Airbnb: Private Room Versus Entire Place
Moving to London was tough. When my partner and I first got here, we needed a solid HQ so we could sort through the many details involved in completely changing our lives.
We booked our first ever Airbnb - a private room. Then, we booked our second, selecting an entire place. Every host is different and so is every Airbnb but, for posterity, this is my experience of both.
The Private Room Experience
It was awkward, at first. We had chosen a beautiful place in Southwark, just south of the river and very well connected. We arrived with uncomfortably large suitcases and cautiously knocked on the door. Our host opened the door with a big smile and welcomed us in. She told us to leave our bags at the door and showed us into the lounge room.
It. Was. Beautiful. True to the listing, it was light, airy and stylishly furnished. It was the house you wished was your own home. Our host invited us to sit on the couch, offered us a drink and chatted with us about our plans in London. She told us about the area, where the tube and bus stops were, where we could find a tasty breakfast and how far we were from Big Ben.
We chatted on that couch for nearly 20 minutes. I suppose I had expected to be welcomed, given a tour of the house and to be shown to my room - much like at a hotel. But an Airbnb host is an actual person and you are a guest in their actual home.
Your mileage with hosts may vary but, as much as you are welcome in their home and they want you to have a great stay, they also want to know who you are. Especially if it’s 2017 and you’re a first time Airbnb-er with no reviews.
After our chat we were given the tour, shown to our room and left to our own devices. The room was as lovely as the rest of the house.
Private Room Pros
A private room in a central location is much more affordable than an entire apartment.
A good host will help you get settled with tips on where to eat, drink and explore in the local area. As locals, they have a wealth of knowledge that TimeOut just cannot match.
On the topic of TimeOut, a good host will have pamphlets and booklets for more ideas on what to do in their city.
A friendly face to make you feel welcome. Particularly if you’re a new resident, it’s nice to feel like you’re not completely alone in an unknown city.
A private room will likely provide you with a bigger space for your buck. When you’re sharing a room in a house with four bedrooms, you’ll find a larger kitchen and living spaces.
Staying in someone else’s home feels homely. It’s a personal space designed by the people who live there.
Private Room Cons
It’s super weird to use a stranger’s bathroom and it’s hard not to feel like you might get in their way. I often found myself waiting until I thought everyone had gone to work before daring to use the shower.
Depending on who you are, it can be hard to feel comfortable moving around in someone else’s home. It wasn’t until the second day that I felt comfortable enough to make myself a cup of tea. That was a long 48 hours.
The Entire Apartment Experience
After three days in a private room, we still had no permanent housing sorted. Needing another roof over our heads, we went to Airbnb. This time we booked an entire apartment.
Booking an entire apartment is always going to be more expensive than a private room but London takes ‘expensive’ to another level. To find something affordable, we looked further out and booked a place in Stepney Green for a week. While certainly not as central, it was still well connected.
Entire Place Pros
This is the real edge Airbnb has in the accommodation market — having an entirely functioning home all to yourself is perfect for a particularly challenging trip (such as immigrating to another country).
Cook for yourself. It cannot be overstated how much this can help your bottom line.
Entire Place Cons
Compared to the hustle and bustle of a hostel, hotels can have a slightly isolating effect and that effect is doubled with an entire Airbnb to yourself. Depending on the kind of person you are, this could also be a pro?