Booking a Charleston Airbnb: All You Need to Know in 2021

Booking a Charleston Airbnb in 2021 can be difficult for a number of reasons. The main reason is that the Charleston City Council passed an ordinance in 2018 limiting the areas of downtown that can offer short-term rentals. The ordinance also made it difficult for owners to apply for the necessary permits.

Charleston Airbnb

Of course, everyone involved loses in this situation: Homeowners aren’t free to use their property how they want and visitors only get access to a limited number of overpriced rentals. All this to placate a few power brokers in the city who feel it is their God-given right to dictate to the rest of us “in the best interest of the city.” But I digress…

There are still plenty of great Airbnb options in Charleston for you to enjoy. Below we will discuss some tips for choosing the best one for your group, including some dos and don’ts to help make your next visit to Charleston a memorable one.

Off-street parking is a must when choosing a Charleston Airbnb

I have been fooled before by Airbnb owners claiming their property features “ample street parking.” In cities like Charleston, parking is a premium and it should be the first thing you look for when choosing a Charleston Airbnb.

Do: Only choose Airbnb’s in Charleston that feature off-street parking.

I have also read some Airbnb descriptions that aren’t honest about how much off-street parking is available. Many Charleston homes share driveways with multiple units and you will not want to coordinate with other renters or residents every time you need to use your car.

Read the entire description

I am as bad as everyone else when it comes to reading headlines. I see the headline and take the information away without actually reading the body of the article.

Don’t: Get fooled by the headline description of a Charleston Airbnbs

Remember, “cozy” in Charleston means “small” and “cramped.” Honest Airbnb hosts will tell you everything you need to know about their home in the description. Small is ok if the hosts are honest about their space up front.

Do: Always click the “read more” tab when searching for Airbnb’s in Charleston.

This is My South” has a great article featuring many great Charleston Airbnbs: “The Best Airbnb Rentals in Charleston.” Check it out.

A pull-out couch is not a bedroom

It really bothers me when Charleston Airbnb hosts use pull-out couches to increase the occupancy of their rentals. Some people do not mind, but I think it is an underhanded way to appear in more searches.

Do: Make sure occupancy isn’t being increased because of pull-out couches.

Message hosts with any questions you may have

It is always best to confirm information with hosts before booking Charleston Airbnbs. If the description is unclear about space, location, and off-street parking, then send the host a quick message.

Quick Tip: If you are interested in longterm or last minute Airbnb rentals, message the host to see if they will offer you a discount.

They should get back to you in a reasonable amount of time with the answer. If they do not, then that is a red flag. Because Charleston is so popular, hosts should be active. This means responding promptly to potential guest messages.

Research the location of every potential Charleston Airbnb

Charleston Airbnb
Paper maps use to exist

When I was researching this article, I noticed an Airbnb located way up the Charleston peninsula. I clicked it and could not believe they advertised “3 blocks from King Street” in the description.

Do: Google cross-streets and the locations of every Airbnb you consider to get a more comprehensive picture of its location.

This wasn’t dishonest because King Street was 3 blocks away, but it was misleading. King Street is a long street that doesn’t end in the tourist district. If you were a bachelor party looking for a rental close to the action on King, you would be disappointed by this booking. It was “3 blocks from King Street,” but it was also about a 45-minute walk from the tourist district.

Consider off-peninsula Charleston Airbnbs

When Charleston locals say, “downtown,” they are talking about everything on the Charleston peninsula. Everything else including Mount Pleasant, James Island, Johns Island, etc., is “off-peninsula.”

Ride share options make renting Charleston Airbnbs off-peninsula more viable than they were before. There are fewer restrictions on off-peninsula Airbnbs as well, so you can find more value there.

Other reasons to consider off-peninsula Airbnbs:

  • Closer to Charleston beaches like Folly Beach and Sullivans Island
  • More comfortable for big groups
  • Better parking options
  • Quieter than downtown

Charleston beaches are farther away than you think

Many downtown Charleston Airbnb listings say that the beaches are 15-minutes away. Maybe it’ll take you that long to get there if you leave at 3 A.M., but Charleston beaches are more like 30-40 minutes away from anywhere downtown.

Charleston Beaches
Visit Charleston piers while they last!

This is another reason why you should research the location before paying for an expensive downtown Airbnb. You should also consider the timing of your vacation. Traffic to the beaches can be terrible on holiday weekends, so plan accordingly.

Don’t: Think you can rent a downtown Charleston Airbnb on July 4th weekend and get to the beach in 15 minutes. That trip will take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours before you see the beach, if you can find parking at all.

Charleston has great hotel and B+B options too

I cannot believe I am providing this tip because Airbnb is supposed to be a better option than hotels. The problem is, because of the city ordinance, many times they are not a better option.

I searched a random weekend on Airbnb in October before writing this article. Granted, that is the prime time to visit Charleston, but I thought that the prices were outrageous. You would be better off staying in a hotel. Even with the up-charges like valet parking, you would still get a better deal than many of the Airbnb options I saw for that weekend.

Do: Check hotel prices before booking a Charleston Airbnb because they might be cheaper!

Other Dos and Don’ts when booking a Charleston Airbnb

  • Don’t: Ever rent a Charleston Airbnb that doesn’t list “A/C” as an amenity. And check the pictures to make sure they aren’t window units.
  • Do: Book Charleston Airbnbs early! Prices fluctuate immensely.
  • Don’t: Forget to look through the reviews. Most travelers will not leave bad reviews, so make sure the stars line up with what renters are saying.
  • Do: Inspect the pictures carefully. I saw one rental where the king sized bed was about two inches away from three walls in the “bedroom.” Good luck rolling out of that bed.

Enjoy your next visit to Charleston

Charleston is one of the best cities in America to visit for a reason. The food is excellent, the sites exquisite, and the people are very friendly. You should enjoy everything about your visit here, including your Airbnb.

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By, Thomas Cochran
By, Thomas Cochran

Owner of TC Creative, a copywriting service in Charleston SC.

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