When it comes to visiting a city when we travel, one service we absolutely love to use is Airbnb. This accommodation rental service has given traditional hotels a run for their money in recent years as more and more affordable accommodation options open up in any given city.
We thought it would be interesting to look at the state of Airbnb in Pittsburgh, using our experience with the network abroad as the basis for comparison (we have stayed in close to 100 rentals, after all).
It didn't take long for us to realize one very important fact: the Airbnb scene in Pittsburgh is quite different from what you'd see in other cities around the world.
Pittsburgh's Airbnb Scene – Young But Growing
You may have read about Airbnb taking over in most cities around the world, where a plethora of accommodation options have become readily available thanks to the sharing economy.
Although Pittsburgh is joining this marketplace like any other city, it is lagging behind the global trend considerably. As of publication of this article, there are just over 300 rentals available in the greater Pittsburgh area.
The bulk of the rentals, roughly 200 or so, are private rooms. This means you will be staying with a host in the same house but will have a guest bedroom all to yourself. We've had great experiences using this option while traveling as it helps keep the price down but also lets you get to know someone who lives in the city (which is great for tips, advice, and stories about what the city is like if you want more than just reading our site).
When you refine your search to popular choices like entire home rental (not sharing common spaces with your host) or the Superhost option (meaning your host has had over 10 guests in the past year plus a lot of other highly desirable aspects), options drop down to just about 100 and 50 rentals respectively.
For a city of over 300,000 people, this is incredibly low.
But no matter what option you choose for your visit, we are fortunate enough as a city to have some really great options even if the overall number is limited.
A Range of Options and Locations for All Budgets
One of the things we always look for when renting an Airbnb over a traditional hotel room, aside from the price and number of positive reviews, is the location.
In many countries around the world it is impossible to find a budget hotel room in a vibrant neighborhood, and Airbnb has been a good outlet for us to pursue options in popular neighborhoods that were not otherwise available for our budget.
In Pittsburgh, things are a little different.
On the price point, Airbnb in Pittsburgh offers an incredible deal over the city's hotels (which can be $200 per night or more). Rental prices range from $60-$200 per night, with an average of just over $80 per night for private rooms and $160 per night for entire homes.
So whether you are looking to save cash or just upgrade your living space without spending more, there are many options worth considering.
On the location front, unfortunately Pittsburgh is not as compact and easy to navigate as other destinations around the world. If you've read our Pittsburgh transit guide, you'll know that getting around by public transit or on foot is difficult at best (although not impossible if you put some time and effort into it) and that having your own car is one of the best ways to explore all of the sights in the city during a brief visit.
As such, you do not necessarily need to pick one neighborhood out of convenience or to explore more thoroughly, because if you come to the city looking for the full experience odds are good you'll be moving around quite a bit.
That being said, those who are coming in for a specific purpose or do not have a car may want to check out Airbnb properties in a fixed neighborhood like the ones below.
Pittsburgh Airbnb Rental Options
The following is a selection of neighborhoods, price ranges, and Airbnb options that may be worth checking out if you are visiting the city for a specific purpose and need to fix your location. (If booking your first Airbnb, be sure to register your account using our referral link to receive a stay credit on us. Typical promotions are $25 discounts!)
Please keep in mind that the listed Airbnb properties below are not endorsements on our part by any means, but instead are given as examples of what appear to be properties with great locations in each neighborhood that will give visitors the best access to what they're coming to see. As with everything in the sharing economy, quality and experiences may vary.
- For sports fans, you may want to look for an Airbnb on the North Side so you will be in somewhat easy walking distance to the Steelers and Pirates stadiums.
- A private room in the Mexican War Streets neighborhood runs about $80-$110 per night (examples 1, 2, and 3 here) and private home rentals start at $200 or more (examples 1 and 2). This neighborhood has charming architecture, is rather quiet, and has a few restaurants and bars within walking distance.
- A private room in Deutschtown runs about $70-$90 per night (example 1) and private home rentals start at $115 (examples 1 and 2). This neighborhood has a few decent restaurants and dive bars, and has more street traffic than the Mexican War Streets which at times may be questionable (at night-time especially).
