Here's how to prevent making a costly, hundred-dollar mistake. Because been there, done that.
It may seem like it's simple enough to send a message to an Airbnb host if there are questions about a listing, but it is actually less obvious then it might seem. In fact, for less web-savvy users, the only option that often seems available is to make a booking, which isn't true.
This has a lot to do with the fact that Airbnb's website design has changed, and changed again, over the years, as they prioritize different things to its users. This has made some things far less intuitive than they used to be (while other things have gotten better).
Contacting a host without dates
Strangely, it is easy enough to contact a host about a particular listing if there are no dates included, from the generic listing page.
Here's a quick snapshot:
Things tend to get a little bit more complicated when actual dates are involved.
In order to contact a host with unavailable dates, it is suggested to enter a set of available dates, and use the contact option to send a message.
Contacting a host with dates
In most cases, this will be the scenario. In order to contact an Airbnb host about a particular set of dates, most likely you'll have to put in specific dates before being presented with all the available listings.
Once you're on an available listing that you're interested, here's how far you'll have to scroll down in order to send a simple message to the host.
The Booking option will be predominately displayed on the static, right hand side, while the contact host option is buried about 75% the way down the page on the left side. In other words, Airbnb wants to expedite the booking, and communicating with the host is not encouraged so much (though we encourage you to!).
In case things go awry
In case a booking was made by accident, Airbnb will issue refunds according to the host cancellation policy, which means in the worst possible scenario, there may be no refund available.
This happened personally to us for a $102.11 booking that we made in Lisbon, Portugal.
The company was eventually able to sort it out for us after persuading the host to issue the full refund. In general, though Airbnb is not known for their customer service, and it's not worth such a costly mistake, or the hassle.