I like to think that when it comes to accommodation, I am game to try most options. The type of stay that speaks out to me during my travels is one that features style and charm, convenience of location and that innate homely quality. That may be a cosy B&B near the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it might be an all-inclusive, adults only, beach front resort in Cuba ideal for couples wanting to escape that creche vibe; it might be a chic Budapest boutique or a luxurious private pool villa in Bali; it might be a 5 star club room oozing glamour in Abu Dhabi, a tranquil countryside cottage weekend with friends or even a romantic honeymoon safari tent in the middle of the wilderness in Africa.
One thing it has never been, however, is an Airbnb property – until now that is – but on our recent visit to Croatia, Pumpkin and I decided it was time that changed. In fact, we made a real fruit punch of the accommodation in Croatia throwing in one Airbnb in Hvar, one actual B&B and one boutique hotel all into our into our six day trip.
It dawned on us that on many occasions, particularly those with intensely concentrated itineraries, we often end up forking out for hotels that we only really wake up and fall asleep in. It’s one thing etching into those hard earned paychecks when you actually need or want the concierge, the room service, the spa, the in-room treats and the squilions of TV channels. ( In this paradise hotel in the Seychelles, for example, room service and a fully kitted out room were just what the doctor ordered when I had heatstroke.)
But is it worth spending £300 a night if all you’re using is the bed and the basin? Each to their own but that’s not my cuppa – I’d rather use that cash to book myself another flight (obvs!)
And so, after flirting with the Airbnb idea for a little while now, we were finally tempted to test it out for ourselves.
The reviews we had read about people’s experiences were a mixed bag and I am certainly under no illusion that it’s smooth sailing every time but that is true even with hotels and after reading about the warm, hospitable and positive experiences that both Emily (Cosy Traveller) and Emily (Grown Up Gap Year) had with their Airbnb stays recently, I was sold.
A Perfect Studio Apartment Stay in Hvar Old Town
True to his archetypal efficiency, Pumpkin wasted no time in registering on the Airbnb site, where users as well as hosts are required to upload photos to help with recognition e.g. for when you meet to collect keys. Whilst browsing properties, we came across Tomislava’s very well reviewed one bedroom Airbnb studio apartment in Hvar, which is slap bang in the centre of Hvar old town. And when I say centre, I literally mean a two minute walk away from the main square so this is gold dust in terms of location in Hvar.
After we booked, Tomislava emailed us easy and clear instructions about where and when to meet her and she was waiting for us as promised when we arrived, assisted by a friend who helped with translation. They gave us a really helpful introduction with information about visiting the nearby Pakleni islands, where to find the beaches on Hvar island itself, maps of the local area, how to get water taxis, restaurant and bar recommendations as well as the more mundane but essential soundbites about the apartment itself, such as how to change the temperature controls and lock the doors.
She had kept a large bottle of water in the fridge for us, some cereal and muesli for breakfast, a variety of coffee and hot chocolate sachets, a large pack of nuts to snack on and had left us a box of chocolates and biscuits as a welcome treat.
The kitchen was fully equipped had we wanted to start getting creative with our culinary skills (or lack thereof) but the only cooking I have ever undertaken on my travels has required
rather a lot of supervision by professional chefs such as this cooking class in Ubud.
Our bed was made with crisp contours, a neatly folded throw and a bag of local Croatian lavender perched on the midline. She had thought of everything with the provision of beach towels and beach mats that we could (and indeed did) use when exploring the many pristine coastal areas on the island.
We made it to two of the restaurants that they recommended when I had asked for suggestions, both of which served quite contrasting but outstanding cuisine.
Despite being so close to the main square of the old town in Hvar, the street that the apartment itself was on was peacefully tucked up a staircase with no disturbance overnight. We had been told about the nearest supermarket, which was on the main square itself and we had already sniffed out a couple of nearby bakeries and cafes that we had earmarked for breakfast the following morning.
After getting dressed and heading out the next day, hungry but eager to venture to the turquoise beaches, we opened our front door to find a plastic bag dangling from the handle, swollen with the weight of two enormous croissants inside that Tomislava had left for our breakfast, totally unexpectedly.
We couldn’t believe just how kind and thoughtful a gesture this was and as we walked along the marina in Hvar, we bit into the croissants, their chocolate core melting into the flaky pastry under the morning sunshine.
On our final day in Hvar, Tomislava came to meet us to collect the keys at a time of our choosing. As we thanked her, she once again reconfirmed what had become easily apparent by now, reiterating her hospitality and generosity of spirit when she gave us a parting gift of a small bag of lavender and a local souvenir attached to a hand painted card she had made, depicting Hvar and flush with summer colours.
My Airbnb First Experience Verdict
As our host on this occasion, I suspect Tomislava has set the bar rather high for future Airbnb stays but we were so grateful we opted for this apartment, where a 3 night stay would have been the same price as a one night stay in the nearby Hvar hotels. In truth, I had wrongly imagined that Airbnb would be an option I would select if I couldn’t find a suitable hotel but an experience like this has left me with the distinct belief that for at least some of the trips that we take, we could actually see ourselves selecting Airbnb apartments in preference to hotels.
