How much do we use Airbnb when we travel? A lot, as it turns out. Because we are slow traveling, spending a month at a time in every location, we depend on apartment rentals instead of hotels. We love Airbnb because we can shop pick and choose which features we need and read reviews before we commit to a long stay. For your enjoyment, I have listed out all of the Airbnbs we have stayed at. Ever. The list is long and it will probably continue to grow!
We’ve also written another post in which we discuss tips for using Airbnb for slow travel. It’s good stuff that will apply to any city you go to, even if it’s not on the list below. But if you keep reading, we’ll also have a few location specific tips as well. So enjoy.
Before you read on, if you don’t already have an account with Airbnb, sign up with this link to save $40 on your first booking! We’ll also get a bonus that we can use for our future rentals, which helps us a lot. If you’d like to read more about our efforts to monetize this blog so we can keep producing content like this, read our monthly report, Operation Digital Nomad.
Mar 31 – Apr 28, 2018
One Word Review: Livable
Description: I’ve translated the name of this rental from Chinese and shortened it. The full name of the rental was “大理古城独栋别墅看樱花美景观苍山看洱海 独享度假别墅 四室四卫三厅两厨房三阳台” or “Dali ancient city single-family villa to see cherry beauty view Cangshan see Erhai exclusive vacation villa four rooms four guard three hall two kitchen three balcony.” You have to hand it to them, that’s a descriptive title.
What We Liked: This place was really big, which was nice because both sets of in laws came and visited us that month. One of the rooms was a tatami room, which Lisa claimed as hers. The roof had a bench swing and a basket swing, which we used a few times when the weather was just right. The kitchen was big (though long and narrow) with plenty of counter space. Lisa enjoyed the internet tv, which let her watch all the Chinese cartoons she wanted.
It was close enough to the old town that we could walk there in twenty minutes (pushing a stroller), and the street it was on felt very safe – there was an international kindergarten across the street. The master bedroom on the third floor was beautifully decorated, with an amazing view. There were plenty of bathrooms for everyone to use, so even when the house was full, no one had to wait.
There were a few good workspaces for us to set up our computer, and the couches and chairs were comfortable. The beautiful courtyard had a working fountain that we plugged in sometimes, and we ate a lot of our meals outside. Lots of restaurants delivered here, but you have to speak Chinese to order.
What We Didn’t Like: There were a few problems. We didn’t mind that it was a little farther from the attractions (old town, Erhai, etc) than indicated in the description, but more emphasis should be put on how close the house is to a military base. It’s not that we ever got tasseled or anything – in fact, it probably added to our feeling of safety – it’s just that the early morning and late night drills were kind of loud.
There were also a few problems that we find are common in Chinese Airbnbs. For example, though the kitchen was large, it was poorly stocked with dishes, utensils (even chopsticks), etc. Though there were pots and pans, they were a bit old and rusty, and the kitchen knives were dull and flimsy. We didn’t mind them, but the beds were probably too firm for a lot of western travelers.
Also, though someone had clearly done a cursory cleaning of the house, there were places where things were still dirty. The rice cooker had crumbs in it, there was dust and old newspapers (2015 I think) under the bed, and the courtyard, though otherwise beautiful, contained a bunch of junk, including a refrigerator box and a plastic Christmas tree piled up in the corner. Oh, and the goldfish in the fountain all died shortly after our arrival.
Mar 2 – Mar 31, 2018
One Word Review: Comfortable
Description: We stayed in this apartment because we had chosen Dali for its cherry blossoms in March. We got what we came fore. The apartment was very nice as well. It has two bedrooms, so Lisa and her grandmother shared a room with two beds, and she spent a lot of time playing in the sunroom.
What We Liked: There was a lot to like about this place. The beds were comfortable and soft, and they had heating pads under the sheets for when it got cold. There was also a big heated play mat on the floor in the living room, with many toys that were fun for all ages. There was also a high chair. There was a great workspace where we did our blogging and photo editing, and we made use of the kitchen which was small, but good enough.
One of the best features of the place was the neighborhood. It’s located inside the beautiful Shan Shui Jian housing development, home to the Cherry Blossom Valley, where we took some amazing photos. It’s also adjacent to even more cherry blossoms at Dali University up the hill. Shan Shui Jian has two big playgrounds, that are fun for kids of all ages, yet somehow also toddler friendly.
The host was extremely helpful and came to help us whenever we needed assistance. This is unusual for China, where most Airbnbs seem to be operated by agencies that not particularly big on customer service.
What We Didn’t Like: I’m having a hard time coming up with flaws. If I had to pick one, it would be that a few times Lisa was woken up by evening fireworks displays in the neighborhoods, but for a lot of people, a fireworks display on Friday nights isn’t exactly a downside.
Jan 4 to Feb 6, 2018
One Word Review: Sketchy
Description: This is a challenging review to write because… we didn’t actually stay in this listing. While we were still in Vienna, trying and failing to get our Chinese Visa, we got a call from our host. Upon discovering that I was a foreigner (I assume that by “foreigner” they meant “white guy” since Dannie is also an American and they didn’t care) the contacted us through WeChat (see our list of must have Chinese apps). They thought that the apartment we rented was not appropriate for foreigners and they wanted to move us to a nicer location.
We said that as long as it was comfortable, had the same amenities and a good view, that this would be fine. When we arrived in China, they took us to a building in a different residential tower complex from the one we had rented. We didn’t mind this too much, even though it was farther from the ferry to Gulanyu, because the development was very pretty and felt safe, with two small playgrounds. They took us to the top floor of our building and showed us around an apartment that looked absolutely palatial, with pink marble everywhere, soft beds and a beautiful kitchen. We were quite pleased.
Shortly after the host (clearly not actually the host, though he claimed to be her brother), returned to say that there had been a mistake and that someone else had already booked this apartment. He took us down ten floors to another apartment that did have all the amenities that we needed, but which was definitely not as nice as the place upstairs. It was mostly comfortable, though the beds were overly firm, and the windows were so drafty that you could feel wind blowing through the apartment at night.
