Losing my Airbnb virginity to the cutest apartment in Berlin.

Though I’ve been registered on Airbnb since 2014, it wasn’t until my recent trip to Berlin that I first used the accommodation booking site. My reluctance to use it prior to this stemmed from worries about sharing a space with a stranger, combined with a fear of staying with someone who I didn’t like/who I didn’t get on with/who creeped me out. It’s these same hesitations that mean I’ve never stayed in a hostel either.

The majority of my trips abroad as part of my “30 before 30” challenge have involved hotel stays (and those that haven’t have been when I’ve stayed with friends). I usually go for a 3 star hotel that’s well-rated on TripAdvisor (like the Kissos Hotel in Cyprus), though sometimes I push the boat out and go 4 star, if I can find a cracking deal (or get it free, like I did in Budapest).

Hotel stays push up the cost of a trip though, especially when you’re a solo traveller and have no one to split the cost with (it’s one of the few downsides of travelling on your own that I’ve encountered, but something you have to put up with, unfortunately). So, even if you find a super cheap flight, the cost of accommodation can mean a budget getaway becomes quite pricey.

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And that’s exactly what happened to me after I found a £15 Ryanair flight to Berlin.

Having not worked since I had to quit my job and move back down south in April, I had no money coming in during May and June. After three trips to Cyprus, Mexico and Jordan in the space of just six weeks, I was pretty much flat broke. I budgeted £60/day for my trip to Berlin, including accommodation, but couldn’t find anywhere to stay that was central and within my price range.

Then I remembered this little thing called Airbnb…

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What is Airbnb?

If you’re not familiar with Airbnb, put simply, it’s a room booking website.

As with any other booking site, like Hotels.com or Booking.com, Airbnb allows prospective travellers to search for somewhere to stay by selecting the dates they want to travel, where they’re travelling to and the facilities needed once they get there.

The difference between Airbnb and other booking sites though, is that the places on offer are not hotels, hostels or serviced apartments – they tend to be rooms in the flats and houses (or sometimes the entire home) of ordinary people who are looking to make a few bob by renting out a spare room. Once registered as a host, they can set a price per night for the room, upload pictures of their humble abode, and even set rules (such as “no smoking” or “females only”).

Some hosts ask guests to send a request first so they can vet them before allowing them into their home (which is what Maya did with me), while others accept instant bookings. And then once the stay is over, both the guest and the host write reviews for each other, which are then displayed on the property’s listing page and the guest’s profile.

The site first launched in 2008, after two of its founders decided to put air beds in their San Francisco loft and offer them up to travellers (so now you know where the name comes from). Since then it’s grown exponentially, covering 65,000 cities in more than 190 countries. Over 200 million people have booked a trip using the site, and there are 3 million Airbnb listings worldwide. One of which is Maya’s “cute masionette in Berlin“…

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I actually originally found Maya’s apartment included in a list of the best Airbnbs to rent in Berlin. It was conveniently located and only £36/night, so it seemed like fate when I clicked through and found there was availability for the dates I was in Germany. As my flight was only three days away, rather than dithering about my concerns of sharing a space with a stranger, I quickly sent her a message requesting to book.

A reply the following day said it would be fine to stay there, and payment was taken. We had a quick conversation about my time of arrival, collection of the keys and things like toiletries and towels. Being an Airbnb virgin, I wasn’t 100% sure on processes and etiquette, so it was great to get confirmation from Maya beforehand.

“Checking in” to the Airbnb.

After touching down in Berlin, with the help of my new plane friend Megan and the City Mapper app, I took the train from the airport to Prenzlauer Berg, then collected the apartment keys from the safe place Maya had arranged.

Walking up the six flights of stairs in Maya’s building (which is a beautiful old town house, built in the 1800s) to the top floor, I got slightly nervous as I put the key in the lock. It felt weird to be entering someone’s home with them not there, and doubly weird to enter the home of a complete stranger with them not there. I even knocked tentatively before I turned the key, just in case someone was there.

But then, as I pushed open the front door of the apartment and walked into the most beautiful living space I’ve ever seen, I knew I’d made the right decision to go with an Airbnb rather than a hotel…

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With its dark, shiny parquet flooring, white washed walls and wooden-clad beams, the living room was light, airy and minimalist. So minimalist that I immediately noticed there was no TV. Not that it mattered – I don’t really watch TV when I’m at home, let alone when I’m away – but I think I’m just used to all living rooms having tellies in.

Around the room there was an eclectic mix of mismatching furniture (that ironically all seemed to go together), soft furnishings with pretty ethnic patterns and loads of cool, quirky artifacts, which I later found out were collected through my hosts own travels.

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Crossing the living room, I took the wooden stairs up to see the room I’d be staying in.

Maya had described it as a “masionette” on the listing, but I think mezzanine is a more accurate description, as the room was accessed from the living room, and didn’t have a door. The lack of door wasn’t really an issue for me, though climbing the stairs got me a bit nervous – I always panic I’m going to put my foot through stairs like this.

