Asking an Airbnb host a question is an excellent way to learn what kind of host they will be and can determine what kind of experience you will have staying in an Airbnb. This is particularly important for remote workers who stay in Airbnb rentals for extended periods while traveling.
While you can look at star ratings and guest reviews (and you definitely should), not all guests leave reviews. Also, Airbnb doesn’t allow reviews from guests who booked but canceled due to host interactions or had the host cancel on them.
I recently asked a host if the front door code was changed for each new guest because I was worried about security. The host responded with bizarre and rude comments before he demanded that I cancel my reservation.
Luckily, Airbnb’s customer service reviewed the message exchange, graciously refunded the non-refundable reservation in full, and gave me an additional coupon for my rebooking. In the end, I was grateful that I learned how erratic the host was before ever arriving at his property.
If a host is rude or disrespectful before you even arrive, imagine what they will be like if you need their assistance because something is broken or not working.
Besides helping you to get to know your potential host, asking questions will help you determine if a listing is right for your travel plans. It’s your hard-earned money so make sure you are getting the value you deserve.
What to do before you message your Airbnb host
Before you contact an Airbnb host you’ll want to review all of the information already available to you. You’ll avoid annoying the host if they’ve already answered your question in the listing. If you plan to ask an Airbnb host for a discount you’ll want to tread carefully when choosing your questions.
You may also discover some details buried in the listing that make the property unappealing so you can avoid wasting your time contacting the host.
The longer a host has been around, the more time they will have had to update their listings with answers to frequently asked questions. But with so many new Airbnb hosts popping up, many of them have not yet had enough guest questions to understand what details are important.
Before you contact an Airbnb host do these things:
Read the entire listing.
I read the listing twice before ever contacting the host. You can see if it is a good fit before you waste your time (and the host’s) messaging them.
You can also make sure the questions you want to ask aren’t already answered in the listing. Most hosts put a lot of effort into writing their listings. Be respectful and take the time to read through the entire listing.
Look at all the photos.
You can often find the answers to your questions in the photos.
Read the guest reviews
If enough guests have stayed at the property and left reviews, you’ll find at least one person who left a complaint. Those people may just be overly critical or their complaint may be legitimate and a deal breaker for you.
Reading guest reviews is essential for getting an accurate idea of what to expect. Read at least 30 reviews, especially the bad reviews where hosts have responded with their own comments.
Just remember that old reviews may not accurately reflect the current listing conditions. Hosts may have already fixed the things that guests didn’t like.
Read and reread the cancellation policy.
Understand the cancellation policy before you commit and book. Some listings will allow cancelations with full refunds until right before your stay, but others are non-refundable.
Check the final price to see what fees are added
Airbnb is making an effort to be more transparent about the final price of your booking. Still, it is important to remember the nightly fee is not what you will actually be paying per night. Make sure you look separately at the cleaning fee, service fee, pet fee, and taxes since these can significantly increase the final price of your rental.
How to Ask An Airbnb Host a Question
Scroll down to the bottom of the listing until you find the “Hosted by” section. Click on the “Contact Host” button and use the Airbnb messaging app to send your question. This sends a text message to the host to notify them that they have a guest message waiting to be read.
Questions to ask an Airbnb host before booking your Airbnb stay
Be intentional about what you ask your host to determine if the property is right for you.
If you are trying to book an Airbnb for a month or more or plan to eventually ask an Airbnb host for a discount be careful about asking too many questions.
Coming across as paranoid can be a red flag for some hosts. Hosts don’t want high-maintenance Airbnb guests for a month and are even less likely to agree to a discount. Remember, Airbnb hosts are screening and choosing guests as well.
Here are the potential questions you could ask your Airbnb host:
“Is the DOOR CODE changed for each guest? What other SECURITY measures are in place?”
Many hosts are now using keyless door locks that require codes. Surprisingly, some hosts do not change the codes for every guest so past guests could still have access to the property and your belongings. For example, this Airbnb guest was robbed when someone broke in with an old code.
While Airbnb encourages hosts to change codes between guests, it doesn’t yet require them to do so. Think twice about booking if a host doesn’t change the code between guests.
You may also want to ask about any other safety measures your host has in place, especially if you are a solo female traveler.
“If there were any BAD REVIEWS what happened?”
If after reading the listing reviews you find one that concerns you but you really want to stay at the property ask the host to explain what happened.
“What is the INTERNET SPEED?”
Decent wifi and internet speed are essential for remote workers. If you need the internet for work, explain that to the host and ask about the internet speed and any limits on usage.
Airbnb has a new feature that allows hosts to test their wifi speed and post it on their listing. You can ask a host to verify their wifi speed with this tool.
“Are there any VIDEO CAMERAS?”
Good hosts will specify in the listing if and where there are video cameras on the property.
It is reasonable and common for hosts to have Ring doorbells and outdoor security cameras to protect the property since it may sometimes sit empty. You may still want to know when and where you will be watched.
If there are any cameras inside the property you may want to think twice about booking.
“What is your VISITOR POLICY?”
If you plan to have visitors over you can ask your Airbnb host about their visitor policy. Some hosts won’t care but others will charge a fee for visitors, especially if they stay overnight.
Your host may be more reluctant to allow visitors if you are renting a room in their house rather than a private place with a separate entrance.
“Are there LAUNDRY FACILITIES? If they aren’t in the unit, how far away are they?”
Laundry facilities in or near the Airbnb property may be key to your comfort, especially if you are staying in Airbnb rentals long-term.
