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.


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.


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?!

Top 5 Things to do in Cinque Terre


Cinque Terre was definitely a highlight of my trip – everywhere was beautiful and everywhere had an amazing view (even the train stations!).  This is my list of the Top 5 things that you must do when visiting Cinque Terre (which you need to go and do now!).  Be prepared – there are virtually no flat areas – it’s all hills and stairs everywhere!

DSC_06355. Eat some gelato

I think I had gelato every day that I was in Cinque Terre and I do not regret it one bit.  Look at the view you can have while eating it!

IMG_09204. Go on a train journey from Riomaggiore to Monterosso

I don’t think I’ve ever been on a train journey with a more beautiful view before.  Definitely worth travelling the entire length by train (it’s only roughly 30 minutes).  I would have gone on one of the hiking trails but, unfortunately, they were all closed when I visited.  At least it gives me an excuse to go back (not that I need one!)

DSC_05623. Church of San Lorenzo in Manarola

This was definitely my favourite church out of the five towns (and Manarola was my favourite town!).  The inside is beautiful (and there’s a really friendly cat that hangs around outside – I saw it every day I was there!)

Vernazza2. Wander and get lost

Definitely the best way to see the towns – although, they’re so small that it’s almost impossible to get lost!  I met a lot of cats – which I’m not complaining about!

IMG_08701. Visit all five towns

This is a given if you’re visiting Cinque Terre.  My all-time favourite town was Manarola – and I was lucky that Manarola was the town I was staying in – followed by Vernazza, Riomaggiore, Monterosso and then Corniglia – which I climbed a bunch of steps to get to and immediately realised when I reached the top that I could have caught a bus.  I counted the steps on my way down and realised that I had climbed 382 steps in 25 degree heat – with barely any water!  I was melting by the time I reached the top – but I don’t regret it!