Take the time
Since so many people are using Airbnb, Homeaway, VRBO, etc., we should all try to help each other out, and by that I mean, spend more than ten seconds on our reviews. I never book a rental without reading the reviews. Often, I read something that the host had not revealed in their description, i.e. 6th floor walk-up and no elevator. Here are few considerations that would be helpful to us.
Location. For the most part, these rental companies don’t tell you the exact address of the property (understandable). Instead they provide a general area map. Often, they tell you the neighborhood and often they don’t mention that it is just on the border of it and not in the middle like the circled map implies. So, you guys out there who are writing reviews need to beat them at their game. In your comments, mention what the apartment or home is close to, i.e. across from a wonderful bakery called Le Petit Cafe or the XXX Wine shop is just around the corner. Once I see the name of an establishment, I’m off and running on Google maps. With satellite, I “do the Google stroll” along the streets around that bakery you mentioned and decide if this is the kind of neighborhood I want to stay in and/or if it will make a good base for exploring. Often, there is a photo of the entrance to the building where the rental is located which is definitely helpful. If that is the case, I look to see if there is a potential noise issue that might arise from a downstairs bar or the beginnings of a large construction project in ear shot.
Get the Lay of the Land. Google Maps are also good for spotting all the restaurants, bars, markets, public transportation, etc. When I have multiple listings that I like, that has often been a deciding factor in my decision. (This afternoon, I did just that when looking at Copenhagen, Denmark. So much to do where we will be staying and tons of restaurants, cafes and cocktail lounges. I started looking up some of the restaurants online, reading their menus. It was just too much. I had to go downstairs and whip up a snack.)
Spill the Beans. If you noticed in the host’s description that they had failed to tell you about all those stairs or the nearby relentless construction, bring it up. Some people don’t want to return at the end of a long day of walking to four flights of steep stairs in Amsterdam. Others are light sleepers and they need to know. (I use a white-noise app on my phone to drown out street noise at night.) Even if the host was terrific and left a bottle of wine for you (which you should mention), if the plumbing is terrible or the hot water is short-lived, let it be known. I know. Sometimes it is hard to say anything negative when the host has been so agreeable and kind, but you owe it to us. There is an exception: when a problem arose during your stay but the landlord tackled it immediately or offered you some kind of compensation. I once didn’t reveal an issue with the property I was renting because the host told me he was getting it fixed the next day. If you mention construction, it doesn’t hurt to say if it looks like it is on the verge of completion…or at the very beginning. I should also add that when I read one review out of 15 that is very negative, I often put less value on it, especially if it seems unreasonable.
Give us your Recommendations. If there is a divine bakery that makes croissants fresh every morning, I want the name. That goes for any restaurants you consider memorable. If there was a particular dish you had that you dream about, I want to know that too. (I’ll tell you about mine: Dionysos Zonar’s restaurant located at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Order either the Greek platter or the seafood mezza. If weather allows, eat out on the terrace. I think there are two Dionysos in Athens so tell the taxi driver it is the one below the Acropolis. They’ll know it. It’s be around over 50 years.)
This also goes for supermarkets or open-air markets on certain days of the week. If there is a place to do laundry, once again give us the name or describe the location. (Airbnb & Homeway encrypt addresses and email addresses, but you probably can get away with the cross streets.)
So next time you do a review of your rental and you’re feeling lazy and you want to write something lame like, “Nice host. cozy apartment” which is almost as bad as Elaine in Seinfeld trying to put a positive spin on George Costanza as a blind date for a friend — just spill the beans. Help us all out.