How does Airbnb work – we review a family holiday and report back

How does Airbnb work – we review a family holiday and report back

Our top tips for using Airbnb for a family holiday with children

We tried Airbnb for the first time for a holiday to Italy with our two children. We stayed in a remote location on a hillside in Tuscany – here is what we discovered about Airbnb.

How does Airbnb work?

Airbnb is the world’s biggest accommodation-sharing website with millions of users. It connects people looking to rent their homes or properties with those looking for somewhere to stay.

Hosts list and rent out unused spaces while travellers search for and book accommodation in 192 countries around the world.


Booking is straightforward although the sheer amount of choice can be overwhelming at first.

Make sure you use the filters to specify requirements like a pool in the summer or family-friendly accommodation.

This narrows down the search results plus there is a handy map on the site to show you where all the properties are, along with lots of pictures.

It is also wise to check the cancellation policy as there are five different levels ranging from no money back to free cancellation up to 24 hours before.

As a guest, you pay in full as you book through a secure platform, and hosts will receive that money 24 hours after guests check in.

The price

It is definitely a cheaper option than traditional sites but beware of the hidden costs.

Our accommodation was very good value but some places stick on charges for extra residents in the small print and the cleaning costs vary quite a bit.

Look beyond the headline price per night.

Host liaison

This worked brilliantly for us, our host owned a group of apartments atop a hill in the Tuscan countryside. He responded quickly with loads of useful information and was always on hand to answer email queries before we arrived.

He met us upon arrival to show us around and answer any questions we had.

Some users report problems with disappearing bookings and payments. Airbnb say you should always pay through their proper channels to ensure you have some comeback if things do go wrong.

The reviews system

Airbnb is strict on reviews to ensure they are authentic so on lots of properties there isn’t much feedback.

But that does mean that the system is potentially more trustworthy than other sites.

We chose a property with some reviews (the host is often reviewed as much as the property) and found them to be spot on. We would always be cautious and book with a host who has a number of reviews.

The experience

Our host Gianfausto said “welcome to my home”. He even played the piano for guests and struck up a rapport with everyone staying there.

It felt more personal than a normal holiday and a bit different, I don’t think we have ever stayed anywhere with our children as authentic or remote.

In conclusion

We can see why Airbnb is so popular, it gave us a very different holiday at an affordable price.

Read a full review of our holiday here.

(Note: We received a contribution towards the cost of our stay from Airbnb but all opinions are our own).