Monday, May 13, 2013

Our place on Airbnb

Have you guys ever heard of Airbnb? I hadn't until Joanna mentioned it on her blog Cup of Jo. Airbnb is a website that makes it easy for anybody to rent a room or even an entire house while away on vacation. Wouldn't it be so much better to stay in a house than in a hotel? You'd have more space than you would in a hotel, you could stay in a non-touristy neighborhood and feel like a local, and it would probably be cheaper than staying in a hotel too. So after Joanna mentioned it, I checked it out for myself. I thought it would be a great idea for the Professor and I to rent out our apartment for the month of August since we intend on being in Miami for most of the summer. So we created an account, posted some pictures of our place (taken by a professional photographer that Airbnb sent by--for free!) and a few days after our listing went up, a lovely French couple and their toddler son found our apartment, got in touch with us and ultimately decided to stay here during their summer trip to Barcelona. Yay!

It's really a win-win for both of us. The French couple get a comfy, childproofed place and don't need to lug around a portable crib, high chair or baby bath tub. They get to see Barcelona from a non-touristy neighborhood that's great for families. And since we listed our place for only 60 USD a night, they get to save a bunch of cash over what they would have payed for a hotel. And the Professor and I get to earn some money by renting out our place instead of leaving it empty all summer.

Of course, there are risks to letting strangers stay in your home. How can you be sure that people won't steal your stuff or trash your place? What if the people you rent your place to are criminals or just crazy? We were a bit worried about these things so we decided to Skype the couple and we sent a few emails back and forth before we confirmed them and they seem like a totally normal and charming family. So we're excited to see how this goes.

We still have some questions though. If we're going to be out of town when they get here, how do we give them the key? Do our guests help themselves to our towels and linens or do we ask them to bring their own? I'm actually pretty curious about how far the respect for personal property goes. I'm totally okay with them using our pots and pans and colanders and immersion blender and everything but what if they eat everything in our pantry? Will they refill the olive oil cruet and the pepper mill before we get back? And what if they break something?

Am I overthinking things a bit? Or are there questions I haven't thought of? Have any of you ever used Airbnb either as a guest or as a host? Do you have any advice for us?


  1. Wow, your home is so lovely. I love how much light there is! I've never heard of Airbnb so I can't give you any advice, sorry :(

  2. Hi Kiana, congratulations on your very lovely home! It's a good idea to rent it out during the Summer, when you yourselves are away, and Airbnb is a site that works really well.

    In answer to your questions:

    You can never be sure that people won't steal or trash your things, so it's a good idea to have good insurance (Airbnb also covers you in case the place is trashed) and store your valuables somewhere safe.

    You never have guarantees about the trustworthiness of your guests, but a good idea is to check out the references they have had from other hosts, and in general, to trust your instincts. On the other hand, just think how the guests have to trust you aren't psychopaths or crazy people - it's basically a tiny leap of faith on both sides.

    When your guests arrive and you are already out of town, just arrange for them to pick up the key from a local cafe (where you are frequent customers and you trust the people who work there) and include a welcome letter with the keys, explaining what's what in your home. Alternatively, have a friend be at your home when they arrive and do the honors for you.

    I provide my guests with towels, sufficient to get them through their stay, but otherwise my linen cupboard is off limits!

    As for your pantry: make sure there isn't all that much in there, so that should they eat everything, you won't be too bothered. And of course you can always establish house rules, which indicate the do's and don'ts of using your home. If anything is broken during your guests' stay, it's only normal that they pay for it. You can consider having them pay a deposit, which will be returned after assessing that all is in the same condition as you left it.

    Most important, is to be very clear with your guests, so misunderstandings, false expectations and disappointments are avoided as much as possible.

    Hope this helps! :)

    xx Lisette

  3. I have rented from Air bnb a few times but have not rented my house out on it. Not that it makes me nervous but the thought of getting it rental worthy at the same time I am trying to prep for our vacation . . . well let's just say that all those shoes I decided not to pack don't always find their way back into the closets :)

    As a tenant, I have always been very respectful of someone else's home but I am sure there are many who are not.

    Some of the things that other homeowners have done which I found helpful are:
    - a little house book that includes important details like:
    - what day garbage is picked up
    - where the shutoffs are for the water
    - location of the breaker box
    - if your house has any quirks (i.e. don't run microwave and a certain outlet at same time or you will trip the breaker)
    - where to find cleaning supplies
    - where do you store the broom and/or the vacuum
    - the more specific you are with these things (or even moving all of that kind of stuff into a single closet) the less people will need to go on the hunt
    - your favorite spots in the area (restaurants, play grounds, bakeries, markets, cafes, etc.)
    - tips on how to catch public transit or call a taxi from your home
    - your address with postal code and the cross streets that you are located on to help if they want to order in or call a cab
    - we have always looked for places that include linens --> when you are travelling via an airplane, a towel is not something a person packs; be prepared for those towels to find their way to the beach as well; also note that a person doesn't always just use one towel and one facecloth - as I have long hair I use a second towel to wrap around my head; it is so disappointing if the homeowner doesn't provide an extra towel or too

    Have a great time in Miami! Your home is lovely - I would rent it in a heartbeat!

  4. Thanks you guys for all the tips and compliments! @ Lisette: I never would have thought of giving the keys to someone at our local cafe, but this is a great idea! I think most of our friends will be out of town as well in the summer, so this might be what we end up doing.
    @Jules: I will definitely provide extra towels in that case (two a person!) and I love the idea of providing my guests with a local "things to see/do" in our neighborhood. Very cute idea!

  5. You have a beautiful home!
    Have fun in Miami this summer!

  6. Love your home -- beautiful light, clean modern look and hard wood floors. I have to ask how you manage all white with a baby!

    I've only had knowledge of home exchanges in which case you swap homes, so I don't have advice for air bnb.

  7. @oilandgarlic HA! We've had some issues with keeping all the beige beige and the walls greyish/bluish/white, but I find that keeping the backdrop light makes the house look less chaotic when brightly colored, plastic toys are strewn all over the floor, the couch, and the dining room table. :)

  8. I love the elephant above the crib - surprised I never saw it! So cute. In retrospect, how do you feel about the arrangement?

  9. This house is simply superb.There a lot of space in each rooms.Its sure that we can have a comfortable stay. You can stuff all your things in a single closet and lock that room without handling that particular room key to the visitors who come for stay.This is my only suggestion for your question.

    Billy Joel,