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).

Where to go on your family holiday in January 2023 to find sun and fun

Where to go on your family holiday in January 2023 to find sun and fun

Where to find the winter sun in January

A family holiday in January gives you and your children something to look forward to and enjoy in the slump after Christmas when it is cold and dreary.

Here are our top picks for the best locations for a family holiday at the start of the year.

Canary Islands

Travel time from the UK: 4 hours

Temperature: 17-21C

The beach at Playa del Papagayo

Playa del Papagayo, Lanzarote

For decent warmth in January, the Canary Islands are the closest option to the UK. Lanzarote is the least high rise island in the Canaries with a great volcanic landscape, good theme parks, a submarine trip you can take and fine beaches.

We travelled there one January – read about the best beaches, parks and attractions for children in Lanzarote.

The other islands are also great options including Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura (read our review of a holiday in Fuerteventura here).


Travel time from the UK: 7 hours

Temperature: 20-25C



The Middle East is only really bearable with children between October and March. Dubai is a fantastic family destination – great beaches, warm sea, huge resorts and lots of attractions.

It is expanding all the time, with a new Legoland recently opened to go with water parks, indoor ski slopes and giant aquariums.


Travel time from the UK: 9 hours

Temperature: 26-28C

A woman sits on a swing on a tropical beach in the Caribbean

January in the Caribbean is peak season for a reason.

Tropical paradise doesn’t come cheap but the weather is perfect and the beaches are stunning sandy white stretches.

The Dominican Republic is more affordable than other areas and accommodation will often be an all-inclusive hotel.

If you want to get out and about, Barbados has villas to rent and Antigua is a small and safe option – both are well served with flights from the UK.


Travel time from the UK: 20 hours

Temperature: 23-26C

A panoramic view of Melbourne in Australia

Holiday season down under, January is when the schools are off in Australia.

The weather is hot everywhere but probably best in Melbourne. There are beaches aplenty and some great sights along the fabulous Great Ocean Road.

Children can enjoy a zoo, an aquarium and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in the city. Try an excursion to Phillip Island to spot some penguins.


Temperature: around 2-8C

The lake and buildings at Whinfell Forest Center Parcs

If you don’t want to fly, consider somewhere with plenty of indoor entertainment in Britain.

Center Parcs is at its cheapest in January and you can spend all day in the pool if it is raining.

Or try a city break because the coastal resorts have shut down – how about York which has several indoor museums – Our 10 tips for visiting York with children.

Where do you like to holiday in January, let us know in the comments!