Travel Tales: Our First Airbnb Experience in Singapore

Last year, hubby and I planned for our family’s first out of the country trip, we were looking for an affordable accommodation for our little family. Since hubby selected Singapore for our trip, the cost of living and accommodation can be expensive. To be able to maximize our trip and still have a budget in case we want to buy souvenirs and additional stuff. I start to scour online for an affordable hotel and/or accommodation. I even ask our friends based in Singapore if they knew someone who is renting out their place or knows an affordable hotel along the city centre. I came across Airbnb site which was also suggested by my cousin and friends who were based in Singapore.

Airbnb is the platform used by savvy travelers for home or room sharing across the world. It has been up for quite some time and I had to admit when I signed up and search for accommodation I get overwhelmed by number of properties it offers in Singapore. The cost of accommodation is a bit cheaper compared to staying in a hotel. Most travelers who tried Airbnb, that it is very different from the usual stay in a hotel and you feel the vibes of living like a local in a foreign place. It was our first time to try Airbnb and I must say that we were very satisfied (and happy too!).

Prior to our trip, I was scouring properties using Airbnb’s search and help tool. It is highly recommended that prior to reserving and looking for a property or room to rent out, make sure you read their FAQ and Help links to assist you in your reservation and take care of your online security. Once you read the FAQs, you start to search the platform for your desired space. You can search based on your travel dates, preferred location, costs and number of guests that will join you on your trip. What’s good about Airbnb is that when you search on your place of origin the cost are converted already in your currency. Another good feature of the platform is that you can decide the accommodation based on the guests feedback on the property. There is also a private messaging that you can use to inquire and ask questions on items that were not included in the property’s profile description.

We are only a small family, there are lots of affordable accommodation for us. We came across a condominium unit located in Kallang and I inquired with the host if the property is available on our desired dates and she replied after a few minutes. The condominium offers amenities such as children’s playground, garden pool, gym, small convenience store and even parking space (if you have car). The unit that we are eyeing we quite affordable because it was a shared unit. The listing offers a private room with private bathroom. It also offers breakfast. Our planned visit in Singapore is a full schedule with different itineraries each day, we only need a room to rest. After a few messaging with host, we reserved the room using credit card (it is the only available payment option for Philippines) and our host provided her contact numbers, address and direction going to their unit.

Upon arriving in Singapore, we use the MRT to go to Kallang via Stadium MRT Station and took our lunch at nearby Kallang Wave Mall for a quick fix of Singaporean dish. Our host was already waiting and told me that since she has errands later that day, we may proceed directly to their unit and her helper will accommodate us. We took a taxi at the mall because I was not familiar with the place plus we were too tired because of our very early morning flight.

The accommodation is just a short drive from the mall (according to our friendly taxi driver, you can reach it by walking), we were dropped at an affluent and upscale condominium building in Kallang. Hubby and I were a little bit confused with the tower and stack number but after a few minutes, we find the right unit. We called their intercom and their helper let us in the unit. The place is secured because outsiders are not allowed to enter the place if you don’t have a badge to tap in the door or someone inside who would open it for you.

When we arrived at the unit, it was a spacious three room apartment. The host’s helper ushered us in our room and provide us the keys and badge. The room was spacious and has a king sized bed as mentioned in the listing and pictures provided in Airbnb website. There are also welcome drinks, fruits and snacks waiting for us when we arrived, which for me is a nice touch and a nice gesture to welcome guests. While we unpack our stuff, the host arrived meeting us. Pals (our host) provided us a briefing and overview of their house rules. Her family has no problems with guests arriving late but we have to make sure that after 10:00 o’clock in the evening that it is already a quiet time and asked us on our preferred time when to serve our breakfast in the morning. She also provided us on their condominium amenities, showed us the private bathroom and the remote control for the air-conditioner and lights. After a quick chat and orientation, she left us in private so we can rest.  The room was stacked with books for adults and kids (which I love). Their bookshelf also contain useful information on contact details for taxi, attraction guides and house rules. There is also a LED TV in case we want to watch and unwind in the room. There are also chairs which you can hang out near the big windows overlooking a garden and pool.  Our unit is also a walking distance to a bus stop that drops you at the nearby Stadium MRT.

