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Tips on booking an Airbnb in Rome

**If you’re looking to book an airbnb for the first time, use this link to get £20 off your first trip

Mark and I are heading to Rome this weekend to celebrate my 30th birthday.

I’ve spent hours reading city guides and Google restaurant reviews, talking to friends about recommendations, and booking tours. So needless to say I’m pretty excited about it.

And because we always use Airbnb when we travel, this time was no exception.

We’ll be staying in a lovely one bedroom flat with a small terrace in the heart of Trastevere. You can see it for yourself here.

Truth be told, booking an Airbnb in Rome has be nothing short of a nightmare. We’ve learned some lessons from this experience that I’d like to share. Regardless of whether you’re staying in Rome, these tips will come in handy to ensure you have the best Airbnb experience possible (with no nasty surprises).


Rule #1 – You must read listings in FULL before you book

A common sense rule, but even I have failed to do this. YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST read the listing in full before you proceed to payment.

Many of the hosts I encountered in Rome had house rules or conditions that were tucked away (read: not clear and visible) in their listing.

Watch out for late check in fees, or anything where the host asks you to pay cash on site. This is against Airbnb’s T&Cs, and if any cash is transacted outside of Airbnb then you as a guest aren’t protected.

Rule #2 – Watch out for cancellation policies

There are 3 cancellation policies within Airbnb (strict, moderate, flexible). Watch out for strict cancellation policies. Even if you book and then cancel a month in advance, you will still only be refunded 50% of the booking cost. Ouch.

Rule #3 – Don’t use instant book

When a host has a lightening bolt next to their listing (like below), that means you can book it without ever having to interact with the host. It’s meant to be a quick transaction feature so you can book like you would a hotel.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 22.31.24

The thing about instant book is that hosts don’t always use it properly or honour it.

For instance, when we booked our first flat in Rome, we used the instant book feature. We paid in full, including all Airbnb fees. After which, the host messaged us to say we couldn’t stay in her flat because she was reserving it for guests who were paying for 4 nights as opposed to 3.

This information was laid out in her profile, however, once the instant book feature is turned on, there’s nothing stopping you from booking it. We then had to cancel the booking, only we didn’t know this next, very important lesson…

Rule #4 – Under no circumstances should you cancel the booking if the host has done something wrong

Make them do it instead.

Like the example above where the host didn’t honour the instant book we made, if anything is wrong with your listing or your host, notify them of the issue right away and see if you can come to a resolution. If you can’t, advise them that you do not wish to stay in their place, and request that they cancel the booking themselves.

Do not cancel the booking. Once you cancel it, you may be charged a cancellation fee (based on the host’s policy), and Airbnb will keep the booking fee you paid. You will then have to fight with Airbnb to get your money back. Sad but true.


You all know how much I love Airbnb. So this post isn’t an attempt to dissuade you from using the service. Rather, I want you to use it and get the best out of it. So please let me know if you have any questions about booking or hosting on Airbnb. Write them in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer them.



  1. Hi Brooke, my name is Enrico and I totally agree with you.
    Is could be seems strange ’cause I’m a Airbnb host 🙂 but yours tips are useful for all, guests and hosts.
    Yes I’ve my “instant book” but the normal behaviour I use when I travel is ASK ASK ASK … check & verify …
    My personel tip: always compare different booking networks to seek better conditions and if description is coherent. For instance my property is on Airbnb, HomeAway and some times the price I apply is different.
    If you want … looking for PETRAPAPAE
    Ciao da Roma, Enrico

  2. Janine Janine

    After I booked and got the exact address, I saw it was next to a cemetery. Not happy, should have been disclosed.

    • Sorry to hear you’re unhappy with your booking Janine. Personally I found the streets of Rome to be like one giant museum, and I can imagine the cemetery beside your airbnb booking would be very grand and antiquated. But if you’re unhappy about it, you should message your host to let them know. You can also message airbnb directly and tell them you’re unhappy that this wasn’t disclosed. I imagine they might say “too bad”, but always worth asking, they usually can be pretty accommodating. What is it about it being next to a cemetery that bugs you? Creepiness factor? Ghosts? Bad vibes? What’s the general location of your airbnb booking? I’d be interested to see if I recognize the area and can feedback on it. Thanks for your comment. -Brooke

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