Airbnb Etiquette — Rules of Engagement?

while in toronto i stayed with wendy (she’s a great host; i will be leaving A+++++ [to use an ebay term] feedback), who had a spare bedroom and bathroom. this was my first time using airbnb to stay with someone — previously i’ve stayed in a real b&b in amsterdam and rented an entire apartment in athens. the way her condo is laid out, there is a clear separation between the guest area and the rest of the house, which i think made interactions a bit more awkward since from the front door you can’t really see anywhere in the apartment, just hear people who may or may not have heard you come in. so i kept wondering:

  • are you supposed to say hi when you return and you can hear the host in another part of the house? are you supposed to say bye when you leave for the day? (i didn’t, mostly because i felt like i would be interrupting something, but in hindsight i probably should have just shouted out “bye!” or something…)
  • how much interaction are you supposed to have with them? (clearly this is dependent on your personality and that of the host, but are there proscribed rules of engagement?)
  • i didn’t have an occasion to use the kitchen or watch tv, but if they are specifically listed as amenities in the listing and they are not home (and haven’t talked about it previously), would it be weird to rummage around for pots and pans to make dinner or fiddle with their remotes to figure out how to work their tv setup? (i say yes, it would be weird; don’t touch!)

luckily wendy is a seasoned host so i think she’s seen the whole gamut of guests and always approached me (which was perfectly fine) to ask what i had planned or how my day went.

of course i’ve lived in communal situations before — dorms, apartments, shared houses, etc., but in this situation you are dealing with people you barely know, and you’re in their private spaces. of course they are opening them up to you as a guest, but still. i don’t think i’m the most socially awkward or inept person (i hope), but there is still something slightly taboo about it for me. on the other hand, i’m too frugal to pass up deals the likes of which you can find using this service!

in a couple months i will be staying for almost a week in a roommate situation in hamburg, where there are even more sociological complications brought on by the fact that i won’t have my own bathroom, so i guess we’ll see how that goes. wish me luck!

4 Comments on "Airbnb Etiquette — Rules of Engagement?"

  1. a friend of mine designed his beautiful beautiful flat (apartment) in London and runs it as an airbnb location. It’s a small place and has one bedroom, living area, kitchen and bathroom. It’s small but gorgeous (will send you the pics site privately if you ever want, amazingly created). He is away a lot or he is there. If he is there he stays in the living area on a sofa bed and you get the bedroom. if he is away you get the whole place. He lets one single person stay there only.

    I think he does it totally informally. If you don’t want to say anything to him that’s fine or if you want to have a conversation that’s great. He is an amazing person to speak to, and very involved in this towns gay history.

    In a hotel some people will speak to the staff a lot and some people never leave their rooms or speak to them. It’s what you want to do 🙂 You are paying the money, you can talk to them as much as you want I think ^_^ (p.s just found your travel blog and love it!)

    • Oh thanks!!!

      I love the way you phrased the situation as one between a consumer and seller. I guess it is up to me as someone who is paying for the service to decide how to handle it all.

      Your friend’s flat sounds amazing! And what a nice guy for taking the couch! I might have to get that info from you before my next trip to London (whenever that is), although there is no way he is going to sleep on the couch. He can have the bedroom and I’ll take the couch, thankyouverymuch!

  2. It does seem a little unemotional to say the business contract approach to the etiquette (I know its a little socially simplistic) but in law that is how its treated. its a contract. In the UK we have laws about non discrimination. You can’t turn someone away from your business (unless its a religious institution) and we had a case in the UK where a B n B was owned by extremely religious people. They turned down a gay couple from their place and they took legal action. The owners claimed they would turn down “any non married couple”. However they didn’t recognise civil partnership as a partnership anyway. They lost and lost the later appeal and the gay couple won but it focused on the contract of the accommodation heavily

    send you on FB details of friends place 🙂

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