Over the recent holidays, I had a few times to sit down and look through new or noteworthy travel apps for my iPhone. Among some others, I came across one called “Airbnb” (for iPhone and Android). The general idea of the app is to find lodgings that are away from the normal hotels. This means they feature Bed and Breakfasts, private apartment rentals and even just simple ‘rooms for rent’. They promote it as “A community marketplace for unique spaces”, which I find tends to be true.
The look and feel of the app is very simple, which is great. The opening screen just shows 4 menu options at the top and a scrolling visually-predominant list of ‘Popular’ spaces below. The ‘a Picks’ feature lists spaces made by the staff, that include anything from ‘Re-purposed’ spaces to ‘Royal Treatments’. The app puts emphasis on photographs and galleries, making for good looking listings.
When doing a search, you enter a city name, and get the option to filter based on price, type of accommodation and even travel dates. The searches are also saved, letting you quickly get back to what you were searching for later on. You an also view the search results as a map, to see what listing is closest to the area you want (ie: city center, airport, beach). Each listing has a gallery (if the ‘Host’ actually took photos), allows you to see property details, amenities and its location in the city. Every listing also has a ‘contact Host’ button for quickly emailing the poster, and a ‘Book It’ button for in-app bookings. You can also add each location to a ‘Wish List’.
One of the best features I think is a button in the search area that says ‘Help! I need a place, tonight!’ and does an automatic search based on your location for available places to stay. This could come in handy while traveling if a pre-planned hotel or hostel doesn’t work out (like if a flight comes in 12 hours late and the hotel’s front desk is closed…been there…done that).
You can also connect with friends via Facebook for sharing interesting places.
Finally, there is also the Airbnb Website, that is the online version of the app, and functions about the same, just on a bigger screen and a few more bells and whistles.
I’m very happy with this app, and have been playing around with it a lot recently, as we’re planning our next European trip in a few months. I’m definitely going to try booking and staying at one of the places I’ve found on here, and plan to have the app ready during the trip for if a hostel doesn’t work out.