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AirBnB favourites: Berlin, Amsterdam, Annecy & Hebrides

AirBnB favourites II: Berlin, Amsterdam, Annecy & Hebrides

I’ve always liked the freedom and flexibility you get from renting a house or apartment when you travel. And over the last couple of years AirBnB has taken over the self-catering world – there aren’t many destinations not covered on the site. It has its critics though, and like anything you need to be careful – make sure to check the reviews, always pay through the AirBnB site and never by bank transfer, and watch out for the cleaning and admin fees. I’ve luckily not had any bad AirBnB experiences, but the huge number of properties can be overwhelming – how do you pick a good one? A year ago I did a round up of my favourite AirBnB properties I’d stayed in. So I thought it was time for a second edition, this time including some great places I’ve tried out Berlin, Amsterdam, Annecy and the Hebrides over the last year.

p.s. If you’ve not yet signed up with AirBnB, you can save £30 on your first stay with this link.

More AirBnB favourites: Bergen, Strasbourg, Vienna & Praiano

Berlin, Germany

Apartment rentals come into their own when you’re going away as a group and want to hang out together without having to sit on someone’s bed. So for a winter trip to Berlin we picked an apartment in Mitte, a few minutes from Friedrichstrasse station. This area’s is right in the centre of the city so you can walk to the major sights – the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, museums and Berlin Wall. There are a few restaurants and shops close by too. The building dates back to 1836 and the apartment’s on the second floor. It sleeps up to six, with three bedrooms – two doubles and a twin – two bathrooms and a big kitchen with a dining table. The lounge also comes with the slightly unexpected addition of a pommel horse in case you want to try out your gymnastic skills! There’s also a small balcony so you’ve got a place to sit outside if the weather’s good. And inside was nice and warm even during a very chilly Berlin February.

What I loved: the pommel horse (a lot tougher than those Olympians make it look!).
What I didn’t: the area’s great for exploring but not so much if you’re looking for crazy nightlife.
The cost: four nights for four people in February cost £476 in total (£30 per person per night).

AirBnB in Berlin, Germany

The lounge (pommel horse included), kitchen and one of the double rooms

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Like in London and Paris, hotel rooms in Amsterdam can blow the budget, and I’d ended up stayed in some pretty uninspiring spots on previous trips. So this time I went for an apartment in the Jordaan district instead. It’s a great location close to the canals and 10 minutes from Anne Frank’s House, and there are plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants nearby but is still quiet so you don’t get disturbed. The apartment sleeps two, with a double bedroom and an open-plan kitchen and living area. It’s clean and modern inside with a mix of old and new furniture and a well-equipped kitchen (there’s a decent grocery shop in the parallel street). Outside there’s a courtyard area shared with the neighbouring flats – unfortunately it rained almost all the time we were in Amsterdam but it would be a perfect spot for a drink on a sunny evening.

What I loved: the fantastic location in Jordaan and the stylish design.
What I didn’t: the windows face the central courtyard so you do feel a bit exposed to any passing neighbours if you don’t have the blinds shut.
The cost: two nights for two people in September cost £217 in total (£54 per person per night).

AirBnB in Amsterdam, Netherlands

The central courtyard and open-plan lounge and kitchen

Annecy, France

With its mix of lakes, canals and castles, Annecy has to be one of France’s prettiest spots. And we couldn’t have found a better location than our apartment right at the heart of it (in the yellow building in the picture below). From high up on the top floor we could look out over the rooftops to the castle and snow-capped mountains in the distance. The apartment is open-plan and sleeps up to four people. There’s a kitchen-dining-living room with a comfy double sofa bed, and a separate double bedroom. You’re right in the centre of Annecy so it’s an easy walk to everything, with plenty of places to eat nearby. It’s also a 5-minute walk to a Monoprix supermarket if you want to stock up on food. Or there’s a market selling local produce like cheese and cured meats along the canals on Tuesdays, Fridays and weekends.

What I loved: the location and views over the old town, stunning by day and night.
What I didn’t: climbing up a ton of stairs to get those views – especially when you’ve got heavy bags.
The cost: six nights for four people in March cost £474 in total (£20 per person per night).

AirBnB in Annecy, France

The apartment building by the canals, and the lounge and bedroom

Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

My final pick is from the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The house is located in the tiny hamlet of Brue on the island’s west coast. The surroundings are gorgeous, with sea views and big panoramic windows to make the most of them. You’re 25 minutes from the main town Stornoway where you’ll find supermarkets and the airport. There’s also a great takeaway place, 40 North Foods, a few minutes away. The house has plenty of space, with a big kitchen-diner, a lounge and a snug with a TV. It sleeps up to 10, with four bedrooms – three doubles and a twin – plus a sofa bed. The master bedroom has an en-suite and there’s a big bathroom with a shower and roll-top bath (with a view), as well as a downstairs toilet. It’s really elegantly designed with a few quirky Scottish touches, like the antler light fittings. In summer there’s a fire pit and BBQ outside or in winter there’s a woodburner and warm blankets to snuggle up in.

