Friday, December 11, 2015

My first AIRBNB experience (Tokyo, Japan)

I think the first time I ever came across Airbnb was in Instagram. I remember seeing this gorgeous house from someone's vacation with the hashtag #airbnb or something. I did my research and checked the website and to be honest, I wasn't completely sold. Staying at a stranger's place just seemed scary for me. I would imagine crazy scenarios where the owner would go inside the place (I mean they have the key right?) and kill me or something (yes I have an active imagination). But still, staying in a hotel just seemed safer for me. And more convenient with the all the services like housekeeping, concierge, breakfast, etc.

However, I've been seeing more and more of my friends stay at an Airbnb when traveling. And after hearing their experiences and raves about it, I decided to give it another shot when we were planning our trip to Japan. I first checked the hotels in Tokyo and most were in the P5k range and as with Japan standards, the rooms were quite small. After comparing some Airbnb listings, their sizes were generally bigger (you can choose to rent only a room or the entire home like a studio apartment) and cheaper too!

I also found some articles about Airbnb horror stories, but usually it was the guests who were causing the problem! Like refusing to leave, throwing wild parties, stealing, destroying the property, etc. I figured, the owners of the places are probably just as anxious (or maybe more) then those renting pala!

I continued to read all the FAQs and was slowly beginning to gain more trust in the system. Upon signing up, you have to provide information and get verified, like your phone number, email, Facebook account, and also a government-issued ID. Just to prove that you're a real person, and I guess so they can track you down if needed. And the more verifications you have, the more trustworthy you are deemed to be. Same goes with your host.

Anyway, in choosing where to stay, I must have had about 25 listings in my wishlist for Tokyo and I honestly couldn't decide. I even made an Excel sheet comparing the pros and cons of each place haha! OC much? In the end, I had to factor in location (we decided to stay in the Shinjuku area) and if it was near the train station, the price (some places had a low initial price but then there is an extra charge after the 1st guest which jacks up the final cost), and of course the overall look of the apartment (I wanted to stay somewhere nice and modern of course).

They also say the most important thing to check is the reviews of other people who have already stayed there so you know more or less what to expect. But what was funny is that we ended up choosing a place that had no reviews yet! The listing was new kasi (but now there's reviews na, including mine hehe) and the price was very reasonable, and I really liked how the apartment looked. And even if the place you are looking for has no reviews, some hosts have multiple listings so you can check those other reviews na lang muna.

Some Airbnb listings can be booked instantly, while others you have to request first. Meaning, if di ka feel ng owner, he can reject you. Luckily, our host accepted us! Plus, Citibank had a promo that time of P2,500 off on your first booking. We ended up paying only P23,513.00 for 7 nights!

Before our trip, our host sent us a very detailed house guide which is a PDF file containing useful information - restaurants and convenience stores near the apartment (with map), how to operate the appliances, check-in and check-out procedures, etc.

He also sent instructions on how to get to his place, with the exact trains we were supposed to take from the airport as well as a video of how to get from the train station to the apartment. He also responded very quickly on any inquiry I had.

Anyway, from the airport, we were able to find our way to the apartment with no problem thanks to the directions and video. The only hassle was probably carrying our luggage up and down the stairs in the train station (some have no elevators or escalators kaloka!) and ang lalaki pa naman ng maleta namin!

But once we were there, I was so happy because the place was EXACTLY how it looked like in the photos! You can view the listing here but here's some pics I took:

that brick wall (it's wallpaper btw) was the first thing that caught my eye in this listing
I also love that paper chandelier and red chairs

Staying in an Airbnb definitely gave us more space as compared to a hotel since it was a whole apartment complete with kitchen, closet, and sitting area.The size of the bed was a double and at first I was concerned it might be too small, but in fact it was just right for us. And the sheets were soooo soft! I wanted to ask our host where he bought them haha!

size of apartment was just right for hubby and me

First thing when you enter is a shoe cabinet with slippers inside, since you have to take off your shoes when entering. Good thing there was also umbrellas provided just in case it rained.

From the entrance, there's a short corridor before you get to the main space. This is where the bathrooms are located, and the toilet and shower are in separate rooms.

We loved the hi-tech Japanese electric toilet, with all the functions you can control. But the best part was probably the heated toilet seat haha! ;p

toilet controls

The bathroom also came with its own air conditioner which was perfect since the weather was so cold when we were there. The warm air from the vent was a life saver! There was also a dehumidifier and 24h ventilation so our used towels would be dry and toasty after just a few hours. I would also wash some pieces of clothing and hang it inside the shower area and it would get dry so quickly!

the huge sink was also great for washing clothes
there was a washing machine but we didn't use this anymore

All amenities were also provided (soap, shampoo, cleaning and cooking materials, etc) which was so convenient.

Since this is an Airbnb, there's no housekeeping so I was extra conscious of keeping the place tidy. I even cleaned the floors a few times since I'm a bit OC haha. I loved this mop which you attach wipes on! Super easy and fun to use. ;p

ref, microwave, and balcony area

This was our view from the balcony. That road on the left is where we would walk to get to the main Shinjuku train station which was about 15 minutes away. There was a closer station (Shin-Okubo) but we mostly took and got off the train from JR Shinjuku since we liked the scenery on the way home more.

The apartment was located in Kabukicho, which I found out after I booked was a red light district. At first I was a bit worried since I thought it would be dangerous. But Japan is very safe and we actually loved how ALIVE everything was when we would go home even late at night. Although the apartment was a stone's throw away from the main Shinjuku/Kabukicho area, it was located in a quiet area away from all the crowds and craziness! So many restaurants and convenience stores around as well, so you will definitely have a hard time choosing where to eat.

this was our way going home every night

Oh, and the best part was the pocket wi-fi which was such a BIG help in navigating the city, especially for first timers like us. Some listings had a limit on wi-fi usage (like certain mb per day), but good thing ours was unlimited.

We're very happy with our first Airbnb experience and it definitely exceeded my expectations. If you're looking for a place to stay in Tokyo, particularly in the Shinjuku area, this is a great one! Can't wait for our next vacation when I can stay in another Airbnb in a different country. :)


  1. Very helpful review! :) :)

    Btw, you can buy the mop and dry/wet wipes at daiso or saizen in Manila :)

  2. Hi MrsMommyHolic,

    I'd like to ask, in your Japan visa application, what did you indicate under "Names and addresses of hotels or persons with whom applicant intends to stay", the name of the property or the name of host? Thanks! :)

    1. I believe I indicated the name of the property :)



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