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Safely up, I took in the room – it was right in the top of the building, a conversion of a loft space, so it had sloping ceiling under the eaves. This wasn’t particularly a problem as I’m only 5ft1 – but some taller guests may struggle, especially with the bed and clothes hanging rail being tucked under the sloping roof.

The space was absolutely gorgeous though, as you can see. Clean white washed walls and four Velux windows meant it was extremely light and airy, and being right at the top of the building meant it was quiet.

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The views out the windows were beautiful, but what I was more excited about were all the little homely touches Maya had provided. Some sweets on top of my clean towels, a handwritten welcome note with the wifi password, a basket of maps, pamphlets and snacks, and a little wash bag filled with toiletries and essentials.

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After I’d unpacked my luggage (which didn’t take long considering I only had my small carry on bag), I went downstairs to get a drink and take a shower.

Maya had messaged to ask if I’d arrived ok, then mentioned that the bottle of water in the fridge was for me, which was kind and thoughtful. The kitchen (which is open plan to the living room) was just as quirky as the rest of the apartment:

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Perhaps the nicest thing about being in someone’s house rather than a hotel was that the bathroom was a proper functioning bathroom. It was a decent size with lots of space (unlike the “hotel” I’d stayed in in Jordan, where I could use the toilet, brush my teeth and have a shower all in the same 2ft square), with good plumbing and it was really clean.

I loved all Maya’s little personal touches to the room, such as the silver gilded frame and the silver canisters.

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“Checking out” of the Airbnb.

As you can see, the apartment was absolutely gorgeous and suited my needs perfectly. The sun-filled attic room was beautiful and Maya was an accommodating host.

Unfortunately my stay there ended sourly when I was late back to collect my bag after trying to help a friend in need (the full details are included in my post about what travelling has taught me, in case you’re curious). The bad ending to the trip resulted in her leaving me just two words of feedback on the Airbnb site: “nice person”.

While not a bad review, I found this a little rude given that I had been a polite, clean and quiet guest. I popped my Airbnb cherry in this apartment, so was very conscientious of being a good guest. I wanted that to be reflected in my profile, in case I should ever use an Airbnb again. Instead it’s left me doubting whether I will..

I didn’t want my feelings about the situation to stop me from sharing the beautiful Airbnb apartment with you though, as I would still recommend her place as somewhere to stay if you’re a female solo traveller in Berlin.

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96 thoughts on “Losing my Airbnb virginity to the cutest apartment in Berlin.

    1. Thanks for your comment Michelle – this apartment was beautiful and a decent price. But like you I know plenty of people who have tried Airbnb and love it (in fact I have several friends who only ever use it). What is it about it that puts you off? X

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    1. I know, every apartment in the building had one, they’re adorable ☺️

      This place had 5 stars and loads of reviews, all positive. And to be fair to Maya, without the drama at the end it would have been the best ever. But instead I left Berlin feeling crap and worried she’d give me a bad review, and the whole experience has kinda reaffirmed my reservations about using Airbnb again… 😒 x

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  1. What an adorable apartment. I love the modern eclectic feel to the apartment. The view was gorgeous too, and I’m a huge sucker for doors. I would have been staring at the blue ones for half the trip haha.

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  2. what a beautiful and charismatic place! I have never booked through Airbnb before, though I tried once before because of my short stay the host canceled it. I would definitely book Mayas apartment if I ever plan to visit Berlin 🙂 Great review!

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    1. Oh, that was a pain, although I know some hosts only take a minimum of 3 or 4 nights (which isn’t ideal if you want to be out exploring). How do you feel about Airbnb now though? Would you still consider it as an option for short stays? X

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  3. Including you, I know a lot of people use Airbnb since it’s cheap and they actually have great experiences! I mean it does look fun and cozy. Love the interior too. But I personally don’t think I will be looking for a room in airbnb as I feel like it will be uncomfortable.

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    1. My experience was mixed Claire – I liked the place I stayed, but I didn’t like the feeling of no freedom. So like you, I may not feel comfortable about booking one again x

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  4. I’ve been debating whether to use AirBNB when I have to go on trips abroad to see clients… But if that’s the sort of place you can find on there, there’s not much to debate! That looks like such a nice place to stay in!

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  5. I’ve only used air b and b once and that was renting out a whole apartment, I don’t think I’d like to share with strangers but if you’re travelling alone sometimes you need to x

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  6. We rent with Air B&B all the time and really love it – the apartment you got looks really nice. I love all the unique accommodation on there especially tree houses, cottages, and things!

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  7. Oh wow this looks like such a cute place. Shame you didn’t get better feedback though! I’m yet to use AirBNB but I know I will do at some point because it’s such a great idea. Like you said – a functioning homely bathroom is always a plus!

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    1. I know, I was a bit gutted about the feedback, and that’s why I’m two minds about using the service again… I won’t say “never again” though – the experience wasn’t horrendous x

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  8. It’s a shame she didn’t understand your situation and left such a short feedback for you. It is such a beautiful house tho. I’ve got major house envy now!
    I’ve never stayed in an Air B&B, I’ve looked a few times but always chicken out and book a cheap hotel.