Have you stayed in an Airbnb property before? I’d love to hear your verdict and experiences.
45 thoughts on “A First Experience with an Airbnb Apartment in Hvar, Croatia”
Shikha, I’m so happy you had a good experience with Airbnb. I’m a big fan and have used it multiple times, always with positive outcome. That way we usually save on lodging and are able to splurge on dining experiences. I like that you get to live like a local and have a comfort of home. Naturally, there is nothing better than a luxury hotel, but if your budget doesn’t allow it airbnb seems to be a very reasonable alternative.
Oh I didn’t realise you’d used it so much too Nano but after this wonderful experience and hearing that you’ve been pleased with it time and again,that gives me a lot of reassurance to use it again! Like you say, because of how much of a bargain it was, we felt much more at ease to splurge a bit more on some nicer restaurants and it was lovely returning to a cosy apartment at the end of the night turning an actual key rather than a swipiey key card – felt very much like home 🙂
We are looking to find an air bnb in Lausanne for February as hotels are insanely priced, and this would be our first time. I’m hoping to have as good an experience as you!
Ooooh good luck Danielle! I’ll keep my fingers crossed you fin something lovely out there. I’ve not been to Lausanne but have travelled to a few other cities in Switzerland a few years ago and remember how crazily expensive the hotels were at the time so I think I’d probably look at this option if I went back there 🙂
Wow, sounds like you couldn’t have asked for a better first Airbnb experience! What an amazing host. So happy that you tried it out and enjoyed it 😀
Well I’m really glad you blogged about your one in Japan Emily, as it was from reading and hearing about experiences like that and knowing what a lovely experience it can be that got us thinking about using it for the first time ourselves to be honest, as otherwise, I’m not sure it would have ever even occurred to us to explore it as an option 🙂
We so understand you when you describe what you want when you stay someplace! “Luxury” comes in many forms – charming inn, glamorous hotel, romantic and cozy B&B, etc. We too had never stayed in an Airbnb until this past spring, when we were spending a lot of time in Victoria looking for a house to buy before moving here.
Your Airbnb in Hvar looks really sweet — and it’s nice you had the beachmats and were given a lavender gift upon leaving.
That’s what we found about 3 of the Airbnb’s we stayed in here in Victoria — lots of extra little goodies were thrown in (like organic eggs and a fresh baguette to make breakfast at one place).
Like you, we won’t be hesitant to stay at Airbnb’s again in future (though one has to do their research and pick ones that all come with great reviews).
Absolutely Janice and George – I think you’ve hit the nail on the head about the review thing as I think that’s key! We were fully aware of the horror stories that some people have had but when we read the reviews of this place, all we saw were people raving about the great location and the warmth of the host so we took a chance and it definitely lived up to the positive comment. I remember reading your post about Airbnb apartments in Victoria and some of them looked so plush and fabulous! Love that the brought you oranic eggs and a baguette – how lovely 🙂
Your hostess sounds very thoughtful, what with the croissants and the gift at the end. I’m yet to stay in an Airbnb but keen to do so
She was such a sweetheart and exuded warmth despite the language barrier between us Suze! I never thought Airbnb would be my thin but it was so lovely that I’d definitely recommend giving it a go one day but making sure you pick somewhere that’s well reviewed especially for a first time!
I’ve enjoyed the AirBNBs we’ve stayed in – I’d only ever book the whole apartment but it really is a home away from home!
Oh yes, I’m totally with you on that Emma as I wouldn’t want to rent a room within a shared apartment or home either (though I guess some would say that too has its perks) but I prefer the privacy of having the whole apartment and this studio was just a perfect size for all our needs 🙂
Very interesting post, we stayed in an AirBNB apartment in West Hollywood for 3 weeks and really loved it – I loved staying there like a local!
Oh wow Becky, I think I’d have felt a bit like a celebrity if I was staying in one in Hollywood! How fabulous!
I tried an Air BnB a while ago and had a great experience – I definitely need to get into more of a habit of using them more as you can find some great deals!
Me too! I’m not saying that it should be everyone’s default every time but I think in some situations, especially if hotel availability or prices are restrictive or indeed if you’re hardly going to be using the hotel service that you’re actually paying for or if you want a more authentic experience of living like a local, then it’s a great idea!
It sounds like Tomislava has set those standards high. For your first Airbnb experience, it seems you lucked out. I am yet to use their services but when I do I will set my expectations low so that if things go badly then I won’t be too disappointed.
We were certainly lucky Rachael but I think if you do decide to try it for the first time,make sure you go with a property taht has had numerous reviews over a decent period of time that are mostly positive and read through the detail of what the reviewers have mentioned and that will hopefully help to minimise the risk of any disasters with a bit of luck!
Airbnb is really worth renting and a quite comforting. Love your Croatian itinerary. Hoping for more of your travel.
Aww thanks Annika, I’ll definitely be doing more posts about Croatia in due course with more info about the things we did and places we visited. Airbnb turned out to be a great option for us on this occasion!
