Booking rooms with on Airbnb has all but replaced the hotel option for some tourists. For anyone wanting a closer-to-local travel experience, Airbnb can be a comfortable and less expensive option, allowing you to stay in a real home in a real neighborhood. But being an Airbnb guest – or host for that matter – comes with its own special rules of etiquette and graciousness. Here's a few tips on minding your manners.
People choose to be Airbnb hosts for different reasons - it's not always all about making money. Some hosts enjoy meeting different people, sharing their homes, and even hanging out with their guests. Usually, there's an indication of their preferences in the description of their place. Choose your rental accordingly, and be aware that having an in-house source of information and support is invaluable. Exchanging pleasantries and casual chat at the beginning and end of the day is usually fun for all, but never feel obligated or awkward about following your own travel agenda independently if that's what you want to do.
Cleaning fees are usually built in to Airbnb fees, but that doesn't mean you should trash the place. Treat an Airbnb rental as you would any private guestroom. Put garbage where it belongs, and don't leave dirty dishes out – it just takes a minute to load the dishwasher or wash a few mugs by hand. On the other hand, don't make the beds or fold towels as it just makes for confusion. Any host or cleaner coming in after you leave should be able to discern at a glance what bedding has been used and what hasn't.
Unless your host went above and beyond to help you out of a weird situation or served as a local driver or guide, they do not require a tip. Save your money for restaurant servers, drivers, and tour guides. But, if you had a particularly warm or brilliant stay, or became especially friendly with your host, leaving behind a bottle of wine, a note or small token of appreciation is always a welcome gesture.
Hosts rely on good reviews to continue booking guests because Airbnb algorithms are closely linked to performance. A good or bad review can have huge consequences. However, you also have an obligation to future guests, to be honest about your stay. Try to be diplomatic. For example, if something goes wrong, but your host is quick to put it right, don't just complain about the mishap. Include the part of the story about a caring and attentive host. Writing reviews can be tricky; whatever you do, don't delay posting yours, and don't be tempted not to review your stay.
Resist the temptation to hide the damage. Just fess up. Many hosts require a damage deposit when booking, to cover the cost of replacing anything major. If it's a case of a broken wineglass or two, be upfront about it and offer to buy new ones, if that's feasible. Some hosts will write off minor damages; others might make a big deal about it. Either way, it will make you feel better to be upfront about what happened.
If you're uncomfortable in any way, don't hesitate to tell your host and set official wheels in motion to relocate via the platform. Whether it's due to a sketchy neighborhood or a weird roommate, personal comfort and safety is the whole point of a vacation rental, so don't feel bad. On the other hand, try to communicate your need for a change in non-aggressive, diplomatic terms. You don't want to insult someone where they live, after all.
There have been some high profile stories in the press lately about Airbnb rentals trashed by out of control parties. As a result, many hosts now stipulate 'no parties' or state that guests are not allowed right in their description of the property. You should definitely abide by these rules while on the platform. But sometimes a friend arrives in town suddenly and you want them to join you for a few days, or you get friendly with some locals and want to invite them over for dinner. Tell your host and abide by whatever they decide. It's their place, not yours – and it's understandable if they prefer to monitor who is on the premises.
Most hosts clear out personal possessions when they list an apartment or room in their home on Airbnb. But sometimes you're a short-term guest in someone's principal home. It's probably expected that you'll use the wine glasses in the cupboard or the piano in the living room, but if you're not sure, ask. Especially if something seems like a personal item. Similarly, hosts generally close off no-go rooms on the assumption that the person renting will want to use as much of the space as possible. If you're only renting a room, the listing should stipulate which of the communal spaces (bathroom, kitchen, etc.) you can freely use.
It's common courtesy to inform your host that you'll be late, even if they use a lockbox and are not necessarily meeting you personally. A quick text will suffice. Similarly, it's polite to let your host know once you've vacated the rental at the end of your stay. This helps the host plan for cleaning and guest turnover and avoids awkward encounters at the front door for everyone.
Sometimes Airbnb rentals are so perfect; you want to extend your stay in them. If it's a great standalone apartment in a popular location, chances are it's already booked, and you might not be able to. If you're sharing your host's space, and the Airbnb calendar shows an upcoming vacancy, broach the subject gently. The host may not want to have people staying all the time, or they may have scheduled maintenance or a family member coming to visit. If they seem at all reluctant let the matter drop, or see if they can suggest an alternative nearby.