Travel

How to use Airbnb

I am a massive fan of Airbnb.  I initially stumbled upon it when I was trying to find a place to stay in Cinque Terre and all of the hotels were either fully booked or exorbitant prices.  Now, whenever I’m going on holiday, one of the first places I look is Airbnb.  I’m going to be staying in another one when I go to Seville in September.  Here are some things you should know about Airbnb before booking (and a link for £25 off your first stay!):

1. It lets you live like a local. I love being able to wake up in a non-touristy area, and wander around local bakeries for breakfast, getting a smile and a ‘good morning’ in the local language,  instead of elbowing my way through a busy street, or eating warm cheese at the hotel breakfast.

2. It’s usually a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel. Sure, you don’t have room service, or reception, or someone to make your bed every day.  But, if you’re not bothered about any of that (and I always feel bad knowing that I haven’t made my bed up to standards, and someone has redone it for me), then this is a good option.  Sometimes, it can be as cheap, if not cheaper, than a hostel, depending on which city you’re staying in.

3. There are a lot of decently priced options close to tourist attractions. If you’re not bothered about staying in a local area, then you could stay near the ‘main attractions’ of the city.  Personally, I haven’t done this.  I prefer the locally areas, or areas that are near public transport.  Maybe in the future, though!

4. I’m a bit of an introvert, so being able to get the keys from the owner, and then not have to interact with anyone when I enter and leave the apartment is really nice. I’m useless at small talk.

5. You can cook your own food. Most of the Airbnb’s have kitchens so, if you’re not in the mood for eating at a restaurant, or you want to heat up some pizza you’ve bought by the slice, then you have this option.

6. You get the option of having an entire place to yourself, or to rent a room in someone’s house. I’ve only ever booked the entire place (again, crap at small talk), but if you’re a bit more extroverted, it might be nice to speak to the owner regularly.

Copyright airbnb.com

7. You have a lot of options. You can choose how many bedrooms you want, if you want wireless internet (always!), if there’s a hairdryer, towels, etc.

8. It’s great for group travellers. Have you ever tried to book more than 4 people into a hotel?  It can cost a fortune.  Airbnb’s are great as you can book an entire house for your group for a really reasonable price.  I stayed in one recently for my friend’s hen do in Aviemore, and there were 11 of us in a lovely little house – with a hot tub!  And it only cost around £100 altogether per person for the 3 nights we were there.

Copyright airbnb.com

9. If you apply for an apartment that is not an instant book, the owner has the option of rejecting you. This happened to me when I was going to Verona.  I applied for 3 different Airbnb’s and not one accepted (it probably had something to do with the fact that I was only staying for one night).  Eventually, I booked a hotel (it was really lovely, but a bit more expensive than I was looking for).  Luckily, you have the option of choosing apartments that have the ‘instant book’ option.  This cuts out the worry of the owner saying no.

10. Check the reviews. Sometimes, I’ll read a story about someone being scammed on Airbnb, so I always check to make sure the place I’m interested in has reviews, and that they’re decent.  I know that new hosts won’t have many (if any reviews), but you can usually tell who’s genuine and who’s not.

11. This is probably the most important one – ALWAYS conduct your transactions through Airbnb. If a host asks you to do a bank transfer, this is most likely a scam, and you will not be protected through Airbnb, so always, ALWAYS make sure to go through Airbnb.  Also, if a host tries this on you, report them to Airbnb and they will deal with it.

For those of you interested in staying in an Airbnb, if you sign up using this link, you’ll get £25 off of your first stay!  How amazing is that?!

Things to do in Funchal, Madeira

You’ve probably noticed that the title of this post is ‘Things to do in Funchal, Madeira’, as opposed to ’10/15/etc Things to do in Funchal, Madeira’.  This is because, as I mentioned in my last post, I live here now, and so this list will probably be regularly updated as I find more and more things to do.

1. Cathedral

This cathedral is so cute and small and really opulent inside.  Definitely worth a look.

2. CR7 hotel and museum

This is for those of you who like football.  Since Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira, he has his own hotel named after him.  Shake hands with the statue of Ronaldo outside that looks nothing like him – imagination goes a long way!

3. Cable car to Monte

This is a really nice ride above Funchal.  It takes around 15 minutes, so plenty of opportunity to take photos!

4. Tropical Gardens

If there’s one garden that you see in Madeira, make it the tropical gardens.  They’re consistently named as some of the most beautiful gardens in the world and they’re stunning.  My particular favourite (which has nothing to do with plants) is the geode room.  I’ve never seen so many in one place before – or ones that are so big!

5. Toboggan

Imagine a sledge but without the snow.  That’s pretty much what this is – but so much faster.  You go down 2 km in around 5 minutes.  I loved it, it was so much fun! (The one in the picture looks pretty battered – the ones you go down in are much better condition!)

6. Casino

As well as being a casino (obviously), you can have dinner with a show here.  The singers have incredible voices!

7. Presidential Gardens

Only 1 euro and when I visited, there were parrots!  (I don’t know if the parrots are always there or not…)

8. Santa Maria Street

The street of painted doors.  I have spent many a night wandering around the bars here 😉

9. Municipal Gardens

Slap-bang in the middle of town, these gardens are a nice place to go to relax and pretend you’re not in the middle of a city.

10. Santa Catarina Park

My favourite park (after the tropical gardens).  I love just sitting and looking down at the marina, or at the pond, where there are usually lots of swans!

Moving to Madeira

So, I’ve been AWOL for a bit.  But I have the best excuse!  I’ve just started working as a holiday rep with TUI and I now live in Madeira!  I just got here on Monday, but I love it so far.  You guys can expect lots of posts about Madeira in the future, but, to tide you over just now, I’m going to post these lovely photos  🙂

The Palace of Versailles

As promised, here is my post of my visit to the Palace of Versailles.  This was one of the main reasons I visited Paris this time, and I am so glad I got to visit.  It’s so much more impressive (and bigger) than I thought it would be.  The gardens are so big, they have their own bus service, and you can rent golf buggies by the hour!

I am seriously in love with this little mill.  I think I took around three dozen photos of just this one building!  It’s so cute!