How to Choose a Safe Airbnb
Are Airbnb’s safe? I’ve stayed in many Airbnbs and never had a serious problem or felt unsafe. Whereas I have felt unsafe in hotels. I’d say in general Airbnb stays are safe, but more so if you take time to choose the right accommodation.
Here’s a few tips for finding a safe Airbnb.
Read the reviews
When booking an Airbnb stay in a European city, how do you know if it’s in a safe neighborhood or not? Reviews are a goldmine of extra information and often reveal red flags, not only about the neighborhood, but about the accommodation itself. If you don’t want to read all the reviews, search for words like “location,” “safe,” “dark,” “crime.” Reviews may reveal whether guests felt safe, if the stairwell was dark, and sometimes undesirable features not stated in the “amenities,” like the fact the Paris apartment is on the sixth floor with no elevator.
Reading reviews also ensures you’ll select the right accommodation to suit your needs. See my post on Critical Questions to Ask Before You Book an Airbnb in Europe.
Read about the host
If there are several reviews, they should give you a glimpse into the character of the host and whether the host cares about guests’ needs and promptly resolves issues when they arise. Also check out the host’s bio at the bottom of the listing. I like it when they say something to the effect of, “I fully respect your freedom and privacy. I am available if you have any questions.” Look at their response rate as this is a clue as to how seriously they take their Airbnb business.
I prefer to stay in places like a gite or guesthouse that is separate from the host’s dwelling, but where the host lives right next door. In some major cities, hosts use a concierge service, so there is someone local who will respond if there is an issue.
If they are an Airbnb Superhost, it means that over the last three months they have received 4.8 (out of 5) or higher reviews, have a fast response rate and a less than one percent cancellation rate. However, it’s still important to read or at least search reviews for any red flags.
Check the amenities for a carbon monoxide and smoke detector
I’m amazed at how many Airbnb listings do not have these simple, inexpensive, lifesaving safeguards, especially when they are required in most cities and after many tragedies where people needlessly died because they were not in place. Check the “Amenities” under “Home safety” to see if “smoke alarm” and “carbon monoxide alarm” are listed. If not, and you still want to book the listing, bring your own. I am the queen of traveling light, but I always bring a small, lightweight carbon monoxide detector. If you can find one that detects both smoke and CO2 that would be even better.
Choose an accommodation above the ground floor
Generally, I don’t choose places on the ground floor because I like to leave my windows open. If it’s a small house with the bedroom upstairs, then I would feel fine because I could lock the downstairs windows at night and leave the upstairs windows open. Remember that in Europe the first floor is one flight up.
Do your due diligence if you are booking a private room
As a solo traveler, I often book a room in someone’s house, especially if I am only staying a night or two. Since you are sharing the home with the host, it’s even more important to fully research the host and the home situation.
Know who else will be staying in the home. If it’s not evident in the listing, ask the host if they host multiple guests at one time. And if there are other guests, be sure the host will be there during your stay.
Also, be sure the “Amenities,” listed under “Home safety” include the line “Lock on bedroom door. Private room can be locked for safety and privacy.”
Ask questions and follow your gut feelings
If you still have doubts about a listing, ask questions. You have the right to message a prospective host with as many questions as you need answered to feel comfortable. Always follow your instincts. If you have any doubts about the listing or the host, move on. There are plenty of other places to choose. Safe travels!