What Is It Like To Rent A Room On Airbnb?

Airbnb is pretty much a game changer in the travel world. It’s allowing so many of us to travel more and in a way more suitable to us. We can stay in the type of accommodation we want, at the price we want to pay and with local recommendations from the host. It’s a total winner.

I’ve used Airbnb a few times but it’s always been to rent out the whole property, whether that’s a cool loft in Amsterdam or a charming suburban house in Adelaide. Both times I’ve been impressed with the value for money and the freedom of staying in a house where you can have your own privacy and do what you want. So naturally, when I was struggling to find budget accommodation in New York City last month, I turned to my old pal, AirBnb.

But the thing is, it was still pretty expensive to rent out a whole apartment.

Like, not extortionate or anything, but I had already put the flights to NYC on my credit card so I just wanted to get the cheapest option possible without staying in a total dive. So for part of the trip I stayed at The Local NY hostel in Queens, which was awesome (go read my review), but for the rest of it, we decided to rent a room on Airbnb.

Renting a room rather than the entire house means that the people who own the house are still there. Which I didn’t really know how I would feel about to be honest. But it was a lovely double room in a cool flat, right in the heart of Williamsburg so I figured I should give it a go…

Washington Square Park, New York

Renting A Room On Airbnb

Luckily as soon as we met our hosts at the apartment, I was relieved that they were super nice! I guess that could be awkward if you didn’t get on with them. But at the same time, you’re paying them to stay there so I would assume hosts are always swell, right?

Anyway I liked that they offered us drinks, showed us how everything worked in the house and were generally really helpful at a time when we had just done a massive journey via Canada and couldn’t really think for ourselves. But at the same time, after they’d had a lil chat with us, just left us to it. I liked that a lot. I could barely string a sentence together after all, and just wanted to hit the hay!

Throughout our stay, we learned that a great thing about the owners being present is that they could give us tips. Tips on where to go for great coffee, they could show us how the shower worked and fix problems with the WiFi. Which just made everything really convenient, you know?

Oslo Coffee Brooklyn

But there are some negatives of just renting a room rather than the whole place that I feel I should share…

Firstly, you have to follow their rules.

I know that’s kinda true for ALL Airbnb rentals, but when they’re right there, it’s mandatory. There weren’t loads of rules, or any that were unreasonable, just stuff like taking your shoes off when you come in or leaving the bedroom door ajar when we were out so they know we’re not in and they don’t tiptoe around. It all makes sense. But it also makes you fully aware that you’re a guest in their house.

Again, this is the same for all Airbnbs, you’re always in someone else’s house, but when they’re there, you kinda feel like you’re walking on eggshells. Like, we were more than welcome to use the kitchen and dining areas but we never did. Because it’s weird to just go in and start cooking yourself dinner when the owner’s present, isn’t it?

This may just be me. I’ve been brought up to be polite and respectful in people’s houses and I just couldn’t get on-board with helping myself to things in the fridge, etc.

Times Square, New York

However, when you get home from a night out and the hosts offer you freshly baked cookies hot from the oven, that’s pretty much the best thing ever. I mean really, they were fab.

I guess it’s kinda the same as living with your parents. You love them and all, but sometimes you want to come home late and watch TV and cook a pizza without disturbing them.

I mean, it depends what you’re after. If like me you want a cheap option that lets you have a comfortable double room in a great location, then it’s a fantastic solution. However, I think unless I’m in that situation again, I wouldn’t opt to rent a room, I’d always prefer to rent the whole house.

But that’s just me, I couldn’t relax properly in someone else’s home when they’re in the next room. But it’s good to know that it’s a budget option should the occasion arise again!

What do you think of renting a room on Airbnb? Is it something you would consider?

Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!

View from the Freedom Tower, New York

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