Moving from one Airbnb to the next, our stays vary in all sorts of unpredictable ways, from the coziness of the bed to the walkability of the neighborhood to the preparedness of the kitchen. When we first started traveling, we found it just as difficult to anticipate the amount of privacy we’d have at a given Airbnb, even when we’d opt for the “Entire Place” home type. But the more we traveled, the better we got at spotting helpful patterns. If you’re a guest wondering how much privacy you can expect, take a look at the five different flavors we’ve noticed in our travels of the “Entire Place” Airbnb. We’ve found that if we can spot which of these Airbnb arrangements a host has, we can get a pretty good sense of how interactive or private our stay will be. In broad strokes, here are the pros and cons of each setup we’ve defined, along with a few of our favorite Airbnbs that exemplify these categories. Enjoy!
1) Shared Home
The Shared Home category is the most intimate of the “Entire Place” flavors, and it captures Airbnb in its original form: hosts welcome guests to come stay with them in their home. The other two “Home Type” options Airbnb offers (the Shared Space and Private Room categories) almost always fall into what we call the Shared Home setup. However, “Entire Place” Airbnbs can also fall into this category when the Airbnb is a self-contained suite nested inside the host’s main house. What defines this flavor of Airbnb for us is the fact that we are sharing the host’s home with them. This close proximity means our paths cross more frequently and we’re more conscientious about shared resources (internet, water, common spaces, etc.). If hesitation about this kind of arrangement has kept you from giving Airbnb a try, keep reading! There are plenty of less intimate options to come.
With their attractive price point and proximity to their hosts, these Airbnbs are perfect for travelers on a budget who are eager to soak up local recommendations from residents.
Close quarters means less privacy. Noise might travel, schedules might conflict, and a host you’re not crazy about can damper your trip in this arrangement.
2) Shared Property
This is our favorite and most sought-after Airbnb setup. The Shared Property arrangement involves an Airbnb located on a host’s personal property but separated in some way from the structure where the hosts actually live. This might mean a suite over a standalone garage, a camper tucked in the corner of the yard, or a separate cottage in the distance. More common in rural and suburban areas, these Airbnbs strike that perfect balance between privacy and personalization. As guests, we love knowing we’re not bothering our hosts with any noise, but that they’re also nearby if questions come up.
The Shared Property Airbnbs offer travelers a lovely blend of unique surroundings with plenty of privacy. These places tend to be designated specifically for Airbnb guests and assembled with personality and care.
The additional space usually comes with a higher price tag than the Shared Home Airbnbs. Also, hosts with such ample space will often run two or three Airbnbs simultaneously. This can mean other guests visiting the property while you’re there as well.
3) Primary Residence
This type of Airbnb caught us a bit off guard, maybe because it’s less common or maybe because it deviates from the branding Airbnb promotes on their homepage. Primary Residence Airbnbs are kind of like a mini subletting arrangement. They tend to crop up in densely populated, in-demand locations. Essentially, if a guest comes along who’s willing to pay a premium for the host’s primary residence, the host will tidy up their home, change the sheets, and make themselves scarce during the guest’s stay. This works well for folks who travel frequently themselves and want to make a bit of money off their property while they’re away. Other hosts can scoop up a month’s worth of rent in a week of crashing on a friend’s couch while their own home functions as an Airbnb.
These listings often open up a location that would otherwise be Airbnb-less. Plus they tend to have just about anything you could need since they’re outfitted to function as the host’s primary residence.
The other side of that coin is clutter and some cleanliness concerns. Whereas other Airbnbs are geared towards hospitality, these more lived-in spaces tend to be focused on making money.
To date, we haven’t stayed in a Primary Residence set up that we’ve loved enough to feature on the blog. Perhaps we’ll find a great example in the future with a super savvy host who can pull this off.
4) Vacation Home
Then there are the Vacation Home Airbnbs. Unlike the Primary Residences, these “Entire Place” Airbnbs usually feel much more ready for travelers. Hosts tend to take great pride in their vacation homes, and are usually eager to share their happy place with guests. In addition to the extra income, these hosts are often motivated by a mindset along the lines of: “If I’m not enjoying this beautiful place right now, somebody should be!” Since hosts usually live far away, these Airbnbs are almost always self check-in and tend to be professionally cleaned between guests. Keep the ebb and flow of the local economy in mind as this often drives the price of these Airbnbs. We try to book these places during the “shoulder season”, a term we picked up from coastal hosts who lower their spring and fall rates and make the majority of their income during the lucrative tourist spikes in the summer.
These Airbnbs usually come with incredible locations. They are, after all, vacation homes! And while they’re outfitted to be truly livable spaces, they don’t come with all the unwanted stuff that Primary Residences tend to have.
Of course, as Vacation Homes, the hosts themselves usually live farther away. This translates to unparalleled privacy, but if anything goes wrong help can feel a bit out of reach.
5) Real Estate Investment
Last but not least, there are the Real Estate Investment Airbnbs. When someone owns a property, instead of selling a starter home or leasing an apartment to local tenants, some folks will turn their real estate investment into an Airbnb. The nightly Airbnb rate is often much higher than renters would pay, and owners retain more control over the daily ins and outs of the property. As guests, the catch here can come down to the size of the operation. In our experience, if these real estate investments are run by an individual with just one or two Airbnb properties, our stay is often just as personable as any of the above Airbnb arrangements. However, when the operation has sprawled into a full blown business, the accompanying standardization can undermine the very diversity and intimacy that we love about Airbnb travel.
The investment type mindset often translates into clean and comfortable stays. And when they’re owned by someone who still lives nearby, the local recommendations are usually top notch.
In general, the larger the real estate operation, the less personalized the stay (although we have definitely seen exceptions to this rule!) Take a peek at the other listings under the host’s profile to get a sense of the scale.
We were blown away by one St. Louis real estate company and their ability to combine their business venture with all the thoughtful touches and individualism we love about Airbnbs. Check out this Tower Grove apartment.
Thanks so much for reading our take on the “Entire Place” Airbnb! What patterns do you see in Airbnbs? Any clusters that other guests might find helpful? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and until next time, happy travels!