I tried Airbnb for the first time, and now I'll never stay at a hotel again

I recently returned from a 12-day trip to Costa Rica with my boyfriend.

Since it was our first time there, I figured the best way to see the country and really get a feel for it was to split the trip into four different locations.

We stayed in each place for three nights, and I booked all of our accommodations through Airbnb, an online marketplace that allows people to book rooms or offer rooms around the world.

I had never used Airbnb before, but had heard good things from people who had, so I decided to give it a try.

My experience with the site was overwhelmingly positive, and I don’t think I’ll be booking a hotel again anytime soon. Here’s why:

The pictures of the listings are actually representative of that place.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDERThe beautiful casita we stayed at in Nosara looked just like the photos I saw on Airbnb.

All too often, travellers find that the photos on a hotel’s website are actually nothing like reality. When I arrived at each of the accommodations I booked through Airbnb, I found exactly what I was expecting. The photos I had looked at on the website resembled real life, which was refreshing.

It was nice to book all my accommodations through one platform.

Airbnb Costa Rica Trips ScreenshotAirbnbAll my reservations, conveniently listed in one place.

Instead of having to book four different hotels on four different websites, I did all of my booking on one website. That meant I used one credit card and that all my reservations were listed in one place, which made checking my itinerary for the trip very easy.

Plus, I didn’t have to send multiple emails or make multiple phone calls to ask people questions about my reservations. I could message all my hosts directly through Airbnb’s messaging system, so all my questions and answers remained in one place.

Having the ability to book a full apartment instead of just a room provided me with more flexibility and privacy.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDEROne of the pools that we had all to ourselves.

Three of the places my boyfriend and I stayed at during my trip were one-bedroom apartments, and one was a room at a bed and breakfast. The room at the b&b included breakfast, and the apartments had kitchens and cooking supplies so we could make or eat a quick breakfast there instead of having to eat out for three meals a day.

Sometimes, we even bought food to make lunch so we could pack a sandwich if we were planning on doing something like hiking that day. Had we been staying at a hotel, we wouldn’t have had the kitchen or the supplies to make food for ourselves.

Staying in an apartment also provided for more privacy. I wasn’t constantly surrounded by other guests or various hotel staff. A couple of the apartments we booked even had a pool, which we had all to ourselves.

Booking through Airbnb was cheaper.

Camino Verde Bed and Breakfast Monteverde Costa RicaKara H / TripAdvisorFree breakfast was just one of the amenities we got.

I ended up paying around $450 for my accommodations — the grand total was about $900, which I split with my boyfriend. Just from looking at prices for a couple hotels in the areas where I stayed, I’m pretty certain we would have ended up paying more money if I had booked through hotels, and we wouldn’t have ended up with anywhere near the space or amenities we got from staying at apartments. However, depending on where you’re staying, Airbnb might not always be the cheaper option.

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