What I loved: the cosy feel, having lots of room to spread out and those amazing views.
What I didn’t: not much, though the rural location means you really need a car to get around, and hiring one is quite pricey in the Outer Hebrides.
The cost: four nights for seven people in August cost £887 in total (£32 per person per night).

AirBnB in the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

The Hebridean house’s lounge, master bedroom and those gorgeous views

Do you have a favourite AirBnB rental you’d recommend?

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Recommendations for great self-catering places places to stay in using AirBnB in Bergen, Amsterdam, Annecy and the Outer Hebrides – ontheluce.com

Please note: Some images are courtesy of AirBnB but I’m not sponsored by them and booked and paid for all my stays myself.

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Ella
    August 25, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    I LOVE posts like these! Whenever I’m bored and feeling wanderlusty, I look up cool places to stay on AirBnb and daydream about the trips in these locations. I’ve been wanting to try AirBnB for years now and I finally get to in March. I’m saving this post for future daydreaming and potential booking 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      August 25, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      I have so many AirBnB wishlists too – definitely a good one for travel dreaming sessions (I’m eyeing up Scottish castles at the moment!). Hope the post comes in useful.

    • Reply
      Manuela
      September 19, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      I too live how these posts and images open up my world and are so accessible and personal!! Well done!

  • Reply
    the down route diaries
    August 25, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    I’m looking into Prague for a little break, I haven’t booked an Airbnb apartment but I would definitely consider it. Are you protected in case anything ‘goes wrong’?

    • Reply
      Lucy
      August 25, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      They have various policies to protect people (there’s some info here: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/standards) and I have heard of people who’ve had issues and they have found them somewhere else to stay (though I think it’s more likely in cases where people are renting rooms out rather than whole apartments).

  • Reply
    luxurycolumnist
    August 26, 2016 at 12:36 am

    I’ve still not got round to staying in an Airbnb but that Amsterdam pad looks incredible

    • Reply
      Lucy
      August 26, 2016 at 11:02 am

      There are some lovely places on there – though it does take a bit of weeding through sometimes to find the gems! The Amsterdam place was great through.

  • Reply
    Heyjude
    August 26, 2016 at 9:42 am

    All your lets look immaculate. Are they proper self-catering places or someone’s home? We stayed in one in Australia and found it a very odd experience as the flat was full of the owners’ personal stuff and we had nowhere to put our clothes (lived out of the suitcases for a week). We were also accused of ‘stealing’ a bottle of gin (we didn’t) and leaving marks on a white leather sofa (we barely stayed in the place other than sleeping). Bedlinen was worn and tired, towels thin and toilet badly stained. Though in the images on the website it looked quite a nice place. We also had to wash every item of cutlery and crockery we used as they smelled awful – the owners obviously did a lot of Asian cooking.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      August 26, 2016 at 11:02 am

      These were all dedicated rental places rather than someone’s home – I’ve stayed in one which wasn’t and did feel a bit odd with loads of their stuff about and having never met them! Generally I go for the proper self catering places which hopefully avoids some of the problems you had – sounds like a nightmare!

      • Reply
        Heyjude
        August 26, 2016 at 3:51 pm

        It has put me off using AirBnB but I might have another go and make sure it is a purely rental property. It is so easy in this country to book self-catering cottages etc. I wish it were the same elsewhere. Any tips for Barcelona Lucy? Thinking of going there for 4 days in mid – late October. I was reading your Seville posts too and that looks like a nice getaway at that time of year.

      • Reply
        Lucy
        August 29, 2016 at 11:01 am

        I’m afraid my Barcelona tips are well out of date as it’s been about 10 years since I last visited (must be time for another trip!). I actually hadn’t been back to Spain since then but have been four times in the last year and really got a taste for it now.

  • Reply
    Vlad
    August 28, 2016 at 10:49 am

    The Amsterdam apartment looks incredible, saving it for a future trip! My favorite Airbnb rental was the one I’ve stayed with in Praiano, it had an amazing view over the sea.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      August 29, 2016 at 11:02 am

      Loved our Praiano AirBnB too – those views are just fantastic. I have a whole AirBnB wishlist with some similar places in the Cinque Terre I’m hoping to get out to next year too.

  • Reply
    MummyTravels
    August 29, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    I really got into AirBNB since my daughter was born – so much easier with extra space. Quite a few have been people’s homes but I’ve found that OK for a short stay and have had some in great locations as well as just staying in a windmill! Beats a hotel 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      August 30, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      It’s great for groups so I can imagine it’d be good for kids too. Love the idea of a windmill!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Jones
    September 3, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Some really good finds here Lucy. The Annecy stay was really good value, despite the stairs. I’ve still not got around to staying with Air BnB but I get the feeling it won’t be long before I do.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      September 5, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      The Annecy place was lovely – I spent so much time watching the views out of the window!

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