A whole new world of travel has been opened up by modern technology. We now have more creative options than ever before, and accommodations are no exception. With this glorious expansion of options, it’s all the more important to “know before you go” for the best travel experience.
Since choosing a place to stay can be the difference between a miserable trip and a fantastic one, it’s vital to do your research. It can be confusing to know which option is better. How do I know which is right for me? Is it a good financial deal? Which is the safest option? What about quality?
How do you choose between a hotel or an Airbnb (or similar rental sites)? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Airbnb & Hotels- What’s the Difference?
We are all pretty familiar with what the average hotel has to offer. But if you haven’t rented through something like Airbnb, it can be a mystery. Airbnb rentals are basically home-sharing accommodations that can include studio apartments, houseboats, homes, villas on the beach, castles or even treehouses and yurts. These locations are owned and operated by every-day people, which is why quality and service will differ depending on owners.
The upside? With Airbnb, you can literally explore the world in locations where hotels may not even exist. They can transport you to another unique culture, a rainforest canopy under the stars or even a privately owned castle on an ocean cliff. When you choose this option, you can feel more like a local and less like a tourist. It’s like a home away from home.
The downside? There’s no concierge to call you a taxi, no staff bringing you more blankets, no manager upgrading your room or other such luxuries. Hotels offer 24/7 reception, many include breakfast and all have daily room service. Many also have fitness rooms, pools, business office, Wi-Fi, security protocol and often a restaurant or coffee shop on the premises.
Safety & Cleanliness
While hotels must follow standards and rules, Airbnb’s can offer a more authentic experience. You can relax in a comfortable atmosphere like a local would. With this experience however, quality can widely differ from place to place. There are incredibly beautiful luxury hotels and clean moderately priced hotels- same goes for Airbnb locations. Then there are those in both categories that are dirty, feel unsafe and make you want to run for the hills!
Keep in mind, Airbnb does not have to adhere to the same health and safety regulations as hotels are required to, and there are no regular inspections. Hotels are legally required to present a safe environment. With Airbnb, those regulations do not yet exist. Only certain hotel employees have access to room keys, while Airbnb rental keys are essentially held by strangers.
How Does the Price Compare?
Both hotels and Airbnb have a wide range of pricing. Hotels have to think about running a business and keep their pricing competitive. Airbnb owners can choose what to charge, whether ridiculously high or a great deal. Airbnb owners may also charge cleaning fees, additional guest fees or other charges at their leisure. Airbnb may be a bit more flexible when it comes to pet policies, smoking, and even occupancy. If you like to cook, many Airbnbs offer full kitchens which may save you a bundle eating out. But if you prefer the amenities of a hotel, there are still creative ways to save costs on food.
For the price, hotels may be the best choice for short-term stays and predictable amenities. Airbnb can seem to cater to groups and longer-term stays more naturally. While hotels typically have strict check-out times, depending on your Airbnb owner, there may be more flexibility as to when you have to leave. Barring a disaster, hotels won’t cancel your reservation, but Airbnb owners can for personal reasons.
Before You Book- Questions to Ask Yourself
It’s important to get clarity on a few things before you do your research and make a decision. Consider these questions to guide you as you plan your travel accommodations:
- Who are you traveling with? Solo, with a partner, with kids or with a group?
- Where are you going?
- Do you want your accommodations to be close to your target activities?
- Is your trip for business or vacation?
- What do you want out of your trip? A unique experience? Comfort and leisure? What are your expectations?
- What are your priorities? Saving money or enhancing comfort?
Whether a hotel or Airbnb rental, you must compare and read reviews.
- Be sure to read Airbnb’s reviews on location, quality, and security (not only the owner information).
- Always book with a reputable host that other people have given great reviews.
- Compare hotel prices with Airbnb prices in the same specific location to see what fits your needs and budget better.
- Compare hotels and Airbnb with other sites as well, such as Home Away and VRBO.
While choosing between a rental property and a hotel can seem complicated, it really comes down to what you desire for your travel experience and your expectations. Gaining knowledge on the differences, asking the right questions and doing the research ahead of time will go a long way towards a great experience. No matter what you choose, you will come home with more insight and perhaps a story or two. Happy travels!
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