My First Airbnb Experience

Sunday, 7 February 2016



As a platform where owners (or hosts) can rent out their own homes to travellers for a short-term stay, Airbnb has made a huge impact on the travel industry over the past few years as a major competitor of hotels and resorts. Travellers can choose to rent a shared room, private room, or a entire home/apartment with the added comfort of home, but at a fraction of the cost of a hotel room. It's not hard to see why it's one of the most popular choices for accommodation these days!

When we started planning our trip to Korea, I originally had hotels near Myeongdong (명동) in mind (such as Nine Tree Hotel). But because Airbnb was such a popular option and I figured that someone's apartment would be cleaner than a hotel where thousands of people would've stayed at, I decided to give it a go. The apartment we decided on was this one because many of its previous guests left positive comments and were very happy with their stay overall.



Arrival

We arrived at the apartment around 4:00pm on 5 December 2015. There was no dramas with the check-in process because our host had previously given us all the information we required to access the apartment. The apartment looked exactly like the images provided—even though it was listed on the Airbnb website about a year ago, I figured that the shower walls might have a bit of mould of them—but it had none at all!

Cleanliness

Whether it be staying at a hotel or someone else's apartment, cleanliness is the most important factor for me. Fortunately, the apartment was very clean and we didn't experience anything gross like cockroaches or spiders running around.



Location

The reason why I chose to stay near Chungmuro Station (충무로역) and not Myeongdong Station (명동역) is because it has 2 lines and it would make going to other places easier. Myeongdong Station only has 1 line. I loved the location of our apartment—it was about a one minute walk to Chungmuro Station and about a 10 minute walk to the heart of Myeongdong.

Communications With Host

As it was my first time using Airbnb, I was really grateful that our host was so responsive. Everytime I would message him, he would respond in less than 15 minutes. (Sometimes, it would almost be instantly!) About a month before our check in date, our host also emailed us a bunch of information regarding the apartment, like details about the portable wifi, TV, laundry, and how to throw out the garbage. (FYI, Korea has very strict laws about garbage disposal.) He even provided us with a list of recommended places to visit!

Inconveniences

I won't go into the details, but the only inconvenience we encountered was that we were questioned by the Tourist Police on the second or third day about our stay in the apartment. I know it's almost impossible for Airbnb monitor the legality of the apartment listing (because apparently in Korea, unreported Airbnb rentals are illegal), but I just feel like guests should at least have some assurance that we're not staying in a house or apartment that could be subject to investigations by the police. That being said, I'm not deterred from staying at another Airbnb because of the incident above, but I will be more cautious about the short-term rental laws of the country I intend to visit in the future.



Overall, our stay at the apartment in Seoul was very pleasant. It felt homey, safe and comfortable. Also, we got to experience the amazingness of Korea's heating system, also known as ondol (온돌). Don't forget to check the apartment/hotel you intend to stay at has a floor heating system because it's super important if you're staying in the country during the colder months of the year.

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