They also asked us to sign a lease, in addition to having rented it through Airbnb, which is highly unusual! We didn’t want to have to hunt for a new place with all of our luggage plus a toddler, so we begrudgingly signed it. I assume this was because the host was working with some kind of realestate agency. I suspect that the reason we had to move in the first place was that she didn’t have proper permission to use the actual listing for Airbnb, and my obvious foreignness would have been a giveaway in that development.
It wasn’t long before Dannie started getting phone calls from the host, saying that there was a problem with the airbnb payment and she wasn’t getting the amount she was supposed to get. She expected us to call Airbnb and get this sorted out for her. Oh, we called them alright. We talked to Airbnb about how sketchy the whole experience had been, and though they sounded concerned, their reaction fell well short of the free relocation I was hoping for.
What We Liked: Don’t know. We never stayed there and if you rented the same listing we don’t know where you would stay.
What We Didn’t Like: See above.
Feb 12 – Feb 28
One Word Review: Fun
Description: This apartment is listed as “Entire Home,” which is partially true. Truthfully, I don’t know exactly what description I would have given it if I were the host. You rent the first two floors of the house, which contain everything that you need in an apartment, including a full kitchen, a full bathroom, laundry, etc.
The stairs that went to the second floor kept going up, though there was a retractable curtain that separated them from the living space. The third floor was where the host family lived, and though they kept completely to themselves (and even went on a vacation while we were there), they did have to walk through the kitchen and living room when they left for work and school or came home in the evening.
That being said, they were really nice, totally courteous, and we had a great time during our stay here.
What We Liked: As I said, the host family was friendly and helpful, but the apartment was also good. The kitchen had everything we needed, and we stocked the fridge from the street markets nearby. Though the apartment wasn’t directly adjacent to any popular attractions, it was convenient to a metro stop, which we used regularly to tour the city. It was also close to several playgrounds and a riverside park that was great for walking and relaxing.
The bedroom had toys for Lisa to play with, including a rocking
horse dog. There were also a lot little children living on the quiet street. They were eager to play with Lisa, and though we still supervised closely because she was so young, she loved interacting with other kids after all that lonely travel.
What We Didn’t Like: Like I said, the description of the apartment as “entire house” wasn’t entirely accurate, but we didn’t find it to be a big problem. The neighborhood definitely felt safe, but it would have been nice if there had been more sidewalks. If Dannie didn’t speak Chinese I’m not one hundred percent sure we would have been able to do our grocery shopping in the local markets, though there were grocery stores near enough that we could have gotten by.
Nov 28 – Dec 28, 2017
One Word Review: Homey
Description: We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of this rental. We normally try not to rent apartments on Airbnb that haven’t been reviewed yet (see our tips for using Airbnb for slow travel), but we took a risk because we had waited until the last minute to do our booking, and as you can image, a lot of the most affordable rentals for Vienna at Christmastime had been scooped up. The pictures on the listing weren’t much to look at, but the apartment itself was actually very nice.
The “good area of Vienna” referred to in the title is northern corner of the Landstrasse District, to the East of the city center. It is a good area, in that it is safe and quiet, and very close to the water. Many of the most popular attractions are about 30 minutes away on foot, which isn’t bad, except when it’s very cold and windy out, which it was during much of our stay.
What We Liked: The apartment was warm and comfortable, and we were very happy with the value we got for a month in an expensive city during the holiday season. Everything worked well, and though the kitchen and dining room weren’t huge, it was stocked well enough with dishes and cooking tools. The furniture was worn but comfortable.
There were plenty of grocery stores within walking distance, and there was even a small Christmas market by a beautiful cathedral (Google Maps) just a couple blocks from our door. A number of times we walked to the Chinese Consulate because we were trying (and failing) to get our Chinese Visas before we moved on to Asia.
The host provided a crib for Lisa, and she slept very well in the quiet neighborhood.
What We Didn’t Like:
Though the neighborhood was quiet and comfortable, the location was still the biggest flaw for our purposes in Vienna. In the winter, the walk to our favorite attractions was a bit long. We loved ice skating at Wiener Eistraum, and walking through all the Christmas Markets and past all the amazing architecture, but every photoshoot we wanted to do meant dedicating half a day.
The only other bad part of our experience was when a cabinet broke. I opened a glass cabinet door one time and it fell right off the hinges, shattering on the floor near our daughter. No one was hurt, but we did have a mess to clean up. I don’t see why that should happen again for future guests, though.
Oct 28 – Nov 28, 2017
One Word Review: Squeaky
Description: This apartment is right on a restaurant street, a block or two from the city center on the Pest side of the River. It is in an apartment building with an enclosed courtyard and parking lot. There were a couple of small grocery stores nearby, but we did a lot of our shopping at this asian grocery store with lots of vegetarian food, and the Central Market Hall (Google Maps).
There was a little bit of a language barrier with our host and the woman who showed us in, but we got by. We arrived on Halloween (or maybe it was the day before or after) and the street outside was packed with people, many in costumes. At first we thought we might have chosen the wrong neighborhood for a month-long stay, but after that night it wasn’t really noisy at all.
What We Liked: We were warm and cozy in here in November, and with the gate to the courtyard protected by a passcode, we felt very safe, even when it was busy outside. The apartment was plenty big for two people and a baby, and we thought it was well decorated.
The street outside has lots of options for food (though fewer for vegetarians), and walking into the city center for shopping and touring was a breeze. Pest had lots for us to see and do, and we took some great photos very close to our apartment. We often went for stroll in the evenings, just to enjoy the Christmas markets that were already up and running.
What We Didn’t Like:
Getting to the Buda side of the city was a little more challenging. Public transportation is affordable and easily accessible, but one member of our party is afraid of heights, and the escalators for the metro in Budapest are dizzying (the tallest and steepest I’ve ever seen)!
The listing itself had two flaws, which were issues for us, but might not be a big deal for others.
The first flaw was that the kitchen utensils were a little bit lacking. We couldn’t cook everything that we wanted to with what was provided. Also, the dish washer didn’t work well, and the drain tended to get clogged easily.
