Airbnb Review: What We Have Learned by Staying with Airbnb from New York to Hawaii

During our travels around the world and across the US thus far, one type of accommodation has really stood out from the rest, Airbnb.  And while we are attracted to the concept, what really makes an experience memorable are the hosts and unique locations.

Hawaii 2

We have had several different types of experiences while saying with Airbnb hosts from Brooklyn New York to the Big island of Hawaii. A lot goes into choosing a particular Airbnb host and location, so we wanted to share with you some of the things we have learned and our Airbnb reviews from across the country!

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Location is Key – (St. Louis, Missouri)

St. Louis
Relaxing with our coffee and bagels that our host left in the kitchen for us each morning during our stay with Airbnb in St. Louis

When choosing a host to stay with, one of the first things we consider is location.  If we have a car, then we will look for a location that includes parking, as well as being a reasonable distance to the things we want to do so we don’t have to spend much time in the car, or money on gas.

St. Louis Brew
We could walk to the brewery from our Airbnb if we wanted to while in St. Louis

During a recent stay in St. Louis, we stayed in the perfect location based on everything we wanted to do. We were only a few minutes to downtown, but we were also in a fun neighborhood where we could walk to shops, food, and drink (including the historic beer district across from Anhesuier Busch Brewing Factory).  We enjoyed exploring this neighborhood and experiencing life in urban St. Louis.

Culture – Live like a Local (Nashville, Tennessee)

Nashville room
Our lovely, homey room at our Airbnb in Nashville, Tennessee

One of the main reasons we have loved staying with hosts through Airbnb is that we get to experience the local flair of a city without feeling like a tourist. During a recent stay in Nashville, we arrived not knowing our host, but left feeling like we had a friend in Nashville!  Our host Sarah Lou was just wonderful.  She helped point us to some of the fun things to do in the city of Nashville, as well as some of her favorite hidden spots.

Nashville Music
Enjoying the music scene in Nashville, Tennessee

Overall, Nashville can be pretty touristy.  But with local knowledge and insight from our host, we felt like we had been living there for a long while.  Every Airbnb host is different, and some are more helpful and informative than others.  But for the most part, we have found that they all truly enjoy showing guests around their city.

Local Transportation – (Seattle, Washington)

Seattle
Our Airbnb in a West Seattle neighborhood had a bus stop right out front that took us into downtown!

Depending on how we are traveling (car or not) we may need to base our stay near local transportation. This became important during our recent stay in Seattle It is super expensive to park in downtown Seattle, but our host had a public bus stop right outside the front door!  We were able to hop on the bus and be right in downtown Seattle in a matter of minutes, for only a couple dollars!

Seattle Park

Plus, our Airbnb was located in West Seattle; which is a lot less expensive than staying in downtown Seattle!  So we were able to save more money by staying here and even more money by taking the bus to popular destinations like Gas Works Park!

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Lots of Good & Airbnb Reviews – (Brooklyn, New York)

Brooklyn Room
Our Brooklyn Airbnb wasn’t luxury, but it was comfortable, large, and had a great view of the Manhattan skyline from our bedroom window!

With all that said about location, culture, and transportation; we also rely heavily upon the Airbnb reviews before choosing a host and location.  Often times, the reviews will help us make a final decision if we can’t quite make up our minds.  Our first stay with AirBnB was in Brooklyn over Christmas, and we mainly made the decision because of the awesome reviews of the location and the host!

New York Loft
The funky loft area of our Brooklyn Airbnb stay.1

This was our first stay with Airbnb, so we were concerned about staying somewhere reputable and with a reliable host. That being said, if you ever stay at an Airbnb, please do your part to submit your own honest and helpful Airbnb reviews so that others can get the benefit from your experience before booking their stay.

Awesome Hosts Make all the Difference – (Big Island, Hawaii)

Hawaii
Morning chat with Jeannie, our Airbnb host on the big island of Hawaii

While we have enjoyed all of our Airbnb experiences, there are some that have really stood out…mainly because of the host!  On a recent stay on the Big Island of Hawaii, our host Jeannie brightened up our day and our stay with her friendly aloha spirit. She welcomed us with open arms (literally), as though we were long lost friends; and we loved it!  During our stay with Jeannie, we sat down at the kitchen table numerous times and to talk about life, and our travels with her.  She also gave us a lot of great information about the area and life on this part of the island.

Hawaii Porch

Jeannie not only gave us some great recommendations on where to go, see and do, but we thoroughly enjoyed staying with her!  There was also an older couple that was traveling on holiday and staying with Jeannie as well and we really enjoyed chatting with the two of them each day too!  After talking Jeannie for hours on end about life, business, travel, and happiness, we left feeling as though we were saying goodbye to a dear friend.  But we vowed to visit her again in the future, her place was awesome!!!

