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Not all Airbnb rentals are created equal and finding the right vacation rental has a lot to do with choosing a great host. Honing in on a reliable, responsive Airbnb host can provide you with peace of mind and make the entire booking and rental process as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. But in order to find a staggeringly good rental, you need to know exactly what you’re looking for. Here at Pillow, we’ve compiled a list of tips for finding a great host and the ultimate rental.

Get Your Priorities Straight

A whopping 17 million people booked with Airbnb in summer 2015 alone – that’s growth of 353x in just five years. With over 2 million listings and 640,000 hosts on Airbnb, it can be difficult to know where to start. But finding a property doesn’t have to be like searching for a needle in a haystack. First, ask yourself the following questions: What are you looking for in a rental? Are you prepared to compromise size for location? What amenities are must-haves? Which home comforts can you live without? Once you’ve determined the type of property you are looking for, filter your search results accordingly. You might even want to rank factors such as cleanliness, facilities, location, and privacy out of five before wading through hundreds of search listings.

Read the House Rules

House rules are shared by hosts to help set expectations. That means if a host asks you to not smoke in a property or have visitors after a certain time, you need to respect their wishes. Unfortunately, some house rules seem longer than “War and Peace,” a long list of dos-and-don’ts that sap the fun from finding the perfect rental. If you’re interested in a property, read the rules and see if they are something you can get on board with. If not, look elsewhere. Airbnb doesn’t allow a host to impose any further rules once you’ve booked a room so if you’re happy with what’s being asked of you, you’ll be good to go.

How to Spot a Good Host

Finding a good host isn’t difficult, but you’ll be surprised at how many people make simple mistakes when searching for short term rentals online, especially if you read some of the Airbnb horror stories. Read the listing thoroughly – from start to finish. And check out the reviews left by previous renters – they’re there for a reason. Do you notice any patterns? Do they mention what a pleasure it was to stay with this host? And does the host take the time to respond to any negative reviews, stating they’ve addressed or fixed the source of their complaints? These are all signs that help determine if a host is thoughtful and cares about your stay.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, contacting a host can also be useful when narrowing down your property search. Airbnb’s messaging system enables you to ask questions about a property if something’s not crystal clear in the listing. Need to clarify your check-out time? Looking for info about the nearest bus stop or train station from a property? Don’t be afraid to ask before you travel. A good host will provide you with helpful information in a speedy reply. A strong sign that you’ll have a responsive and available host during your stay is a host who’s quick to respond to your pre-booking inquiries.

Searching for the best vacation rental for your trip might sound like a long and laborious process, but once you determine what you’re looking for, read the house rules and start communicating with a reliable host, you’ll be well on your way to finding an incredible Airbnb location.

by Michelle Giuliano

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