The second flaw was that everything in the apartment was squeaky. The floor boards, the doors, the bed. Once we put Lisa to bed in the evening, we felt like we had to remain motionless to avoid waking her up.
Sep 28 – Oct 28, 2017
One Word Review: Whimsical
Description: This really was a cool apartment. Dannie and I slept on what can only be described as a “house-bed” (check out the pictures on the listing), and Lisa slept on an extra bed that the host set up for us. The kitchen and entryway were one long hall. The view from the kitchen window was beautiful, especially in the morning.
It was about a 15 minute walk to the old town, and a very direct walk at that. In the other direction there was a park with a playground (Google Maps) and some nice scenery.
What We Liked: The neighborhood was great, and when we return to Prague someday we will probably try to stay in the same area. Prague has lots of vegetarian options, and there was a vegetarian restaurant just a block from our door. There were also so many other restaurants with options for us on our street that even after a whole month there we hadn’t tried all the places we wanted to eat at. There were also two grocery stores right on the street.
The Airbnb was comfortable and attractive, with plenty of space for Lisa to play. The bed was comfortable and the kitchen had everything we needed. The host always responded promptly when contacted. Prague was one of our favorite months of our year in Europe.
What We Didn’t Like: The biggest flaw was probably the layout of the bathrooms. There was a bathroom right off the bedroom, but it just had a sink and a shower. The toilet was in a second bathroom off the kitchen. Everything was usable, it was just a little awkward. The elevator was also kind of small, and the stairwell light was on a timer that seemed a little to quick.
Sep 26 – 27, 2017
One Word Review: Welcoming
Description: We stayed in this loft for one night as we made our way from Scotland to London for our flight to Prague. Because of the whole slow travel thing that we do, we usually rent an entire apartment so that we can do our own cooking and have lots of privacy (read our tips for Airbnb for slow travel), but sometimes we make an exception. In this case, since all we needed was bed to crash on for the night, we didn’t mind a private room in someone’s home. Instead of cooking our own breakfast, we just went to a local cafe, of which there were plenty in the area.
What We Liked: Brief though it was, everything about this Airbnb was great. Right off the bat, the host distinguished himself by staying up into the middle of the night to welcome us. We’d had car troubles AND gotten stuck in traffic, which meant we were way behind schedule, but at almost midnight our host was waiting by the door to show us in and make sure we were all set.
The room was a loft on the top floor of the house. It was comfortable and really quaint looking, with a very nice bathroom. We slept like logs after our frustrating day of travel. The entire house was decorated with artifacts from the hosts’ world travels, and we really regretted that we didn’t have time to stick around and chat before we moved on.
What We Didn’t Like: NA
Sep 20 – 26, 2017
One Word Review: Refreshing
Description: What a relief it was to stay in this Airbnb. We had just finished almost three straight months of tent camping in Scotland, and we were tired and sore with a chill in our bones. We wanted to treat ourselves to some relaxation, and though we’d originally planned to explore nearby Glasgow for a week on our way back to London, we opted for a quaint village experience instead.
We were really focused on comfort after all the rain we had in Glencoe, so the pictures of this place were really what sold us (observe the big bathtub). Also, after three months of sleeping with a toddler between us, Dannie and I were willing to spend a little extra on an apartment with a second bedroom. This was Lisa’s first time ever sleeping in her own room, and her first time ever sleeping in a real bed! Even before camping, she’d been spending her nights in her folding travel tent (the KidCo Peapod Plus). She loved her tent, but she sure got a kick out of having her own bed.
What We Liked: It was SO comfortable. The apartment was much bigger than you could tell from the photos on the listing, and the view of the village out the window was beautiful. We spent hours just sipping warm drinks and watching the quiet town go about its business. Everyone in the area was very friendly, and though grocery options were limited, there were several restaurants on the street that had vegetarian options (though the Chinese takeout place we tried was terrible). Everything was soft and warm, and it was just what I needed.
Also, the host (or rather their manager) was amazing. The apartment manager had an office right next door, and he was incredibly helpful. We were probably the neediest guests he had ever had, constantly pestering him with questions about the area, Glasgow, other little issues. We helped us look for a garage when our car got a flat tire, and he even found a little screw driver when we discovered that Lisa’s new toy – a Peppa Pig car – was literally screwed to its packaging. That saved us a lot of toddler tears.
What We Didn’t Like: The small town, though quaint and relaxing, was small. When we needed a tow for our car, we had to call a dealership in Glasgow. The grocery options were also very limited, which meant we were limited in what we could do with the amazing kitchen. I think there was bigger grocery store in a nearby town, but we never made it there.
Oh, and there was a gas fireplace that we were dying to use, but we couldn’t get it working.
Jul 30 – Aug 1, 2017
One Word Review: Unimpressive
Description: Between our campsite in Dunbar and our campsite in Glencoe, we spent two nights in Dundee, sort of halfway between. This was one of those times when we opted for a private room instead of a whole apartment because we knew we weren’t staying long enough to make full use of our own kitchen, etc. The listing is in a big house with multiple rooms for rent. There is a big kitchen that guests are allowed to use, and a laundry machine as well. There is a dryer, but we were told it didn’t work.
What We Liked: The host owns a cat that liked to sleep on our bed, and our daughter absolutely loved it. It was also nice that there was a private driveway so we didn’t have to worry about all of our gear sitting in the rental car in full view of the road. The building had a cool layout, and we thought it had the potential to be a really cool bed and breakfast with a bit more effort.
What We Didn’t Like: Apart from Dundee being kind of boring, there were a number of other problems. There were two wifi routers, but the wifi was still essentially non-functioning. We usually couldn’t connect unless we were sitting in the kitchen. The walls were also paper thin and from our room we could hear everything that was being said on the same floor as us, which included the common areas and the kitchen. This meant we didn’t feel like we had a lot of privacy.
Speaking of thin walls, we couldn’t help but overhear the host complaining on the phone that she didn’t want to wind up renting a room to “twelve muslims or something.” So there’s that.