“Where can you PARK and how secure is it?”
If you have a car you may want to be sure there is a secure place to park, especially in urban areas where parking may be limited or where break-ins are common.
“What are the NEIGHBORS like and is there a lot of NEIGHBORHOOD NOISE?”
For some light sleepers, neighborhood noise and activity will be a big deal, especially if you are traveling for work.
You may also want to know if the hosts are living on the property or in the next-door unit.
“What is in the KITCHEN?”
Many people book Airbnbs so they can cook and save money on eating out. You don’t want to choose a listing with a kitchen only to find there are no pots, pans, utensils, or dishes. This traveler reported arriving at a 3 bedroom, 3000 sq ft Airbnb in Atlanta only to find it had only 2 plates, very few utensils, and not much to cook with.
If a listing doesn’t specify the kitchen has what you need then ask the host what is available. If you plan to shop before arrival, you may want to ask about spices and oils in the pantry to avoid an additional trip to the store.
“Is the property SINGLE LEVEL or are there STAIRS? Is there an ELEVATOR?”
Airbnb guests with disabilities may want to know what floor the listing is on, if there is an elevator, or if the Airbnb property is single-level.
“Is there enough HOT WATER for all your guests to shower?”
While hot water is not a problem in most urban areas of the US, many countries have limited hot water. If your party has multiple guests, timing your showers for the hot water may impact your stay.
“Are there enough TOWELS AND SHEETS?”
Surprisingly, some Airbnb hosts don’t provide bath towels or only have a limited number available. If your family of 4 is staying in an Airbnb property that only provides 2 towels you may need to plan ahead and bring your own.
If you plan to stay longer than a week may want to ask about extra sheet sets. It can be annoying to try to wash a single sheet set in time for sleep, especially if there is no washer/dryer easily available.
“What is the BED SIZE?”
It is not always clear from the pictures or listings how big the bed is. In some properties “queen beds” may only be two twins pushed together.
“Are ready there CLEANING SUPPLIES available?”
Some hosts list chores they expect you to do before checkout but don’t specify if they are providing cleaning supplies. You may also want to ask if other essential supplies are provided like garbage bags, dish soap, sponges, and toilet paper.
“What are their rules regarding PETS and PET FEES?”
If hosts allow you to bring your dog but your dog isn’t good with other animals, consider asking if there are other dogs or animals on the property. We once stayed at a place where the owner’s dog came over and hung out on our couch all day.
Airbnb recently updated their search experiences so that when you book you indicate if you are bringing pets to help filter the listings. The host can see how many people and pets will be staying from the moment you book. It can sometimes be unclear if pets are included in the price of the rental since many hosts haven’t updated their listings to reflect the way Airbnb now charges pet fees.
You may want to reach out to the host ahead of time to ask about any pet fees and avoid misunderstandings. Make sure to read Deskless Nomad’s Complete Guide to Bringing Your Dog or Other Pet to an Airbnb.
“What are the LOCAL LAWS or HOA RULES?”
Rather than asking the host directly, you may want to do some research online about the legalities of Airbnb properties at your destination.
Some cities require hosts to register or obtain a permit or license. While it is the host who will be fined if there is a problem, you don’t want to have to scramble for alternative accommodation at short notice.
Questions to ask your Airbnb host before you leave for your trip
Once you have paid for your booking most hosts will usually be happy to answer additional questions about the property and location. Some hosts will provide guest guides online or at the property to answer many of these questions.
Remember, hosts may not respond in time if you wait to ask at the last minute.
Always contact the host via the Airbnb messaging system. This sends a text message to your host’s phone and provides a record that Airbnb can review if you have any issues.
You may want to ask about an alternative way to contact the host if you encounter problems but the host doesn’t respond through the messaging system in a timely manner. They may not even live locally and will direct you to contact a property manager.
Questions you should always ask before leaving on your trip if the host hasn’t already provided the information:
- How do you find the property and entrance?
- How and when do you check in?
- Who do you call if you arrive and something isn’t working? (Like the door keypad, lights, showers, and heating)
Other questions you may want to ask to help plan your trip:
- What is around the property? (Grocery stores, sports gear rentals)
- Are there cafes, shops, restaurants, or streets they recommend or tend to avoid?
- Where is the nearest access to public transportation?
- Are there spices, cooking oil, and basic cleaning supplies in the kitchen?
- Do they have any games or other distracting activities for kids?
- Are toiletries and towels provided?
Questions to ask an Airbnb host before leaving the property
Some hosts provide a list of cleaning chores they expect you to complete even when they charge cleaning fees. Luckily, Airbnb is now making an effort to provide guidance to hosts on what checkout requests are considered reasonable. If a host doesn’t specify any chores it may still be a good idea to ask them through the Airbnb app what chores they expect in order for you not to be charged additional cleaning fees.
Always message over the app to provide documentation for Airbnb if you ever have to dispute additional fees.
I also recommend always taking pictures or a video of the way you left the property.
You can and should contact any potential host to ask at least one question before submitting your booking request. How the host responds is likely to be reflective of your future stay at a vacation rental. It is one of the best ways to see what kind of host they will be. Additionally, interacting with an Airbnb host before you book is an important way to help avoid Airbnb scams.
Read the listing and reviews in full before contacting the host. Be selective with your question(s) to avoid annoying the host but still make sure the listing is right for you.
If you liked this article, check out more Pro Tips You Should Know Before Booking Your Next Airbnb. To save money on your next trip, check out these tips for saving money on Airbnb rentals.