We all love a bargain, and when it comes to booking our dream holidays overseas, it can be tempting to book cheap accommodations with the likes of Airbnb and other home rental websites that promise to save us a fortune on hotel costs. But are they really as safe and reliable as they would have us believe?
Airbnb claim to have over 2 million listings in over 190 countries worldwide, and so we can be in no doubt that this accommodation database is popular with international travellers, but you only have to Google Airbnb Reviews to find that there are lots of very unhappy customers out there, with Trustpilot reviews rating this particular ‘community’ with just 2.1 out of a possible 10.
Why? Well it seems that everything is not as it seems when it comes to the accommodation listings on these websites, and unless you are familiar with the destination you intend to visit, you could end up in one of the roughest part of town in an apartment that looks nothing like the images on the profile, and as you have to pay upfront, there is pretty much zero chance of getting your money back.
While many of these accommodation websites have ‘guarantees’ in place, it can take weeks or even months for them to consider your complaint, and that doesn’t help if you’ve just arrived in Cape Town to find that your luxury Seaside Apartment is half way up the West Coast almost 100kms outside of the city!
Of course, not all of these rentals are bad, and it is possible to secure good quality accommodations at very competitive prices, but if something looks too good to be true, it usually is, so it is essential that we do plenty of research before paying our deposit.
Airbnb hosts are taking a risk too, as they never quite know who is going to be staying in their house or apartment. Just today, the Daily Mail newspaper reported that hosts are being warned in Sweden’s capital Stockholm, where organised crime groups are renting apartments and luxury homes on Airbnb to use as temporary brothels!
As someone who loves the creature comforts of a hotel, I can’t see myself booking a private holiday apartment anytime soon… what about you?