I’ve been an Airbnb user the last 8 years now ( Airbnb began in 2008). I have had some wonderful experiences using the service: the Philadelphia Asian couple who made and shared dinner with me, the cool dudes in Culver City, California who I enjoyed playing Xbox video games every night, the San Clemente retired couple who shared pizza and Games of Thrones highlights with me, the young woman in Oakland who let me walk her dogs in exchange for free nights, and countless other wonderful experiences where I got to meet locals and learn aspects of life that I might not have otherwise.
With over six million listings, Airbnb is one of the biggest booking sites out there. In the first quarter of 2019, it booked 91 million room nights. By comparison, Expedia booked 80.8 million.
What is challenging about using Airbnb is the finding the best location within your budget range. For out of work millennials and young international visiting LA for the first time, the lowest price range you can find close to Hollywood or downtown LA would be in the $25-35 a night range. And expect to stay in a more hostel like atmosphere. Most Airbnb Hosts ( particularly the Russians ) tend to cram 6-8 people in a tiny room normally reserved for 4 people.
Experience-wise, I have had my share of fun stays and horror Airbnb hosts and conditions. The few horror Airbnb stories I can share:
- I book a USC Airbnb apartment arriving to a terribly filthy kitchen and even worst a nasty bathroom. It’s so bad that not even cockroaches would live there. I made my host clean up and reported the property to Airbnb.
- I used to stay at a wonderful Thai town Airbnb house last year until it became the house of horrors. Guests complain of overcrowding and constant fights between the regulars and the guests. Imagine packing 16 men & women in a 3-bedroom, 2 bathroom house normally reserved for 4-6 adults. Nightly stays are between $ 20-25 so cheap rates would normally attract the riff-raff or unsavory characters coming from the South and the mid-West.
How to avoid booking a bad host & accommodation :
- I would recommend increase your budget with a minimum of $35-$50 for shared rooms. And $75 for your own private room.
- Be sure to read up on the Airbnb Host reviews profile. Superhost are a good choice and pick them if you are lucky to find a spot.
As a responsible traveller, I have found Airbnb to be the main cause of overtourism. As Nomad Matt explains . ” Airbnb has created a lot of new accommodation for travelers, which in turn contributes to higher tourism numbers.3 On the one hand, that’s good: cheaper accommodation = more tourists = more revenue. But, when unregulated and combined with the issues highlighted above, increased tourism kills the very places we love. It becomes a vicious cycle: more tourists = more money = more properties on Airbnb = fewer local residents.