Jul 13 – 15, 2017
One Word Review: Castle
Description: Despite being listed on Airbnb, this facility is run more like a hotel. There is a front desk with a concierge and everything, and meals, purchased separately are served in one big (and beautiful) dining room. We stayed in this castle for our anniversary, and it’s one of the few Airbnbs we’ve visited that we thought was worth it’s own blog post, simply because it was so unique. In addition to celebrating our anniversary, we also wanted one last binge of luxury before we began 3 months of tent camping in Scotland.
What We Liked: Obviously, the most interesting thing about this listing is that it’s a castle. They did a good job restoring the place, and the luxurious interior matches the outward appearance. Our room was quite comfortable, and we especially liked the large bathroom. The common areas included a reading lounge, a big dining room, a cafe, a children’s play room, a small movie theater, another lounge, and a big yard with gardens, a pond and statues.
The staff was very accommodating. The concierge helped me to order flowers to be delivered directly to Dannie as a surprise while we were outside taking anniversary photos. They also had vegetarian options in the dining room which we always appreciate.
Did we mention it was a castle?
What We Didn’t Like: Some people might not like that the place is a little isolated, but for us that was kind of the point. If I had to nitpick, I guess I could complain that the artificial log I bought from them for our fireplace didn’t burn very well, though there’s always a chance I was just doing it wrong.
Saltcoats, Lake District, England
Jul 9 – 13, 2017
One Word Review: Rural
Description: This Airbnb is in a farm house on an active farm. This was our first stop after leaving London (apart from the time we spent visiting some friends we met on Instagram). It was located in the less touristy part of the Lake District, where I’m pretty sure we saw more sheep than people. The bathrooms are shared, in the farmhouse, but we never found ourselves competing for time. The main common area was the big kitchen, which was exactly what we pictured a farm kitchen looking like – a huge table and a big stove with lots of pots and pans, etc. There was a shelf in the fridge set aside for us.
Because it was out in the middle of nowhere, this place definitely requires a car. There wasn’t much in the way of grocery shopping, but we got by. We didn’t try any of the nearby restaurants, though we saw a few in the nearby towns. We intended to do a little more exploring while we were here, but Dannie and Lisa both came down with nasty colds just before we arrived, and we spent a lot of our time resting. You can see the pictures we did take in this post about our time in the Lake District.
What We Liked: The scenery in the area was amazing, and the farmhouse was comfortable. Though the hosts worked and were out of the house most of the time, when we did see them they were curious and helpful. The country roads had almost no traffic, and Lisa enjoyed riding her scooter past the fields, even though she had the sniffles.
What We Didn’t Like: Though we loved the scenery, getting to that scenery (or the Airbnb for that matter) meant driving on winding hillside roads too narrow for two cars to pass each other, save at designated passing points. It was a little intimidating for us, but the locals seemed used to it and drove very quickly, sometimes getting frustrated when they were stuck behind us. Because we didn’t come to visit any attractions in particular, but to get some time to ourselves, we didn’t mind being isolated, but if you are visiting the Lake District to tour, this might be a bit out of the way.
Jun 28 – Jul 6, 2017
One Word Review: Adequate
Description: This was the Airbnb we stayed while we visited London, before we set off to go camping in Scotland, and after arriving at Heathrow. We were there for about a week. Streatham is well outside downtown London, so we had to treat our touring almost like we were taking day trips. Luckily the public transportation in the area is good, and Lisa got a kick out of riding on the double decker buses. I believe it was a pretty new listing, and though everything was in working order, we could tell that repairs had been made recently, based on the occasional screw or assembly manual we found on a shelf. Still, they’d done a pretty good job with the place.
What We Liked: The street we were on had lots of restaurants, with good variety (Chinese, Italian, Indian, Mexican, American, British) and reasonable prices. The host was very helpful when we moved in, and he gave us information about the area and the bus routes. Everything in the apartment was as comfortable as we wanted it to be, and the building and the neighborhood felt very safe to us. Groceries were easy to find – though the stores were small, there were a lot of them – and we even found an asian food store that had a lot of ingredients we hadn’t enjoyed in quite a while.
What We Didn’t Like: Though we liked the neighborhood, getting to the attractions was a bit of a nuisance. Getting downtown took at least 45 minutes, which is a large commitment of time. We really wanted to photograph more of the city, but the tiring commute definitely caused us to call off a couple of outings that we would have made otherwise.
Jun 21 – 28, 2017
One Word Review: Hot
Description: Ok, so describing the apartment as hot is a little unfair since we visited France in the middle of a record heat wave. The host sympathized with us and said he ordered an air conditioner, but then called us later to say that the store had run out and it wouldn’t be there until almost the end of our stay. Luckily the heat subsided a little before then. I don’t know if he ever got one or not. But enough about the weather.
The apartment is beautifully decorated, which made us feel fancy, but also meant a little headache as we tried to keep our toddler from playing with stuff. It was comfortable, and though the kitchen was very small, there were so many restaurants nearby and our stay was just one week, so we didn’t mind all that much. We still cooked a few meals with food from the nearby grocery store. There was a playground right across the street, which Lisa enjoyed.
There was one bedroom, and Dannie and I slept on the fold out couch so that Lisa and her grandmother could have the bedroom for once. The fold out couch was ok, but probably not as comfortable as the real bed.
What We Liked: The location was the best feature of this Airbnb. It was very close to the Louvre, which we enjoyed photographing, along with all the other popular attractions within easy walking distance.
What We Didn’t Like: There was a lot of street noise. This was especially true on the fist night of our stay which happened to coincide with a city wide music festival (not the host’s fault I suppose).
Check-in was a little inconvenient since the host was unavailable and we had to get the key from his friend who was at work in a nearby restaurant. The family waited by the door with our luggage while I tracked him down (I speak no French).
Jun 14 – 21, 2017
One Word Review: View
Description: Our week in this Airbnb in Amboise was one of the best weeks of our entire year in Europe. While here we relaxed, ate from local shops recommended by the host, and sipped wine while enjoying the incredible view. The house is located on the Ile d’Or, and it just so happens to be the best place in town to view the castle. Other travelers would sometimes stop in front of our door to take a picture because the location was perfect.