Looking for more reasons to stay in these neighborhoods? These are also close to popular museums including the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Science Center, and more unusual attractions like Randyland and Bicycle Heaven (the latter is easier reached with a car). It is also a perfect starting point for a walk or bike ride along the North Shore River Trail.
- For those catching a show in the Theater District, a North Side location would also be fantastic to help avoid the crazy overnight parking fees found downtown, but you may still want to drive in for the show as walking can be a bit much for some.
- The above Mexican War Streets and Deutschtown options would also work wonderfully for those who have cars.
- Downtown has limited options for visitors and private rentals (albeit likely with views) begin at around $250 per night (example 1). Parking would be a significant concern here and would likely be extra.
Looking for more reasons to stay in these neighborhoods? Downtown Pittsburgh is home to many attractions including a rather robust gallery crawl, historic Point State Park and the Fort Pitt Museum, and an increasing number of good restaurants.
- For those who love food and want a neighborhood base to eat around, the Strip District, Lawrenceville, and Squirrel Hill are home to some of the best restaurants in the Pittsburgh.
- A private room in the Strip District runs about $70-$100 per night (example 1) and private home rentals start at $100 (examples 1 and 2). This neighborhood used to be thriving with industry and is now home to many regional grocery stores, international restaurants, boutique shopping, and bars- all accessible within walking distance (although things tend to shut down in the early evening).
- A private room in Lawrenceville runs about $50-$100 per night (examples 1, 2, and 3) and private home rentals start at $150 (example 1). Lawrenceville is one of the hottest spots in Pittsburgh right now and seems to have new restaurants of all styles popping up left and right. Parking and driving congestion has become more of a problem here in recent years, however.
- A private room in Squirrel Hill runs about $50-$75 per night (examples 1, 2, and 3) and private home rentals start at $115 (examples 1 and 2). This neighborhood has a disproportionate number of Asian and Jewish restaurants and has a bustling business district within walking distance of many quiet streets with beautiful houses.
Looking for more reasons to stay in these neighborhoods? The Strip District is also home to the Heinz History Center (all about western Pennsylvania) and is an easy walk or quick bus ride to the heart of downtown Pittsburgh depending on what side of the neighborhood you stay in. Lawrenceville is home to the Roberto Clemente Museum (appointment only), many trendy shops, and unique bars. Squirrel Hill connects to the beautiful Frick Park (with the historic Frick Mansion) and is a short drive or bus ride away from the college neighborhood of Oakland- home to the Cathedral of Learning and Phipps Conservatory.
Questions About Pittsburgh Rentals to Ask Your Host
One of the things we learned rather quickly when renting an Airbnb abroad is what questions to ask your host ahead of time. We often tailor our questions specifically based on what we know about the city, and in Pittsburgh there are several key ones you may need to ask depending on your situation and the rental type you book (plus others that are just good practice no matter where you go):
- What kind of parking is available?
- Is the parking by permit or are there other restrictions (like street cleaning on select days of the month)?
- Do you live on premises or, if not, do you live nearby?
- Will you be available when I arrive or is there an automated entry system?
- In either case, what is the arrival process?
- Do you have any recommended directions to reach the unit from [insert highway you are coming in on here]?
As navigating around Pittsburgh is often one of the biggest frustrations for any visit, it is best to be clear on any question you have regarding transportation and arrival instructions in advance.
Trust us when we say that dealing with poor arrival instructions for an Airbnb is the worst part of the service, and having issues in Pittsburgh will likely be even more frustrating than in most cities. But once you get over that hurdle, renting an Airbnb in the city should be a great experience!
Visiting Pittsburgh and Looking to Airbnb? Enjoy a Credit on Us!
If you are visiting Pittsburgh and looking to try out Airbnb for the first time, sign up using this link to receive a credit on us to be used in your first booking! (Credit values may vary based on current Airbnb promotions but average around $25 most of the time.)
Decide that Airbnb is not for you? Check out Pittsburgh's best hotels on Booking.com by clicking the previous link. By using our affiliate link we will receive a small commission from any hotel booking, and would greatly appreciate it as they help keep our site running! For a more detailed guide to Pittsburgh hotels, click the previous link.
Have any questions about visiting Pittsburgh or Airbnb in general? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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