing.

 Tips & Things To Know When Booking Airbnb

These are things I learned in the process, and suggestions from friends:
1.) Never Book a host without reviews or pictures
2.) Be aware of the refund policy
3.) Contact the host prior to booking with any inquiries
4.) I must add one friend of mine said, “Don’t be afraid to stay with someone! You end up getting great insider tips and end up feeling like an old friend!” So I wanted to throw that in here, for you adventurous folk!

I will be writing a post about my stay after my trip, so if you’re curious to see how it went make sure you check back in June!! I don’t feel comfortable disclosing the address of where we will be when we go, but I’d be happy to share the property I used after my trip!
Have you used Airbnb? Do you have any tips? Share them below!!

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