To go shopping or tour the town, entailed a five minute walk across the bridge that spanned the river. If we weren’t experiencing heat wave, this would have been no hassle at all. Amboise is in my top five favorite towns that we have visited in the world. It was also a great home base for exploring the Loire Valley by car.
What We Liked: Apart from the flawless location, the apartment had many other good qualities. Despite the heat, the apartment kept cool during the day and had a pleasant breeze. Though an occasional photographer would walk by, the street was quiet, and the isolated location meant very little traffic. There was plenty of parking just down the street.
The host was very friendly, and had lots of advice for us. She also told us the name of the friendly cat that enjoyed our window sill, and took Lisa to her nearby home to meet some baby pigeons she had found. Overall a very kind person.
What We Didn’t Like: The kitchen was a little small, but far from the smallest we had worked with. We just moved the table over a little when we wanted more space.
The only other possible downside was that the host expected us to vacuum and wipe things down before we left. She said it was French custom, but it was the first I’d heard of it while staying exclusively in Airbnb’s in France. But hey, if it made this awesome place affordable to us, it was well worth 30 minutes of cleaning up after ourselves.
May 31 – Jun 14, 2017
One Word Review: Relaxing
Description: Avignon, and Provence in general was our main destination in France in 2017. We had come to photograph the famous lavender fields, and Avignon was our home base. This Airbnb was located inside what seemed to be a very old but very beautiful stone building, and was accessed by climbing a narrow spiral staircase to the third floor (in Europe, the second floor since you walk in on the ground floor and then go up to the first).
The bedroom was in a loft that overlooked the living room, with a fold out bed. The kitchen and the bathroom were also on the main floor of the apartment. There was no dining room, but there was seating along a bar that stretched between the kitchen and the living room.
What We Liked: We loved the city of Avignon, and the apartment was very close to everything we wanted to do, see or photograph (read our brief guide to Avignon in the spring). Though our entire month in France was incredibly hot, the apartment stayed relatively cool thanks to all the windows.
Finding food to eat was easy with plenty of grocery stores and a huge produce market (Google Maps) down the street.
The city was convenient for our purposes, since our main goal was to tour the Provence countryside, and Avignon is centrally located to some of the best sites.
What We Didn’t Like: The biggest downside was probably that spiral staircase. Even though it was cool looking and made us feel like we were living in a medieval castle or something while we walked up, it got a bit tiring after a while. There was no elevator, and we traveled with a lot of luggage that we had to haul up and down when we arrived and left.
Also, the loft was a little bit of a hazard for our toddler who was obsessed with going up and down the stairs and had to be kept busy doing something else.
Apr 30 – May 31, 2017
One Word Review: Ideal
Description: We felt like we got really lucky with this Airbnb listing. The apartment was located in the Jewish Ghetto district, which is very quiet compared to other areas of the city. A thirty minute walk got us to Piazza San Marco and most of the other attractions we wanted to see. The space was quite large for a European apartment, but it was long, rather than wide. It had a kitchen and laundry and everything else we needed.
Overall, it was a good balance of convenience and luxury.
What We Liked: Like we said, it was much quieter than the most heavily touristed parts of the city. There were places very close by where you could catch a gondola or a water bus to visit the islands. But you didn’t have to travel far to find beautiful scenery, Venice really is as packed with canals, bridges and colorful buildings as you always imagined it is. That was true of the Ghetto district as well. We stayed there for a whole month and a lot of our photography was done right outside our door.
There was a grocery store just down the road (sidewalk? canal?) that we walked to almost daily, and there were some bars and restaurants nearby too on the rare occasion when we decided to eat out. We did eat a lot of gelato.
The host was very attentive, and one time when the hot water stopped working he was there very quickly to repair it. There was a courtyard in the middle of the building where we could let Lisa toddle around without worrying much about her safety. This was a big relief since we didn’t really trust her near the canals.
The kitchen was pretty good and we made a point of cooking a lot of Italian food.
What We Didn’t Like: Venice as a whole is not very stroller friendly. Even the most heavily trod paths have foot bridges without ramps. When there is a ramp, it is usually still clogged with able-bodied adults who are walking on it just because the stairs were crowded. Not that we’re bitter. The apartment was great, but it was a bit of a walk from the train station. Luckily the directions the host gave us were spot on and we didn’t have any trouble finding it. We just didn’t enjoy pulling our luggage over all those bridges.
The wifi was pretty good in one end of the house, but it was a little spotty on the other end, like I said, the apartment was very long. Trash is a bit of an issue in Venice (no roads for garbage pick-up), and though there were dumpsters a couple hundred meters away, it wasn’t a very fun walk with a big bag of diapers. The dumpsters were usually full, and you often had to leave your bags in a growing pile on the sidewalk. This wasn’t the host’s fault, but it was an inconvenience.
It was kind of expensive, but hey, that’s Venice. The courtyard was nice, but it did have a lot of mosquitoes, and Lisa had some bug bites in a lot of our photos. Luckily, Dannie was able to fix them using photoshop.
Apr 1 – 30, 2017
One Word Review: Colosseum
Description: This apartment was literally a block from the colosseum. You could see it if you stuck your head out the window and looked to the left. We took advantage of this fact to visit it multiple times and get one of our best photos, and we also wrote a post about lots of beautiful angles you can get for free.
What We Liked: The host was very professional. She had an office in the basement of the apartment building where she checked us in before showing us around the place. She helped us register our stay with the city government, which many Airbnb hosts don’t bother with. This meant paying our visitor tax, but that was actually not a problem for us, we don’t really like feeling as though we have to stay under the radar.
The proximity to the colosseum made our photography really easy, and though the closest stores and restaurants were very expensive, there was a reasonably priced grocery store not too far away.
The best part was that the apartment building had cleaning service and we had the option of letting a maid in daily to do a very good job cleaning up. This was something we weren’t used to while staying in Airbnbs, and it made us feel better about the money we spent to stay in the great location.
The bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchen were all clean, useful and comfortable.
What We Didn’t Like: Even though we felt that we got what we paid for, the apartment was a bit pricey. Luckily, there was a monthly discount.
We weren’t directly on the street around the colosseum, but we could still here quite a bit of noise during the day. At night it was fairly quiet, except when someone opened or closed the very, loud gate to the courtyard, which echoed through the apartment. Some of the other residents had a habit of talking loudly while the went in and out of the building.
Mar 31 – Apr 1, 2017
One Word Review: Helpful
Description: We didn’t really tour Podgorica, we just took a bus there from Kotor to catch our flight to Rome. We stayed in this Airbnb for one night and it definitely served its purpose, which was to keep us safe and comfortable and give us a good night’s sleep. The only exploring we did was a walk to a nearby mall where we ate at an Italian restaurant that we quite enjoyed. We also bought some pastries to eat for breakfast when we woke up.
What We Liked: The host was amazing. Even though we were only there for one night, she picked us up at the bus station and brought us to her apartment. We had too much luggage to fit in her car, so she even made two trips. She couldn’t take us to the airport the next morning, so she called the taxi for us and made sure the driver knew where to pick us up and what we looked like. The apartment itself was comfortable.
What We Didn’t Like: Brief though it was, the experience was very positive. I kind of had a feeling that if we’d been there to tour the city then the location might not have been ideal, but I can’t really say for sure.
Mar 1 – 31, 2017
One Word Review: Streets
Description: During our stay in Kotor, we rarely left the Old town that houses this Airbnb. Sure we went grocery shopping down outside the walls and we ventured out to photograph the Bay of Kotor and Our Lady of Remedy. Oh and Our Lady of the Rock. But overall, we couldn’t get enough of those stone streets and buildings. Kotor was warm, even in March, and because it was the off season, we had the place almost to ourselves until near the end of the month.
What We Liked: Kotor was beautiful and the apartment was the most comfortable we had stayed at so far in Europe (though the competition at that point wasn’t very strong on the comfort scale). The kitchen was good and we finally had a washing machine for our laundry. The building was beautiful, built into the side of the hill, and it gave us easy access to both the old town and the waterfront.
Our host was attentive and he even got back to us late at night when Dannie was sick with a fever and I asked him where I could find a pharmacy that would be open (I jogged about 2km to get there).
What We Didn’t Like: One trend we’ve noticed during our travels is that popular tourist towns like to do their renovations in the off season. This makes all the sense in the world, but it sure does stink when they dig up the road right in front of your doorstep. Sure we had access to the rest of the town… after we walked carefully across a plank that was laid over the very deep trench in front of our building. There’s nothing our host could do about it, and it won’t be there for future guests, but it was quite the inconvenience.
There were stairs in the apartment that made us worry a little bit about our toddler, but she never had any falls because we paid close attention.
Oh, and for about a week there was a guy who seemed to be sawing metal pipes on the steps right outside our window at about 9pm. Once again, I doubt he’ll be there again if you visit.
Jan 31 – Mar 1, 2017
One Word Review: Damp
Description: The apartment is on a hillside near the old town of Split. The building looked like it wasn’t originally a house but had been remodeled to serve as a living space. We stayed there for the month of February. It had the basics we needed for the month, including a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom and a bedroom. It was small, but big enough for a small family.
The host was incredibly friendly. He picked us up from the bus station after our ride from Dubrovnik, pointing out possible attractions on the way to the Airbnb. When it was time for us to leave for Kotor, Montenegro, our bus left so early that we decided to book a night in a hotel by the station so we wouldn’t have to carry all of our bags across town in the middle of the night. He gave us a ride to the hotel too, which was a big help.
What We Didn’t Like: Unfortunately, February is cold and rainy in Split, and a lot of water condensed on the windows and the walls of the house. After a couple weeks, it started getting really moldy. The host was very apologetic, explaining that guests had never stayed long enough for this to be an issue. Normally, it got cleaned after a couple of days. He called a roofer to look at the insulation where water was condensing, and he bought us a dehumidifier, but the dampness was persistent. In the summer, I could have seen the place being very nice, but it was wet in February.
For the record, I’ve looked at the reviews since our stay (including some in the winter) and no one else has mentioned the problem, so maybe it really is only an issue for long term rentals.
The only other problem we had was that the road leading to the house from the old town was a little bit creepy after dark, though we never had any incidents.
Jan 6 – 31, 2017
One Word Review: Magic
Description: This Airbnb was at the top of an old stone tower in the Dubrovnik Old Town. The windows overlooked a beautiful cathedral, and the harbor and the city walls were as close as you could like. Dubrovnik was the first stop of our year traveling in Europe, and as photographers, it was the perfect place to start our adventure.
What We Liked: Our host’s father managed the apartment, and he was very attentive. We arrived on the coldest, windiest night Dubrovnik had seen in 50 years, but he waited outside for us to arrive by bus after our flight was canceled for the second time. Later, when the pipes froze for a few hours, he brought us bottles of water and helped us get things flowing again. Later, the weather warmed up a bit and we liked that, too.
The bedroom was in a loft and the kitchen and living room were on the first floor. The whole place was made of stone and exposed beams, which gave it a very fairy tale feel. The bed was nice and warm, and Dannie and I agree that some of our best memories from our travels (so far) are of the three of us cuddled up in the bed, reading, writing on the computer, and singing lullabies to Lisa (then moving her to her travel tent because that girl likes to kick in her sleep).
What We Didn’t Like: Living in an old stone tower is definitely romantic, but there are two downsides. The first is that it was a sixty stair climb to get to our apartment, and there was obviously no elevator for our bags. The other problem is that the insulation isn’t great. I don’t know how it is in the summer, but on the coldest nights we could see our breath in there. The apartment was supplied with a space heater to accompany the heater mounted on the wall, but it was no match for the cold stone walls. After a few warm days with lots of sunshine it got better.
