Booking accommodation in Europe can be daunting, especially if you have left it late to book. Better value hotels are booked out, prices rise, hopes of staying at that charming hotel in the perfect location quickly fade, and you start thinking your budget will need a complete overhaul. Well, ok, it’s not all that dramatic, or at least it doesn’t have to be.
Whenever our accommodation options were starting to look grim, our first point of call was always Airbnb, and Airbnb always came through with the goods. So good, that we made sure we would consider Airbnb before we booked anything. I must admit, I had the normal thoughts…
Would it look like the photos?
Would the owner be reliable?
And I thought lot’s of people might have the same questions. So I thought I would let you know how our Airbnb France & Italy experience went…
Airbnb France: Where We Stayed
Our Airbnb France experience was short but sweet. We only stayed in one location, for one night.
We stayed in a one bedroom apartment in Avignon, for one night only. When we planned our itinerary, we didn’t realise we would be there at the time of the Avignon Festival, which is an annual arts festival that attracts the crowds. So hotels were pretty much booked out, and as we only had an overnight stay, we really wanted to stay central so we could make the most of it. Hello Airbnb! I must say, the options were still limited, especially as we only wanted one night, but we managed to find a clean, well located apartment. The apartment was near the famous theatre street, and we were surrounded by small little french theatres. We even took in a French play, only briefly questioning that decision waiting in line when the ticket lady said “But do you speak French?”. The apartment had lots of space and was all we needed for our time in Avignon.
Nights = 1
Cost = $126 AUD
Find on Airbnb: Apartment in Avignon
Airbnb Italy: Where We Stayed
Location, location, location! We were aiming to spend less then $160 per night, but when we came across this apartment, we couldn’t resist. It’s located only steps away from the Duomo, had a great kitchen area, lot’s of space for a couple and the owner had some great finishing touches, like a bottle of wine, and fresh herbs for our use. We didn’t get to meet the owner, but her friend was very helpful.
Nights = 2
Cost = $160 AUD per night
Find on Airbnb: Apartment in Florence
Again our location was so central. The owner was so helpful and had made up folders with her favourite restaurants and things to do. We had some issues with the internet and the owner was quick to respond and we got it sorted. And the apartment was immaculate and very home-like.
Nights = 3
Cost = $126 AUD per night
Find On Airbnb: Apartment in Bologna
In San G (as people often call it, and I will continue to write as it’s much easier!), we stayed in a room in a historical building in the centre of town. The room shared a bathroom with two other rooms, which was probably the only downfall, but we knew upon booking. The building or “Palace” was filled with character and history and the location was perfect. The room itself was fairly basic but nice and clean, and also had a window with views of the town.
Nights = 1
Cost = $85 AUD
Find on Airbnb: Room in San Gimignano
Why Book Accommodation With Airbnb?
- It’s like a home away from home. We were in Europe for 9 weeks, and it made a nice change to stay in an actual home over hotels. Don’t get me wrong, I love staying in hotels, but when you have a longer trip, sometimes you just want to cook, or do your washing in your house, or open your door with a real key, not a card.
- You get the local knowledge. Most of the places we stayed, the owners would either tell us or have a book of recommendations of places they loved. At one place, we got an email during our stay from the owner recommending a lovely rooftop bar to take in the sunset.
- You can get good value for money. As mentioned, it was our go to option when the hotel options were booked out or prices were sky high. Often, Airbnb would have great locations and space for the price. In Florence, we were literally steps away from the Duomo, I don’t believe we would have been able to get that location for the same price in a hotel.
- It’s not as easy as checking into a hotel with 24hr reception. Most owners were flexible and helpful, but it’s not like you can go and drop off your bags if you get there in the morning, if it is occupied. And you do have to pre-organise a time to meet, and on both sides, things can happen, trains can run late, emergencies can come up, so you can’t always count on the pre-arranged time.
- Sometimes there is a required minimum nights stay, so staying one night in an airbnb property is more difficult. This makes sense, as the owners will need to clean or pay a cleaner after your departure, which makes your stay more expensive if it’s only one night.
- The Unknown: Not knowing how reliable the owner will be, however, as long as they have reviews you can get a pretty good idea.
So overall, I’d say that we had some amazing Airbnb experiences and would definitely use Airbnb again. I still love the feeling you get when you stay at a hotel, and all the perks that come with it, but when I want more options, if it’s a destination I’d like to cook in, or if I just want to mix it up with a more home-like place, then Airbnb is where I’ll go.
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