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  • Writer's pictureTupur Chakrabarty

Feeling 'at home' in an Airbnb

Do you remember this Airbnb advertisement from 2021 - strangers aren't that strange? When we first saw it, in 2022, our hearts melted. By then we'd stayed in 14 Airbnbs that we'd booked ourselves - two in Australia, and 12 in Europe - and Airbnb had become, hands down, our preferred accommodation option for all our travels. Why? There are probably 51 reasons, but here are our top five!


  • Unlike hotels, which probably need to maintain a certain level of homogeneity because of global industry standards, Airbnbs are full of character. They might still be a modern two-bedroom flat in a busy city, but the paintings on the walls, the books and board games on the shelves, the small artefacts that the hosts may have collected on their travels, the colourful bedsheets and pillow covers, the quirky night lights, and the spice cabinet, all add character to the accommodation and let us take a peek into the life of strangers who aren't that strange at all!

  • Imagine connecting with a friendly local who is willing to help and guide you not only when you're there, but also long before you travel. Yes, that's how most hosts are!

  • Being able to cook at least one meal at 'home' cuts down the cost of food by 30% - sorry, no data to prove that, just gut feeling! The home-cooked/prepared meal doesn't have to be extravagant - we're talking pasta, noodles, rice, roasted protein and vegetables, and salads. And an added advantage is that you get to shop at a local grocery store and taste local produce.

  • Next is home decoration and organisation ideas - not necessarily to replicate but to experience and enjoy! We had our second child, a monstera deliciosa, in 2018, after we saw one in our Airbnb in Budapest!

  • Above all, it's the mutual feeling of trust that allows hosts to open their homes to strangers and guests to feel at home away from home.

How do we find the Airbnb that ticks most of the boxes?

We start with a simple Google search: best places to stay in [city]. Once we have a sense of the provinces/neighbourhoods/suburbs and where the main tourist attractions are, we start our Airbnb search by specifying those. The address of a property is not visible until it's booked, but if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can zoom in on the map to see the names of nearby streets and work out where you might be staying. We also ask the hosts what and how far the nearest train or bus stations are before we decide and book.


Our other criteria? The price, of course. And the cancellation policy. We also try to book with a superhost and choose an Airbnb that has a kitchen and a washing machine.


What do we do when we get there?

Even though we have stayed in a private room once (in Edinburgh, as we were in the city for just one night and Airbnbs were generally quite expensive) and in a granny flat another time (in Bendigo, Australia), for most of our Airbnbs, we've had the entire place to ourselves and these places have ranged from studio apartments to houses. Regardless of the size of the Airbnb, the first thing we do after we check in is set up the place for our stay! This includes (but is not limited to):


  • Washing the plates, bowls, cutlery and cooking utensils that we anticipate we'll need so they're ready for use

  • Laying out the packing cubes with our clothes so we don't have to open the backpacks every time we need to take out a fresh set of clothes

  • Keeping the toiletries in the bathroom and cosmetics (moisturiser, sunscreen and lip balm are our staples + my kohl pencils) on a bedside table or the coffee table so they're easily accessible

  • Making sure there is nothing in the way as we move around the place

  • Making sure there is a place to sit down - to relax and/or eat

How do we take care of the place?

...as if it's our own!


The longest we've stayed in an Airbnb has been eight nights. Even then we made sure we used only what we needed - whether it was space or utensils - so there was less to clean, tidy up, wash and put away.


  • So that's our first tip: use only what you need - that will save you a lot of hassle before check-out.

  • Also make sure you follow the host's instructions as best as you can - water the plants; don't take a 'noisy shower' after 9:00 pm (yes - our host in Vienna had clear instructions about using the shower); open the windows if the range hood is broken; dry the floor after you've used the sauna...

  • Do a quick scan of the Airbnb after checking in. Are there any cracks anywhere? Or marks on the walls? Is anything loose, broken or faulty? Take photos of those and send them to the host - just so they know you're not responsible for those.

  • But, if you are responsible for any damage or avoidable expense, admit it! If you leave the heating on for 24 hours without realising it, as we did in Alphen aan den Rijn, say sorry and offer to share the cost.

  • There is one last thing we would highly recommend, especially if you're travelling internationally: leaving the host a small souvenir from your country along with a 'thank you' note.


And that's a wrap!

NB. The photos are all from the original website listings of our Airbnbs in Budapest, Vienna, Paris, Brussels, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Hobart, Bendigo, Rovaniemi, Helsinki, Tallinn, Stockholm, Hvidovre and Alphen aan den Rijn.

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5 Comments


allanaguiar2010
Apr 14

Fourteen Airbnb's? :O That's a lot. I've stayed in two LOL I mostly stay in hotels when I travel. Perhaps I should give Airbnb another fair shot.

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Tupur Chakrabarty
Tupur Chakrabarty
May 04
Replying to

We've stayed in more, actually 😄 - those were booked by our friends when we travelled together.

We love Airbnbs! You should definitely give them another shot 😄

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Guest
Apr 06

Would love to try out an Airbnb - great tips! What about transport if one doesn’t have a car?

Anita Mathew

6/4/2024

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Tupur Chakrabarty
Tupur Chakrabarty
Apr 08
Replying to

Thanks, Anita 😊 We rely mainly on public transport and occasionally Uber (or the local equivalent - e.g. Bolt in Tallinn) when we travel internationally. They seem to work well. In terms of transportation from and to the airport, the host might offer a ride for a price comparable to Uber/taxi. We haven't travelled in Asia much, but during our visit to Kolkata, we used Uber extensively as the public transport system is way more complicated than in Europe.

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Payel Chakraborty
Payel Chakraborty
Apr 06

While personally I do not want to feel “at home” when am on vacation, but you do have a point(s). Extremely informative and clean piece of writing. Loved it.- Payel

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