We have been fortunate this trip. Until our arrival in Baška on Krk Island in Croatia earlier this week, we have not had any disappointing stays. This is because I am crazy at researching where we are going to stay. I read reviews… then I read other reviews by the reviewers to establish if I can trust their reviews… then reviews of the reviewers… and on it goes.
It can become debilitating, and I fall down the rabbit hole of the internet. Then Daryl steps in and says “Jes, sometimes good is good enough.” Then I usually pick something.
This week’s place was a little different. Listed on Airbnb.com, it does not have many reviews (though all of them are 5s), or many photos, but seemed genuine, yet somehow I picked a dud. A little worse than a dud. Bad enough that we said we don’t care what it costs (eek!), we will find somewhere else to stay while on Krk!
So, here are the tips I follow:
1. Be a realist when it comes to price
- If you are traveling to many locations, take your overall budget and be flexible in different areas. Maybe staying in Monte Carlo isn’t in your budget. That’s ok, stop there for the day.
- As in everything, it is all about location and purpose. If you want to be a step from the beach or in the heart of town be prepared to pay.
- Lots of amenities cost money but weigh what they cost you in time. Having a washing machine in your place may be more, but the time saved in finding one and sitting around while your undies are on spin cycle is worth something.
- If the price seems so great it can’t be true it probably isn’t! 4 & 5-star accommodation may be out of your price range, but look at what they have to offer in your destination and if a 3 star has the same amenities but 1/3 the price, think again!
2. Look at photos of beds
- Does the bed look super plush or flat and hard? If the picture has a sink hole in the bed, you can bet it has not been replaced in ages. You can also bet everything else in the place is in similar condition. If you like sleeping in old beds filled with decades of other peoples rotting body secretions, be my guest. Otherwise, pay a few bucks more for a room with a comfortable looking bed.
3. Look at photos of the bathroom; in particular the shower
- The bathroom can say a lot about the cleanliness and upkeep of the space as a whole. I am not saying look at the style of the tile or the color. Who cares if the tile is old or salmon colored unless designer space fits your needs (see below).
- Clean is king. If the grout looks moldy and gross, it probably is.
4. Cross-reference with sites like TripAdvisor or Google reviews
- I like to see the ‘user’ photos because you get a ‘real’ photo of the space, but I always take the reviews for what they are. I rarely go by what they say unless there tons all saying the same thing. If a bunch of reviews screams out bed bugs, then maybe it’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. Decide what type of accommodation fits your needs
- We have a pretty hard rule; if we are staying for three nights or less, we like a hotel. If we are staying for three nights or more, we seek out an apartment (or self-catering as they call it in Europe).
- Do you want a location you can walk around, or do you need transportation? For example, when in a heat wave, rainy weather, or an area with a ton of concentrated sightseeing, we want a central location so we can park and forget our moto until we leave.
6. Make a list of what you “NEED” and what you just “WANT”
- Since we are traveling on a motorcycle space is limited and we each only have three outfits. For stays more than three nights we NEED a washing machine or access to one.
- Wifi is essential for us, but only a need if we will be somewhere for more than four days and plan to write or research. If we are looking for just a shower and crash place to sight-see around the clock, neither of these things matter to us.
- If we will be somewhere that is expensive to dine out, or for more than a few days I NEED a well-equipped kitchen. I love to cook and am not going to part up a whole chicken using a pairing knife.
- Do you want a “crash-pad” or designer space? For me, if I will be spending time in the space writing or re-grouping, I want a beautifully designed space. If we are just showering and hitting the bed, then style does not matter – only comfort and cleanliness.
7. Decide if you want interaction or privacy
- B & B’s tend to be best if you want host interaction.
- Hotels are best if you want privacy.
- Self-catering at times can provide a little of both.
- With Airbnb listings you can gauge the amount of interaction by the host’s profile, reviews, or bits of info in the listing such as “all outside spaces on the property are available for the guests to use” which usually means you are welcome to use their spaces, and they will be using them as well. We vary with what we look for; sometimes privacy, other times we want to be very interactive.
8. Finally, have faith in your ability to choose but always have a contingency budget
- We have pretty much strictly used Airbnb.com and Booking.com on our moto trip and have been very satisfied. When our Airbnb place was not up to snuff this week, Airbnb had my back. I emailed them, told them what was listed, and not in the unit, had photos to back up my statements, and with a few hours I was emailed I would receive a refund.
- Only people that have stayed at the accommodations can review on Booking.com, and all of our stays booked through them thus far have been accurate.
- When using Airbnb, have faith in the hosts. Most of them host because they love to travel themselves or enjoy meeting new people.
- We always have a safety budget for if the unthinkable happens, like it did this week!