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To fully immersed in a foreign culture, you want to eat like locals, shop like locals, and play like locals. But what about accommodation? Now with the option of Airbnb, visitors can live like locals. During our visit in Japan, we lived in an apartment booked from Airbnb, an online service where home owners rent their property for guests.
Several friends asked about our Airbnb experience, so in this post, I am sharing some pros and cons based on our first-hand experience.*
— Competitive price
Hotels in Tokyo are costly, even for small rooms. To accommodate a big group like ours (8 people) for a week, it would cost us a fortune. If you add location requirements, such as easy access to public transportation and main attractions, the price is even higher.
For one Airbnb apartment with four bedrooms, we can afford a week-long vacation for a price of about three nights at a hotel. Besides, it was located only two stations away from the downtown Shinjuku, with several convenience stores, drug stores, and restaurants within walking distance.
— Easy booking with many choices
Booking through Airbnb is very straightforward. You can download their App or go to their website to book a room. Once you create an account, you can select the destination city, which will result in a long list of choices. You then narrow it down by adding your planned dates to stay, number of guests, location needs, price range, etc.
Based on our itinerary, we need an apartment close to the Metro system for our daily commute, so we focused our search within a close distance of the Shinjuku station, one of the largest metro connection stations in Tokyo.
— Excellent choice for family travel
While Airbnb can be a good choice whether you are traveling alone or with family, it adds more fun if you are traveling in a group.
The apartment we rented has four bedrooms with six beds and two bathrooms, fitting up to 12 people. For eight of us, it was roomy enough. There was a small kitchen with essential cookware and utensils for us to prepare simple meals. At nights, the kids played Monopoly together while the adults sipped Mancha tea and chatted about our next day’s plan.
— No one clean up the room during your stay
When you check in the room, it has been cleaned. But don’t expect someone to clean your room everyday like in a hotel. We need to keep the rooms clean during our stay. After cooking, we cleaned up the dishes and counter-top like what we do at home.
A main part of house cleaning is sorting and disposing trash. Japan is very strict in trash separation and disposal. Trash has to be divided into three categories (combustible trash, non-combustible trash, recyclable trash) for proper disposal. Each category is collected separately on a designated day. We need to take trash to a specific pickup point on the morning of the scheduled collection day.
— Response lag time for your request
In general, Airbnb hosts respond to renters’ requests in a timely fashion. Our host responded to our message within one hour. But this still can’t compare to the immediate responses you can get from hotels when you call the front desk.
— Facility condition
Facilities may not be in an ideal condition. Since the convenience of location was our top priority, the houses met our requirements were pretty old. Some facilities in our rented apartment were outdated even though they were still functioning.
Additional tips on using Airbnb
Overall, we had a pleasant experience with Airbnb. If you are considering booking a room on Airbnb, here are some additional tips for you:
1. When you book a room/apartment, don’t rely on photos on the Airbnb website to make a judgement. The photos posted there are usually stunning because most of them were taken by professional photographers. Be sure to check reviews and comments about the host and the travel experience.
2. Communicate early with the host before you arrive. Once you’ve booked a room, the host will send you detail information on how to check in and the house rules. Read those documents and clarify with the host if there is anything unclear to you.
3. Before you check out and leave, take pictures of each room. It may help to defend yourself in case there is any dispute on additional charges by the host.
Hope you find the information in this article helpful when you choose Airbnb for your next trip. Right now use this link to sign up, you’ll get $40 off your first home booking of $75 or more and $15 towards an experience of $50 or more.
**Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and for your reference only. Your decision should be based on your own research and consideration.