Oh, and the kitchen was very small. Most travelers probably only stay in Dubrovnik for a few days, but during the off season while we were there for a month, most of the restaurants in town were closed, so we had to do a lot of cooking.
Saint Augustine, Florida
Dec 12 – 15, 2016
One Word Review: Location
Description: We rented this apartment along with my parents for a weekend getaway and early Christmas celebration. We chose St. Augustine because of their famous Christmas light displays, which were very impressive despite being hampered by the hurricane they had suffered in the fall. The kitchen was decent, but we didn’t wind up using it as much as we expected because we were so busy taking photos.
What We Liked: Due to the excellent location near the Fort and the old town, there were plenty of restaurants to choose from. We found the apartment to be very comfortable, and the hosts were very friendly, chatting up my parents about there travels. The living room had a toy chest for Lisa to enjoy. We didn’t really have any problems during our stay.
There was a driveway for off street parking.
What We Didn’t Like: Hmm… maybe it was a little hard to find with the GPS directions? Like I said, problem free.
Oct 23 – 24, 2016
One Word Review: Airport
Description: After we changed our plans and stayed in Paris instead of touring Hamburg during our first trip to Europe, we still had to make it to Hamburg eventually to catch our flight. We canceled another booking we had made and booked this one because it was right next tot he Hamburg Airport. The name of the listing says it all.
What We Liked: Our room was comfortable enough, and the airport was so close that for our meals we just walked there and bought our food. We also walked there with our rolling suitcases on the morning of our flight.
What We Didn’t Like: The room was a little tight for two parents and a baby who had just learned to walk.
Oct 20 – 23, 2016
One Word Review: Small
Description: We had originally planned to stay in Paris for half of our trip and then move on to Hamburg, but at the last minute we decided that there was still so much more we wanted to see and do in Paris that we decided to cancel our Hamburg booking and find another apartment in a different part of Paris. This was the place that we found.
What We Liked: The location of this apartment really was excellent, it was close to a lot of the attractions that people come to Paris for. The streets below were busy and full of restaurants, bars and shopping.
What We Didn’t Like: The good location did have a downside, there was quite a bit of street noise, and there was a flashing LED advertisement right across the street that shined right into our window.
Also, everything was very small. The kitchen unusably so. There wasn’t room to put all of our bags down (especially after we opened Lisa’s travel tent for sleeping). The elevator was the smallest we’d ever seen – the three of us could just barely squeeze in, and if we had our big stroller with us (this was before we got our Yoyo), we’d have to make two trips and take it apart.
And finally, I’m pretty sure the host wasn’t supposed to be renting out her apartment because she seemed very nervous about us and our baby bothering the neighbors.
Oct 14 – 20, 2016
One Word Review: Eiffel
Description: This place didn’t quite have an Eiffel Tower view, but only because the window was on the wrong side of the building. To get there we just had to walk down the street and across the bridge. There was one bedroom with a second bed in the living room. There was also a laundry machine.
What We Liked: Clearly, the location close to the Eiffel Tower, the Trocadero and the Bir Hakeim Bridge was the main selling point for this place, and it delivered. If you can handle the stairs, there was a quick climb up the hill to a street with lots of food and stores. The apartment was spacious and the kitchen was functional enough.
What We Didn’t Like: Though it was close to the attractions listed above, it was quite a long walk to get to other places in Paris. If you want to see it all in a short period of time, something more central might be ideal. This is especially true if you have small children or babies with you like we did because the Paris subway is NOT stroller friendly.
The handle fell off the bathroom door when we tried to open it the first time. From then on we had to be careful while using the bathroom. This was almost two years ago, so I’m assuming it’s been fixed by now.
May 27 – 30, 2016
One Word Review: Walls
Description: We booked this house for a few nights to use as a base for touring Key West. Right off the bat, I should say that it was way to far away for this goal. We definitely should have paid up for a place on the island so that we could have spent an entire day there and less time driving. The Airbnb was a single room in the family’s house with a bathroom across the hall. The neighborhood had a small playground, though not much for an infant to use (this was back before Lisa was even one year old).
What We Liked: The host family was very nice, and there were some toys in the room for Lisa to play with (though she was hilariously frightened of the rocking horse).
What We Didn’t Like: Even though the family was nice, quarters were a little close. The walls to the room didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling, so there was nothing in terms of sound proofing. They did their best to be quiet for them, and vice versa, but there wasn’t much privacy. Also, there were a lot of dead flies. Also, though we had access to the kitchen, the oven was full of dirty dishes when I wanted to heat up a frozen dinner we’d bought.
Delray Beach, Florida
May 24 – 27, 2016
One Word Review: Classy
Description: We stayed here as part of our east coast Florida road trip. The condo is in a development with several buildings, and it wasn’t a bad place to stroll Lisa around when she needed a nap. We picked it because it was convenient to the beach, and we enjoyed taking Lisa to put her feet in the water. The bedroom was in a loft that overlooked the living room.
What We Liked: Aesthetically, the apartment was very pleasing, and everything was comfortable. We ordered takeout and also cooked a couple meals in the kitchen. The location was good. The drive to the beach was very short, and we also did some shopping at a nearby Trader Joes.
What We Didn’t Like: It was pretty tough to keep our daughter occupied inside. She was crawling and cruising by this point, and she wanted to play with all those decorations and go up and down the stairs to the loft.
Apr 19 – 20, 2015
One Word Review: Yurt
Description: Dannie had always wanted to stay in a yurt (really), so as part of her babymoon trip to Asheville, North Carolina for a yoga retreat, I booked this place on the way home. Our Yurt was one of two in the woods that the host couple rented out on Airbnb, along with a few rooms in their home. There was a toilet inside the yurt, with some kind of fancy smell free disposal system that I didn’t understand, but which worked very well. The room had a heater and a big bed. There was a shower up by the house.
In the morning the hosts cooked us breakfast and chatted with us for a while about their home and their business.
What We Liked: The Yurt looked like a tent on the outside and a palace on the inside (see the photos in the link above), we slept great. The best part of our stay was actually a thunderstorm with torrential rains that passed during the night. The roar of the water over our heads as we lay in bed with our hands on Dannie’s belly was one of the most magical feelings we’ve had in all of our travels.