We stayed in the accommodation for four days and get to meet the rest of their family. Our host was a good one because not only they provided breakfast every morning (she even let us tried their Indian version of potato fritters – which is delicious) but also provided us local tips on the places we want wanted to see during our stay. My son also liked playing with our host’s daughter (they were of same age). Their family was very hospitable and accommodating, we feel like staying in a quiet and peaceful house. I was also touched that during my son’s birthday, our host and her family gave my son a present of Cadbury chocolate biscuits. Their helper was also nice and always smiling every time we arrive or preparing for our breakfast. In addition, even on our last day of stay, our host assisted us in getting a taxi before departing. The place is very quiet and peaceful. Going home every night is not a problem because the neighboring area is secured and safe. We also loved the place because it was near to Stadium MRT which is very accessible from city center and our planned itineraries. There is also a nearby mall (Kallang Wave Mall) and outdoor stadium (Singapore National Stadium), if you want to chill out at night before going home. We haven’t tried the swimming pool and gym (though we really wanted to use it) because we were out most of the time and arrived late at evenings so we are too tired to enjoy the condominium’s amenities.

Our overall stay in our first Airbnb was a memorable one. We deeply appreciate our host’s efforts in ensuring that we have a pleasant stay in their place and I get to learn about sharing a space with Singaporean local. Our family enjoyed interacting with a local and learning a lot of things in Singapore that you seldom find from checking in a hotel. It was a great experience for us plus we had fun in our Singapore trip. Given a chance to go back in Singapore, we would really love to try to book the place again and I must say in the future travels, we will always consider Airbnb for our accommodation for our local and international destinations.

Here are some of the snap shots of our Airbnb stay!

Quick Tips for First Time Airbnb Users:

  1. Do not skip on reading the FAQ and Help section of the website. The FAQs and Help section contains all useful information prior to reservation and payment of accommodation. There are few horror stories in Airbnb (though different country and locations), so being aware and knowledgeable is very important in using the platform
  2. Explore the platform before using and make sure you understand everything in the website.
  3. Always check the safety features of the accommodation. Read the review and listing carefully of the host. If you have prospect property check out the feedback and listings. Also ask the host via private messaging for some questions you have in the property.
  4. Communication is very important between host and guest to be able to familiarize yourselves. Assess how the host response to you and make sure you communicate nicely.
  5. In addition, when selecting a property, check out their cancellation policy first. There are hosts who have strict, moderate and flexible payment policies and you have to make sure that you are ok with their cancellation policy. Check Airbnb’s definition on their cancellation policies.
  6. Search each and every property in the site. Each listing has different features and selling points. Some properties can be rented as a whole house and others are shared rooms and/or houses. Always ask the host prior to reservation and payment.
  7. As a good guest, do not treat the property as a hotel where you have different staff at your beck and call. Be mindful of their tradition, culture and their house rules. Always make sure that you keep the room and/or house in order and tidy before leaving. Also as a sign of respect, unplug appliances when not in use. Be mindful of your manners as well and avoid being rowdy. Remember the golden rule, “Do not do unto others what you don’t want others do unto you”? Well that is how you treat your Airbnb property and host. Take care of the property as if it is your own. If you are not sure how to use an appliances or furniture, it does not hurt to ask or seek assistance from the host.
  8. Be mindful of your manners all the time and always respect their house rules. (I repeat)
  9. Just like a careful traveler, before you leave for vacation, inform your relatives or trusted friend the address of your accommodation and whereabouts as safety precaution. In addition, keep Airbnb’s contact hotline and email in case there are misunderstanding or glitches in your reservation so they can assist you in cancelling or looking for another accommodation.
  10. After your stay has ended and you are quite satisfied with the accommodation and host’s hospitality, provide a good review / feedback for the host. It never hurts to provide good reviews especially if you appreciate and enjoy your stay.

Hope my little tips helps for those who are considering Airbnb accommodation!

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Ticked off!

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