Each Airbnb Experience is Different – Embrace It!

Seattle Brew
Thanks for the local beer in the fridge – a gift from Connie, our host in Seattle!

Each of our Airbnb stays have been special to us in their own way.  Whether it was the view of the Manhattan skyline from our  bedroom in the Brooklyn loft, to a fridge full of local bagels and donuts in St. Louis, to the musical insight of Nashville, a personal touch of local brew in our fridge in Seattle, and the welcoming spirit and tropical paradise of Hawaii.  Every destination holds a special appreciation in our hearts and we will always look fondly back at these vacations, in part because of the places we stayed and the people we met!

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Our piece of Hawaiian paradise at this Airbnb

Now as we travel the world and leave the US behind for a little while, we look forward to seeing what amazing Airbnb experiences await.

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10 thoughts on “Airbnb Review: What We Have Learned by Staying with Airbnb from New York to Hawaii”

  1. Even though Airbnb has become a worldwide success and essential for budget travel with a local flair, so many people are still hesitant to try it. They think it is more akin to couch surfing. Your multiple reviews from a variety of fun destinations around the US does so much to explain how it compares with and is in many ways superior to a standard hotel stay.

    The one aspect that I often get asked about is whether Airbnb is only for people that want to rent a room in someone’s house or apartment. While many rentals are just that, equally many are for an entire home or apartment. A few are even exotic or luxury. In some cases the home is a dedicated holiday rental and in other situations, people rent out their place while they are off traveling. I’ve rented both types with great success and even though it is more expensive to gain this level of privacy, it has always been cheaper than a comparable hotel room.

    -Scott, VacationCounts – Take More Vacation Time Off

    1. Thanks so much Scott for the comment!

      Yes, some people do think of Airbnb as just a room rented in a home — sharing with others, similar to a true B&B. But yes, you can rent an entire home or apartment. In fact, we have found some pretty amazing (and spendy) homes for rent. It’s a great avenue to finding all kinds of rental properties, whatever your preference or budget.

      Cheers & happy travels!
      – Liz & Josh

  2. I actually had a bad experience with AirBnB. When hotels were not a good option, I’ve done multiple VRBOs with mostly good results. With no good VRBOs available in Dublin during very specific dates, I tried an AirBnB listing. I HATED having to verify my AirBnB account with my facebook or twitter just to book the room. I do not want those renting to me to know *that* many details about my private life. Oddly AirBnB charged me the full amount then just held the money until I arrived at the rental. I found this to be odd. It ended up that the rental did seem to be more like couch surfing. The whole experience just gave me bad vibe and turned me off from AirBnB. Too many other rental by owner sites out there for me to stick with them.

    1. Rebecca –

      Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your experience. Every traveler is different and has different preferences, so Airbnb may not be for everyone. Also as far as verifying your account with Facebook or Twitter, you shouldn’t be required to do that. We have never done that before.

      It is definitely important to look at the reviews from other travelers who have stayed there before you, and to see if the owner comments as well. Always a good indication of what your experience may be like and how much the owner cares about their guests.

      Talking with the owner in advance is actually a really nice feature with Airbnb. You have a chance to ask the owner questions and chat online before booking — which allows you get to know them and see how helpful and considerate they are. We actually chatted a lot with our Airbnb host in Seattle prior to our visit. We had a lot of questions and a special request because we were traveling with a group. The owner was SO helpful – I felt like we were friends already by the time we arrived.

      Thanks for reading and happy travels!
      – Liz

  3. I have a weird aversion to staying in someone else’s house, so I haven’t been brave enough to branch out to try this, but I do see the value in it. Here in Seattle, we have a couple of friends who are hosts and we would LOVE to stay at their places because of all the additional benefits they offer their guests.

  4. Crystal Millien

    I love Air BnB but I try to be a conscious consumer, as it’s a major component in gentrification that is negatively impacting the culture of cities I love. New Orleans in particular has a very high rate of absent hosts who rent out multiple properties. The relative low cost of housing in that city and its huge number of tourists lend it to a particularly predatory situation. The worst part is, the rising cost of housing because of limited supply for long term renters is driving out the musicians and artists and cooks and bartenders we depend on to have an amazing experience there.
    The moral I guess is to be careful of absentee owners and try to select properties that are being used as the site was intended. San Fransisco and New York have taken steps to ban Air BnB for these reasons.

    1. Great advice! You are correct that gentrification is a major issue in a lot of big cities, like you mention. Airbnb has contributed but certainly isn’t entirely to blame. But we would agree that it is best to be considerate of the situation when searching for accommodations in these special towns. We too would hate to see these towns lose the very character that makes it a great place to visit. Thanks for reading and for sharing!

      Josh

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