Seems you guys had it okay. I tried it once – never again. Arrived at a hotel with no reception and had to pay extra with my credit card – just to get in the door! I walked away, down the street and booked into an Interhotel (60 Euros) that was great. Now I just email the places I want to stay in and go, avoiding all the commissions and possible hassles.
Oh no Ted, that sounds like a nightmare and the last thing you need when you’ve just arrived somewhere,especially if you end up losing out financially as a result. Good thing you found somewhere to book into nearby but that’s actually a good tip as well about trying to contact the hosts directly as an alternative way of doing it. We knew there was a chance of it being a disaster as we had heard of other bad experiences like yours but I think because of the number of useful and positive reviews, we took a gamble and it paid off this time.
Wow, sounds like you had a great experience! All those little touches really make a difference. I’ve had mixed experiences with Airbnb and similar sites, but I always like hearing about the good ones.
Oh no, sorry to hear it hasn’t always turned out to be a positive experience Julie but I guess, if you’ve used it several times, there’s always going to be a chance that some of those won’t be great (as I may well end up seeing for myself if I use it enough times again in the future!) But yes, our host was so sweet and above and beyond with all her sweet gestures and touches 🙂
Aww so lovely to hear you had such a great host – I think they can make all the difference! I’ve not used Airbnb yet, but Wimdu several times and the place we found in Budapest was amazing! I think I prefer a hotel when it’s just me and Justin, but an apartment is a much better option when we’re travelling with the stepkids, friends or family. Sounds like we have a convert! 😉
Hehe, don’t get me wrong Keri, I certainly won’t be closing the door on hotels anytime soon but like you say, in certain specific scenarios, an apartment like this may just fit the bill a lot more than a hotel would and for those situations, I would definitely consider it again and will also definitely look up Wimdu as dont know of that site – thanks for that tip!
It looks like you had a lovely stay in Croatia! I think Airbnb is a great concept and a fabulous way to explore a city like a local. It all sounds like you had a wonderful experience!
That’s one of the things we loved about the experience so much Miriam! Despite only being there for 2 nights, it really felt like home having our own little space there during our stay 🙂
I’m so glad you had such a wonderful experience with this AirBnB property. If we were ever to visit Hvar, we’d definitely stay here. Love that hospitality and generosity. We recently had our first Air BnB experience in Iceland this past summer. It was more like little cabins off the owner’s property. It was the best property we stayed at in iceland and we stayed in two other properties booked through booking.
Oh really?! I’m so pleased to hear that Mary! One of my colleagues found an airbnb property here in England for a holiday with her kids that had them staying in a lighthouse and they loved it! Our host was so lovely and made such an effort to make us feel welcomed and to show her hospitality, which was a great first experience though her place was only a studio apartment that would comfortably fit 2 so it might be a tight squeeze if you ever go with your kids too but there were plenty of great looking choices in Hvar when we looked on the site of all varying sizes 🙂
It’s the little things that make a big difference and it looks like your AirBnB host had it nailed. I visited Hvar about 11 years ago – Mr Jones and I flew into split, hired a car and winged it down the coast to Cavtat and island-hopped our way back up. We had nothing booked and just found B&Bs to stay in. One of our first and best trips together 🙂
I’ve always been a little sceptical about Air bnb but you’ve definitely changed my perspective!
I was too Gary but ended up being really pleasantly surprised! Not saying it’s the right choice for every type of holiday but I would definitely recommend giving it a try if you’re heading somewhere where you don’t really need all the hotel facilities or where hotels seem very overpriced. You never know, you might like it!
Wow, she was just perfect for Air B&B. I’m happy that you enjoyed your stay. She was so sweet to leave gifts for you two, such an expected blessing! Great experience
She really was such a sweetheart, who went above and beyond to make it a welcoming and special stay. It was a great introduction to Airbnb ☺
I haven’t stayed in an AirB&B place yet as I am a little wary to be honest but perhaps I should consider it in future…
I had never done it before either to be honest so also had some reservations and I would still only do it if I was renting the whole place not just a room but it proved to be a brilliant options for us on this occasion ☺
it looks great! I haven’t done this kind of accommodation yet. My husband recently went to Germany with his friends and they stayed at a great house:)
We got really lucky for our first experience of this type of accommodation and I think it can be a really good option if you end up picking somewhere well located and with good reviews!
Ah, so glad you liked it! We stay in AirBNBs alll the time! You’re exactly right about the basin and a bed – why spend more than you have too? Plus it’s great to a kitchen as well occasionally!
Oh I didn’t realise you use them too Cass! It was such a revelation as to how homely and cost-effective this type of accommodation can be for those trips where the luxuries of a hotel would be wasted. Loved our first experience of it!
glad you seemed to have a positive experience. I stayed in 3 Airbnb places in South America last year, and will soon turn to writing about how they went (generally very positive too). Ive booked two more thus far for my 2017 travels. nice work!
Thanks Andy! I’ve also read reviews of some people who have had disastrous experiences with it but as far as first impressions go, we were absolutely delighted with the cute little studio apartment we were in and it has definitely got me looking into this far more often in future!