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  9. I’ve actually used airbnb several times and thankfully have always had wonderful experiences, though I’ve been reading a lot of bad things lately about other people’s not so pleasant experiences. The house you stayed in certainly Looks very cosy, comfortable and most importantly clean. I know how you feel about being left a very curt feedback by the host, I had a similar experience where I actually went out of my way to ensure everything was cleaned up before checking out so that the host wouldn’t face too many issues but I just got a feedback saying ‘they were okay’! I’m still very happy to use airbnb for my future stays, I think it’s totally worth it!

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    1. Sounds like you’ve had some very positive experiences with Airbnb Medha, which I’m pleased to hear. Most people I know have had nothing but positive things to say about the service, but I still don’t know whether I’d be comfortable doing it again… time will tell… x

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  10. That apartment is super cute! I love air bnb and I have only had one bad experience and that was in New Orleans and we left immediately and checked in to a hotel.

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  11. This is something we have thought about doing, but just not been brave enough as yet. The place you stayed looks incredible a real home from home which for me is definitely a massive thumbs up

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    1. I was a bit worried about booking the Airbnb, I won’t lie – but I really needed to save as much money as possible, so I bit the bullet as this was the most affordable option for me x

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  12. Loved your Berlin loft apartment with Airbnb. I have used them before to go to London with my family and we stayed in a two bed app in Camden town. The photo’s are great and the apartment had great artistic flare. Great bargain!

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    1. I think staying in one in London would be a really smart idea – accommodation in the capital is sooooo expensive! Think I’d have to find one that let’s me rent the whole property though x

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  13. I’ve always thought it would be fun to stay in airbnb’s while traveling to get a more unique experience. It sounds like you’re only problem with the stay was the short review she wrote for you. After reading your post I wonder if you plan on using airbnb’s more regularly in the future or if you’re going to stick to hotels?

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Sierra – I am actually in two minds whether to use Airbnb again… I don’t like the lack of freedom I had with my Airbnb, in the sense that if I wanted to come back late, I didn’t feel like I could 😦 with a hotel you can come and go as you please, no questions are ever asked… maybe I should do a follow-up post on the pros and cons of Airbnb vs Hotels? 🤔 x

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  14. Never used airbnb before, still a little out of my price range at the moment so we try to stick to hostels, but hopefully one day we will use it! Such a lovely apartment!

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    1. Yeah that would be great if you could find an Airbnb that allows pets 🙂 It’s probably easier than taking the dog to a hotel, as although some hotels are pet friendly, you haven’t got a garden to let it out in etc x

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  15. I’d be rather nervous about trying airbnb, but I get the concept and all appears to be mostly good with your stay. Unforunate that it ended a little out of sorts though. I don’t think airbnb is for me. I prefer a little more freedom.

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  16. What a cute and clean place to stay. Your hostess was the best! I guess she gets good reviews on the site. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  17. This place looks so cool, I love the kitchen with the bench table. She covered all the necessities as well, which is a nice touch. Don’t worry about the review, it’s not bad and couldn’t be helped xxx

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  18. I have not used Air BnB before but I definitely think that it is a great alternative to hotels and I love how it feels more personal. Your accommodation was beautiful and great for the budget that you had x

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    1. I agree Ana – for the price it was I got a really nice place to stay. I’m not sure I’ll use Airbnb again though, as I don’t like not having the freedom to come and go as I please x

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  19. I would have been a nervous wreck but I think this a good idea for traveling on a budget. I loved the patio outside of the kitchen and could imagine spending a lot of time there. Sorry to hear that your trip did not end as good as it started.

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  20. I’m not sure I would have been as brave as you and used airbnb if travelling solo, but did use it for the first time recently in London when we went as a family. We had a bare to the bones basic terraced house, but the fact that it was super affordable and and that we had the entire house to ourselves (which was so helpful when travelling with children) made the experience very pleasant. Maybe you can try checking out other feedback and reviews to see if short and sweet is the norm? x

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    1. Thanks Yaya – that’s a really good point, I will take a look at the feedback Maya has left for other guests if I can, as it may be that that is just her nature – good thinking! x

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  21. I keep hearing fantastic reviews about air bnb places all over the world but for some reason I keep sticking to hotels. Maybe there is something about staying in other person’s place, I just prefer hotels.. But I should give it a try.

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  22. That is super cute! Was it cheaper/same amount/more expensive than if you went to a hostel? I have yet to try an Airbnb but so far, I still find hostels cheaper and scared of horror stories about Airbnb!

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    1. To be honest Justine, I don’t know how it compares to hostel prices as I’ve never properly researched them. I think someone would have to pay me to stay in a hostel, as the thought of sharing a room with a load of strangers (as well as sleeping in a bunk bed) really freaks me out lol! X

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  23. Omgoosh! Girl this Airbnb is so darn cute! i love staying in Airbnb’s rather than hotels, I feel more at ”home”! hope you had the most amazing time! Safe travels on your next adventures

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