I recently went on a solo trip to the Scandinavian countries. I am going to write everything about the trip in another post. But in this one, I really want to talk about the most important thing of any trip: Accommodation! Yes, sometimes we take it lightly but then if the place you are staying is not good enough, it can really ruin your trip.
This was the first time ever I tried Airbnb. I have always stayed in hotels. Somehow the idea of sharing a house/apartment with a stranger was never appealing to me but then this time, I thought and convinced myself for a change.
So, I went to 4 countries, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland and I booked Airbnb in all of them. Let me start right from the beginning.
How did I find the right accomodation?
So you need to be clear of your priorities. As in you want to stay near the airport or in the city or in the suburbs. That also depends on other things like in my case:
In Sweden: I was landing in the night at 10 PM, so I wanted to book something very near to the airport and metro.
In Denmark: I was landing in the evening at 6 PM, so again thought to book something in middle of the city and the airport
In Norway: I was arriving at 10 AM in the morning, so there was absolutely no issue! It gave me a chance to book something in the suburbs, not in the city and not even close to the airport.
In Iceland: You do not have much choice, almost every thing is in Reykjavik. There is nothing near the airport.
So once you are done deciding this thing, just go to Airbnb and start searching for the accommodations with city names. You can put filters as well. But before booking anything, always check on the map – the distance from the city center and from the airport – just in case. I learnt this hard way. In Copenhagen, I booked something in Malmo, Sweden. The two cities are just connected by a bridge but then why would I want to stay in Malmo, while I want to see Copenhagen. So before booking any place, please check the map – this is really important. Trust me.
So now, once you are done with location etc, how do you select the place to live?
I went with the number of ratings and off course – The Rating! My criteria was simple, I wanted something with above 4.5 rating and at least with 100 reviews. Read the reviews just to make sure they are genuine.
If you have any doubts, you can also contact the owner. Generally, they respond really fast! Almost like immediately!
Now next thing that you would want to check is the washroom! Most of Airbnbs have shared washrooms. So, if you are not comfortable with that – check it before hand. From my 4 accommodations, only 1 had my private washroom – rest everything else was shared.
Now, the most important thing is to check is the neighbourhood. Again I learnt it hard way! I don’t know why, just before starting my trip from the airport, I sent my accommodation details to one of my friends who stays in Stockholm and when I landed I had a message from him saying – ‘Stay with us. Come home.’ He did not mention anything at that time. But later he told me the place where I booked my Airbnb is little notorious and is not famous for good reasons. So, I was saved! After that I rechecked and did a bit of research on the neighbourhood of all the places I was going to stay.
In Copenhagen, I stayed with a family. It was an independent house with a room outside – with separate entrance. That room had a washroom – though very small but it was perfectly fine.
In Oslo, I booked a room in an apartment in Roa. It was a shared place with the owner. Again, I loved it! Though it had a shared washroom, I did not face any problem. It was indeed great!
In Reykjavik, I had to book 2 rooms. My first accommodation was not available for the last 2 days, so I had to shift. But I am glad this happened because I got to see 2 very different parts of the city: One was located in absolutely new city and other was in the old city. My first accommodation was a kind of a hostel with 2 floors, 4 bedrooms and a shared bathroom on each floor. My second apartment had 2 rooms, with a shared bath. The other room was for another guest.
My experience was extremely amazing! Even with the accommodations that had shared washrooms, I did not face any problem or issue.
All my places were extremely clean.
The best part that I loved about Airbnb was the human connection. I love talking to people while travelling, it helps me to know and understand the local culture. And Airbnb made it so easy for me. The owners were really cool, we spoke for length. I asked them questions on local food, culture, people, history and they actually explained it!
Not just that, you have someone to help you with basic things like what all to see in the city, how to go to places and everything else. It seems strange, but you kind of have a phone number that you can call in case of an emergency and that is a huge respite! May be it is just a feeling but then still, as a solo traveller that is something that helps.
Another best part was the kitchen! It is really fun to have a complete working kitchen while travelling. I never thought I would ever enjoy it. Rather than having the same hotel food, it was really fun to cook and enjoy your meal. May be just bring a bottle of wine and cook good food – and your evenings are sorted out, even in a foreign place!
Another thing is you are not confined to just a room! You have the whole house, with balcony, lawn, kitchen etc. which is really good. Specially in cold places, where you come back little early and you have the whole evening to yourself 🙂
So I would any day give Airbnb more points than a hotel. I agree that Airbnbs are not as luxurious and probably comfortable (in terms of bed, washrooms etc) as hotels. But if you look at the pros and cons, I would any day give Airbnb more points.
But again check everything properly, even the minute details before booking a place. Otherwise it can come as a shock to you.
Also, I will not suggest to book it for honeymoons – only if you are thinking of it 🙂
Also, in terms of price, Airbnb certainly saves you money. I will not say it makes a huge difference, but you will for sure save some money. For me, money was never a point of concern. But just in case.
For me, it was more about having a local experience and to have someone local to talk to, to get to know how people live in the countries I travel and all this certainly helps in getting a taste of the local culture.
Hope this article helps. Please comment if you want to know more 🙂