I’m generally not a fan of Airbnb (especially after our regrettable experience in Israel), but we had a good experience in Gran Canaria with renting a house for a week.
Our Airbnb Experience In Gran Canaria, Spain
Airbnb is a popular target of scorn amongst travel bloggers and this is often justified. Personally, I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences with the service and I also find the added fees tacked on to bookings make Airbnb far less of a deal versus a hotel.
My sister-in-law actually arranged this booking and our trip was supposed to take place in December 2020. We figured the Canary Islands would be a nice escape from the waves of COVID-19 hitting the USA as well England and Germany (where my wife’s side of the family lives). That trip was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns and thankfully the host, Pilar, let us rebook to August 2021.
We chose this house because it had four bedrooms (eight beds total) with three bathrooms, a full kitchen, plenty of parking, and a swimming pool. These days, it looks to be as cheap as $125/night, though the rate varies based upon the season and it was closer to $300/night for our stay (still a good deal considering the space and privacy we had).
Gran Canaria is not the largest of the Canary Islands, but is quite large and our house was located in San Nicolas de Tolentino, which is still in Las Palmas, but a good 45 minute drive from either direction (a ring road encircles the island).
We were fairly isolated, though I must rue that we are awakened every morning at sunrise by roosters in the area. Earplugs did the trick, though I was happy for the “local alarm” and would get up and complete my work before others awakened. The days were hot, the mornings cool.
Below are some pictures from our stay. The interior pictures are from Airbnb. We arrived at 1:00AM and everyone just went to bed. By morning, everyone was unpacked and my own pictures of the bedrooms, bathrooms, and indoor common areas included too much clutter.
Like so many homes in Europe, the doors lock from the inside as well as the outside. On two occasions we locked ourselves out whilst sitting in the backyard. Thankfully, the host was just a phone call and short ride away. Pilar was wonderful. I still think those doors are tremendous safety hazards.
This stay restored my willingness to rent using the Airbnb platform. We had a nice house which proved to be a suitable base, even though it was on the other side of island. There are many all-inclusive hotels on Gran Canaria, but I would always choose a house over something like that.
My generation (younger millennials and “techies”, 1990s-born) has this unshakeable loyalty to AirBnB to the point where they don’t look at any other lodging options, typically. This despite AirBnB having 0 loyalty initiatives…
I will say that at the point a group trip needs multiple hotel rooms, AirBnB typically allows for a lot more flexibility for number of people. (At the extreme end, this was 50+ college students in a “weekend retreat” house…) But hotel loyalty programs created an insane amount of loyalty payback during the pandemic, and now this millennial is hooked on Hyatt, and to a lesser degree, maybe chasing Marriott Lifetime Platinum for 4 p.m. checkout & “free” breakfast
AirBNB very often gives much more value compared to a hotel.
I read your reviews of nice hotels that charge 300-600$ pet night, and almost always you could get AirBNB for a quarter of the price, with much more space. As a family the space of a 2 bedroom apartment beats the fanciest hotel room, as well as most suites.
A hotel gives lots of services I don’t need, and a breakfast I enjoy but is already overpriced.
Loyalty programs are for travel bloggers.
Normal people will never get enough stays to get significant status and value. Not on the scale of saving AirBNB gives.
Unless the host cancels on you. It did on the day of arrival for me. I was the forced to cancel( to get my money back), because the host is not allowed to cancel. And since I was forced to cancel, I could not write a review about the experience. Don’t trust the ratings. And of course AirBnB had no support. Absolutely sh!tty customer service. Rock bottom.
A couple of comments. It is great you found a owner/manager allowing your family to rebook. I looked at several like properties in 2020 and 2021. Not one would allow a rebooking related to COVID (or anything else for that matter) with one exception. The exception was an USVI property, during ‘hurricane season’, where I was told I could reschedule if affected by a hurricane pending availability, but no refund.
For June, I tried to book a couple of Airbnbs in Europe. Airbnb required an official ID, i.e. driver’s license or passport, as well as a selfie, uploaded, prior to finalizing the transaction. There was no way I was uploading an unredacted ID to some bot. I was in touch with one of the owners/managers and he/she wrote that these were Airbnb’s rules. I ended up using VRBO without issue.
Does anyone know of any other reputable sites for vacation rentals in Europe
¿Tu casa es mi casa?
We made lifelong friends with our farm stay style indiana airbnb hosts in April 2020. Have been back on a ton of occasions. It’s a little like roulette but I’d say our family’s air bnb stays have been super positive (especially if you don’t sweat the small stuff).
We booked a house in Italy next week for a fortnight but through a company. I think they just charge 5-10% to manage air bnbs but I think the premium is worthwhile in the event the particular property isn’t up to standard.
On a similar note Americans will love a location, the beautiful pool and wonderful hosts… but will rate a property 3/5 because “the towels were old”
I stayed in hostels when travelling when young so a bit of mould wouldn’t phase me
Airbnb in a rural area like the one described above vs a global city are essentially different discussions. The experience in a rural area often cannot be replicated by a hotel – there often are none. Airbnb provides access to the area with little/no displacement of a local population. Neither of those are true in global city. You are displacing local population and increasing rents. Full stop. Don’t try to convince yourself that you are not. You are rarely gaining access with airbnb to segments of a global city that cannot be replicated by a hotel. Most the marginal savings from airbnb in a global city are related to poor compliance with local, often quite costly, regulations and occupancy tax that fund services in the city you are visiting. Airbnb should be for farmhouses only.
Ok, I’ve gotta say this:
Gran Canaria is the name of the island. 3rd largest by surface area in the Canary Islands, 2nd by population.
Las Palmas city (actually called “Las Palmas de Gran Canaria”) is the capital of Gran Canaria. With a population of circa 400,000, it’s the largest city in the Canary Islands, and the 7th/8th largest city in the whole of Spain.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is also the co-capital of the Canary Islands, together with Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Tenerife is the largest island in the Canaries and has a population of circa 1M, similar to Gran Canaria island. Tenerife is also the home of Mount Teide, the tallest mountain in Spain (12,200 ft / 3,718 m).
Gran Canaria has 21 incorporated municipalities. San Nicolás de Tolentino, on the northwest of the island, is one of them. It is *not* a suburb of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. That is why it’s a 45+ minute drive from the city centre (on a quiet day with no traffic). It’s in a rural (albeit beautiful) area, past Agaete and next to seaside cliffs & virgin beaches, far from the more touristy areas in the south of the island — Maspalomas and Playa del Inglés are 1h30m away by car.
The more you know…
You could also add that the circular motorway mentioned in the article only covers around two thirds of the circumference; the western, barren side is pretty much motorway-free. Tenerife will finish its full ring road motorway long before Gran Canaria does.
Thanks Mike. Very helpful. Appreciate this comment.