The short of it is: anyone can advertise their apartment or house for rent anywhere in the world. You have a large range of photos to look thru, an online map showing where the stay is, amenities are listed and the 'Host' describes how far away the stay is from public transport, airport, etc. Depending on Country and time of year depends on your price per night. The following is my experience with Airbnb.
My sister and I took our time researching our accommodation. We knew we did not want a hotel. We each have 2 kids so we needed at least 2 bedrooms, washing machine, a kitchen and lounge area. We also needed to be in the middle of HK. At the end of a very loooooong day we did not need to then have to take a one hour train trip back to our apartment. We also needed to stay within walking distance of each other for easy meetup and communication. After several months of constantly checking Airbnb and Wimdu and emailing countless Hosts, we finally found Cathy who had several apartments scattered thruout HK, but had 2 apartments with 2 bedrooms each, in the SAME building on the SAME floor!
This was the view from my apartment. We were 3 floors above the Ladies Market in Mongkok. You can't get any more Central than that!
OK, to be perfectly frank......the apartment took a bit of getting used to. Yes, it was 2 bedrooms but the whole place was tiny! In fact, our bedroom was probably not much smaller than the whole apartment. The above was our shower. Yep, it's over the toilet. Apparently this is normal in Kowloon high rises. Funnily enough, we got used to that pretty quickly. If we forgot to put the toilet paper in a safe place then it was annoying, but overall having a removable shower head was very handy. The water drained very quickly and a quick wipe down of the loo afterwards was needed!
Next to that Burgundy couch was the door. A very skinny door. We had to pack up the pram to get it in. The burgundy couch held our suitcase and then there were the 2 small couches where The Sexy Man is lounging. (Sorry Sexy Man) If we wanted to eat on a table, we had to get it out from under the bed and set it up as there was no room in the apartment to have it setup permanently. We ate on our laps every night!
I have shown this photo in my first HK post, but it shows the kitchen. It came equipped with rice cooker, wok, steamer, dinner ware and cutlery. A washing machine was also under the bench.
And both the bedrooms had bunk beds. We knew this before booking as we saw the photos. The other apartments featured 'Queen' sized beds, but when we got out the measuring tape we realised that the HK version of Queen is actually an Australian King single! Way too small to hold 2 adults anyway.
The lowdown: Initially we were quite nervous to use Airbnb booking service. But they safety guarantee all credit card details and the money gets held with them until after the accommodation stay, and if everything went well, the money is then transferred onto the 'Host'. We also passed up several nicer looking units to stay with Cathy, who had dozens of positive and no negative feedback. Positive feedback was crucial to us and to allay our fears!
Cathy was there to meet us on the corner as we got out of our Taxi which was a huge relief! Has anybody seen the Ladies Market at 7pm?? It's absolutely CHAOTIC! Thousands of people, hawkers, food stalls, tourists.....argh! She took us up in groups as the lift was quite small. She settled us in, gave us a few tips, showed us where the supermarket and MTR was then left. We had no issues during our 10 day stay and didn't need to contact her. She also let us stay late on checkout day for no extra money as our flight home was a night one.
Within a 2 minute walk from our apartment was dozens of restaurants, a supermarket, convenience store, churros shop (!), Hello Kitty shops, taxi rank and MTR station Yau Mai Tei. And of course, the Ladies Market.
For the date of our stay we paid $120 AUD per night. Compared to a Family room in a standard rated Hotel, we saved about $60 AUD per night, at least, and then had our own bedrooms, etc. To stay a little further out in HK, near Lantau or on Hong Kong island, the prices were a lot cheaper and bigger in size. You could get a 3 bedroom apartment for around $100 a night.
I just wish I knew about this website 4 years ago on our first family trip to HK!
I have since used Airbnb to book accommodation for my Mother in Law who went to Singapore. She stayed in a boutique 2 bedroom apartment which was gorgeously furnished. She was ecstatic. I am also in the process of using Airbnb to book for our Thailand trip next year.
Anybody else used Airbnb or Wimdu?