The breakfast we were served in the morning was excellent, and was not only vegetarian but organic. I’d never had French toast casserole before, and I haven’t had it since, but it sure was good! The couple was very nice, and we were the first guests to stay in their yurt through Airbnb. We felt privileged to write their first review (it was good).
What We Didn’t Like: The walkway to the yurt was a little slippery when wet.
Apr 16 – 17, 2015
One Word Review: Beautiful
Description: We stayed in this house on our way north to North Carolina where Dannie was going to a silent yoga retreat for her babymoon. We stayed for one night, and traded photography services to the host and his adorable son for a discount. The house was within walking distance of famous Forsyth Park, which we enjoyed walking in. Savannah has always been one of our favorite American cities, and before we started traveling full time it was one of the places we considered settling down.
We had access to the whole house except for a couple rooms, which meant we had the option of using the kitchen if we needed it.
What We Liked: The house was beautiful and clean, and the host was very nice. We got to meet his son, too, which was a delight. We were able to walk to a good vegetarian restaurant, and there were other places to around too.
What We Didn’t Like: There was a tv in our room, but something wasn’t working properly and we couldn’t watch a movie. Oh well.
Jan 30 – Feb 4, 2015
One Word Review: Friendly
Description: We stayed here while we were attending a wedding photography convention in Nashville. We didn’t care for Nashville much, but we adored this Airbnb. The host couple was friendly and fun. They were artists, and their home had some of the coolest decor we had ever seen. The house was definitely outside of walking distance to downtown Nashville, but we had a car, and we even tried Uber for the first time here when we wanted to have a beer with dinner.
What We Liked: The house was beautiful and welcoming, and there was a great vegetarian restaurant nearby where really enjoyed our meal and I tried seitan for the first time.
Also, they had an amazing parrot who knew a lot of words and did a great impression of the phone ringing. We liked the parrot a lot more than the photography convention. Nearby was a big park where Dannie and I went for a long walk.
What We Didn’t Like: The bed could have been a little more comfortable. We thought Nashville was boring, but we know there are others who will disagree.
Jan 29 – 30, 2015
One Word Review: Surprising
Description: This place was just a stop on our drive to Nashville. We stayed for one night and left early in the morning. We didn’t do much research before renting it, so we were pleasantly surprised by how nice it was when we arrived. The Airbnb was an apartment on the side of a family’s house with it’s own entrance. We never met the family, but they were helpful with directions as we were getting close.
What We Liked: The kitchenette wasn’t much to cook with, but it was stocked with snacks and drinks. The bed was comfortable with lots of pillows, and the bathroom was clean.
What We Didn’t Like: Off street parking would have been nice, but they can’t move the roads.
St. Augustine, Florida
Aug 19 – 21, 2014
One Word Review: Cute
Description: This was our first trip to St. Augustine, Florida, and we did a lot of fun stuff. The house was within walking distance to most of the best places in St. Augustine, and we took a lot of photos while we were there.
What We Liked: The location was great and the cottage was very cute. It had room for all of us, and we made use of the kitchen. We really liked this place and it’s one of the few Airbnbs we tried to book a second time (though it wasn’t available for our next trip).
What We Didn’t Like: To get to the bathroom there was a step down from the the next room, and I think each one of us almost wiped out using it at night. A nightlight would have been good.
Thunderbolt (Savannah), Georgia
Jul 14 – 16, 2014
One Word Review: Interesting
Description: This Airbnb was a single room in the home of a friendly and talkative woman. We’d gone to Savannah for our anniversary because it looked like a really beautiful city to explore, and it was. She loved cooking for her guests, and her food was pretty good. Another man joined us for dinner one night (I forget where he was from) and we traded travel stories. There was a nice garden outback where I spent some time writing on the laptop.
What We Liked: Because we had a car we were able to get into downtown Savannah and over to Tybee Island for some fun on the beach at sunset. The food our hostess served was good, but we still ate out a few times because it was our anniversary.
Savannah was absolutely beautiful, and this was the trip when we first fell in love with it.
What We Didn’t Like: Though we had a car, it was still a little inconvenient to be outside the city. Also, it was a little awkward to come home one evening and find out that the hostess had gone into our room and tidied up our stuff without checking with us first.
Brooklyn, New York
Oct 16 – 19, 2012
One Word Review: Uhhhh….
Description: This was our first ever Airbnb stay and it almost put us off the platform for life (we’re glad it didn’t though)! Dannie and I went on a trip to New York City for some photography and for Dannie to show me around her old stomping grounds. We ate a ton of good food while we were there and we got a lot of exercise.
The Airbnb was a single room off of a large common area in a warehouse district in Brooklyn. We parked our car outside on the street. There was a kitchen and a tv in the common area.
What We Liked: As it says in the title, the building did indeed have a roof. The host was understanding when we lost track of time and wound up checking out late.
What We Didn’t Like: The place was really dirty. The common area was very cluttered, and though we knew from the description that our room wasn’t the only one being rented out, this was where we discovered that sharing with other guests wasn’t for us. Especially sharing a bathroom. Down the hall, a band was practicing well into the evening.
Our bedroom was a modified closet where we could put our bags on the floor and sleep in a bunk bed near the ceiling. The sheets and the mattress were dirty and the bed wasn’t made. We had to ask for a blanket, which was also dirty. The view out the window was a subway bridge right outside, and the room rattled frequently when trains went by.
Of course, we would have easily avoided this place if we’d had more experience and used our own tips for using Airbnb, since a lot of the problems were evident in the listing if we’d known how to read it better.
So that’s our list. Before you book anything be sure to read our Airbnb tips, and don’t forget to sign up using this link to save $40 on your first booking and earn us a commission. It would be a great way to thank us for this ridiculously long post. If you’d like to learn more about our efforts to monetize this blog, please check out our monthly report, Operation Digital Nomad. And don’t forget to visit our resources page when you’re planning your next trip, whether it’s domestic or abroad.