Bangkok City GuideApril 2, 2017
2-hour bus tour of PutrajayaApril 26, 2017
Hotels in Tokyo can be very expensive especially when you are travelling in a big group. The small cubicles they call hotel rooms can cost you up to $100 a night and the cheaper capsules hotels were simply not ideal for family travel. After hearing alot about it, I decided to try out AirBnb and not only did it help me save some serious dollars, but staying at a local Japanese home was an experience no 5-star hotel could replicate.
Let’s start with the obvious. AirBnb is by far the cheapest option when visiting Tokyo. Instead of cramming ourselves inside tiny budget hotel rooms, all 9 of us opted for AirBnb and shared a 2-storey suburban apartment for a total of 10 nights. This is how much it would have costed us in comparison (Note: The estimates listed are taken from Agoda.com and these prices may vary depending on your travel days).
Park Hyatt $$$$$
10 night x 3 rooms (9 guests) – Deluxe room
Room includes: 1 king bed or 2 double beds
Total price $35,100 ($3,900/per person)
ANA Intercontinental Tokyo $$$$
10 night x 3 rooms (9 guests) – Classic room
Room includes: 2 single beds or double bed
Total price $14,167 ($1,574/per person)
Centurion Hotel Ueno $$$
10 night x 3 rooms (9 guests) – Superior single
Room includes: 1 semi double bed + 1 sofa bed
Total price $6,760 ($751/per person)
Capsule Hotel Anshin Oyado Tokyo Shimbashi $$
10 night x 9 rooms (1 capsule each)
Total price$5,100 ($573/per person)
10 night x 2 rooms
Room includes: Bedroom 1 (2 single beds), Bedroom 2 (1 double bed), Living room/common space (2 single bed + 1 sofa bed), Kitchen, activity room with a soccer table
Total price $2,290 ($254/per person)
How we got in
We were given a combination beforehand to unlock the giant padlock at the front door. Once unlocked, a small compartment pops open holding the apartment key inside. As simple as that! Throughout our trip we did not meet our host in person at all, but kept in contact through AirBnb’s messaging system instead. She replied to every inquiry in an instant.
What we liked
Quality of the property – After looking at that price comparison you may be thinking if the place was even that good? Well, everything looked exactly like the picture, the descriptions given by the host and even matched the reviews people wrote on the property. Maybe we got lucky, but the property was comfortable, clean, affordable and more well located than we thought.
The Japanese ‘suburbs’ – Staying at a less crowded part of Tokyo really do make a difference in our travel. You get to see things most tourists won’t see without looking for it. You get to go to a local supermarket, see water bottles lined up infront of their houses (I have no clue why), you get to see kids run late to school and even grandmas waving to you as they walk their dog. It may sound like such insignificant little things but its something you can’t explain but feel as if you are at that very moment apart of their little community
Nearby attraction and conveniences – Another perk to staying at Nishi Nippori was that you get to see hidden attractions you can only find at small suburban districts such as these. The Yanaka Ginza shopping street is within a 8 minute walk from our apartment and it was basically the only authentic Japanese market experience you will need. Dotted along the road leading to it was a collection of sake bars, okonomiyaki restaurants and handcrafted gift shops that has a homey vibe to it than the more ‘commercial’ experience you will find in the larger districts.
What we didn’t
Though there were some misunderstandings, there is honestly nothing that we didn’t like about the property. Everything was as if not more than we expected and bargained for.
Location inaccuracy – Before paying for your AirBnb home you won’t be given the full address of the property, but instead an estimate of the area it is in. Like any reasonable person, I would have thought that the location would be in the middle of that circle, which in this case showed that the property was within a quick 4 minute walk to the nearest train station. After booking it, we were thrown way deeper into the suburbs adding an extra 14 minute into that walk. We didn’t mind it in the end because we get to see things we won’t have had to otherwise, but if I had my grandparents come along this trip, I’d have to Uber it home everytime!
Lost in translation with home gadgets – During the first few days of the trip we had difficulty understanding how to use the automated home system that is integrated into the apartment. This home system controls the room temperature, water temperature, etc. Instructions were given but it clearly didn’t do what it was supposed to. In the end we ended up pressing the buttons the manual told us not to press and yet the hot water ended up working.
Another problem was the free portable hotspot which had trouble turning on and staying on, then reaching the quota limit very early in the trip. We weren’t even on YouTube!
Not meeting the host – I’m pulling hairs here, but throughout the 10 days, we didn’t get to meet our AirBnb host. Though it’s not much a disadvantage (a relief actually), it would have been nice to meet with the homeowners and get their insight/recommendations of what they liked to do in the area. Asking too much? I think I am.
Origin cafe and local yakitori joint
Will I use AirBnb again?
Fuck yes. AirBnb is a perfect way to feel like a local by living in their home. It is a great way to save up and provides an experience and conveniences no hotels could.
However, that being said, I do think that AirBnb is a matter of travel taste, style and enough research.
Depending on where you travel, AirBnb may be a riskier and less convenient option. For example, if you’re coming over to an island to relax, an AirBnb won’t offer you the giant pools and pampering service that a resort would for the same/cheaper price.
- Before booking your accomodation, do a thorough comparison of all the available options. Go on Agoda.com for hotel listings, Bookings.com for hotels and hostels, Hostelworld.com for hostels and AirBnb for homes/apartment/studio rentals. Otherwise, you can always stay for free by Couchsurfing.
- When using these sites MAKE SURE you compare:
- The price: Depending on the country, some hotels offer better rates and facilities an AirBnb couldn’t ever compete with.
- The guest ratings: If the ratings are over 8+, it would usually be a guaranteed good place to stay.
- The guest reviews: On top of the overall ratings, make sure you find out how many guests have rated AND reviewed the property. You can find the pros and cons from here and decide where to stay from there.
- LOCATION: I cannot stress how important this is. Make sure that the location is near the attractions you want to visit OR near a public transport of some sort. The amount of times I’ve seen reviewers complain about the location when that could be easily avoided by looking at Google maps!
- Follow the instructions, manuals or warnings from the host to avoid extra fees or to cause damage to the property. Not every appliance there may work the way you’d think they work. Sometimes they’re already faulty and you have to do things a certain way or else you’ll only damage it further.
- When something goes wrong, contact your host IMMEDIATELY. Most hosts will resolve this problem as fast as they can. Also, if you leave it to the last day, there is a chance that this ‘damage’ will be considered your fault and a reason for them to charge you over.
- Lastly, don’t be afraid to try it out! As long as you do enough research, you’ll do just fine.