I can’t even count how many Airbnbs I’ve stayed in over the years, but I've been using the service long enough that I remember when it was actually a bargain. I could get way more space in a popular destination for less money than a fancy hotel room. Sometimes I was asked to strip the bed before leaving or to bring my own towels, but it was worth it to me for the savings.
But now when I try to find an affordable Airbnb, all I see are restrictions, including minimum numbers of days allowed and outrageous prices that make a nice hotel room seem like the better deal. Are my days of Airbnb-ing over? I’m admittedly pretty turned off, and I’m not the only one who's pissed.
These days, that perfect little summer house you wanted to get for the weekend may cost you much more than it used to, thanks to cleaning fees, service charges, and taxes.
A new study by Forbes Advisor shows that Airbnbs for this summer now have an average of 36% in added fees on top of the nightly rates. In cities with higher fees, prices may be bumped up by as much as 44% to 48%. WTF is going on?
@watchintheknow Why do we have to pay a $200 cleaning fee when we’re already cleaning your whole apartment?? #airbnb #cleaningfee #greenscreen ♬ Elevator Music (Full Version) - WavesWithTales
Airbnb hosts can advertise lower nightly rates to be competitive, but reveal a much higher rate right before you book, thanks to cleaning fees. Forbes Advisor evaluated 32,000 listings in 102 Airbnb markets and found that the average cleaning fee is $160 for a five-night stay, going as high as $313 in places like Telluride, Colorado. That’s legit the cost of an extra night’s stay in a hotel room.
And don’t forget to add taxes, which can be up to 20%. States like New York and California add the tax price into the rental cost, so you’re still paying it even if you can’t tell. Forbes broke it down to reveal that, on average, cleaning fees are 11% of the subtotal, service fees are 15%, and taxes are 10% when you book an Airbnb.
Some of the worst offenders for added fees include Atlanta, Georgia, where extra fees reach 48% on top of the nightly rate. Other locations that are close to this amount include Phoenix, Arizona; Fort Myers Beach, Florida; Park City, Utah; and Houston, Texas. The best, on the other hand, include New York City and Santa Barbara, California, but again that's only because fees are included in the nightly price. So take that with whatever grain of salt you will.
So is it even worth the bother of trying to find an affordable Airbnb anymore? That depends. In some cases, you may be paying as much as a nice hotel room, but have multiple bedrooms and a kitchen, so think about what’s most important to you. You may also be able to save some cash by using credit card reward points. It also may be easier to find more affordable Airbnbs in less popular markets if you’re up for it.
As for me, I’ll be using Airbnb less frequently this summer. I am too irritated at the thought of paying extra for cleaning when I'm OCD about keeping my vacation place pristine as it is. Perhaps the company should start offering negotiable cleaning fees? Airbnb, call me when you consider it.
For more helpful travel tips (and rants), please sign up for our free newsletters.