Travelling has become easier with the increase in accommodation options thanks to home sharing networks such as Airbnb. But is this new style of stay better than the familiar hotel setup?
The share economy concept not only offers travellers more accommodation options, it also gives hosts a way to make an income. People are able to sign up as a host on Airbnb and make their home available to travellers.
But not everyone is in favour of the consumer to consumer model. Some people prefer to go with trusted brands and established businesses, such as hotels, B&Bs and resorts.
As a frequent traveller myself, I’m always weighing up the options between Airbnb and hotels depending on the location, the price, the style of stay I’m after and the duration of my travel.
There are several elements to consider, so I’ve compiled this list of pros and cons of staying in an Airbnb versus a hotel, based on my own experiences.
Airbnb gives travellers the chance to stay in the homes of everyday people. However, there are two very distinct types of experiences.
The first is where there is a live-in host. They’ll generally be available to give advice and spend time with you during your stay.
The second is where guests rent out an entire place and the host does not stay on site. This is a popular option for groups and for people who want to stay somewhere homely but have the space to themselves.
- Travel on a budget. Generally, Airbnbs are cheaper than hotels.
- Stay in unique properties. Whether you want to stay in a chic apartment, a beach house, a caravan or a treehouse, you’ll find them all on Airbnb.
- Solo travellers have more options. For those on a solo adventure, Airbnb offers the option to book one bedroom in someone’s home.
- Flexible check in times. Many hosts give you the option to arrange a suitable time to check in and out.
- Live like a local. Feel what it’s like to duck out from your apartment in New York City or your villa in Portugal, to stroll around the neighbourhood, visit the local shops and eat at the local restaurants, then return to the comfort of a home.
- Have a personalised stay. Some hosts will share tips on where to go and what to do. Some might even hang out with you.
- Bookings may be changed or cancelled at short notice. As these are private properties and hosts change plans, it can be unreliable, especially in busy times. I once had three bookings cancelled on me in Florence, Italy and almost skipped the city entirely because of it.
- The home is not always privately hosted. Some properties are owned by private residents but run like businesses. An employee is paid by the owner to meet guests and handover the key. It’s all business. It loses that personal touch and doesn’t seem to be in the spirit for which Airbnb was originally intended.
- You’re dealing with people. Although Airbnb will intervene, it’s generally person-to-person for all communication. If an issue arises, it may be unpleasant to deal with.
When it comes to hotels, the variety is enormous. From 5-star to budget hostels, these establishments come in all shapes and sizes.
Based on a typical hotel, such as Holiday Inn or Hilton, here are the pros and cons.
- You know what to expect. The hotel experience of check in, check out, and the style of the room is pretty standard around the world.
- Privacy and independence. If you like your alone time, you can be left to your own devices in a hotel. No need for making small talk as you would with an Airbnb host.
- Your room is cleaned daily. It’s nice having your bed made for you, and is a perk of being away.
- Room service. The ability to order midnight snacks to your room or have breakfast in bed is another great holiday luxury.
- Toiletries. Although not always environmentally friendly, it means you can save on luggage space and make do with hotel supplied toiletries.
- Hotels cost more. Hotels have more overheads and therefore the prices need to cover them.
- Hotels are often ordinary. While some resorts and B&Bs will have charm, most hotels offer a cookie-cutter room and standard services.
- Check in and out is restrictive. Generally, it’s check in at 2pm (sometimes later) and checkout at 10am. If you require flexibility, you’ll pay for it.
- Inclusions are rare. Many hotels charge extra for Wi-Fi, breakfast, parking and sometimes the gym.
- Hidden taxes and charges. This is more common in the USA than elsewhere, but it’s important to check local rules and laws on the prices of hotels and ensure that all costs are included at the time of booking.
Airbnb vs hotel: Choose what works for you
For me, choosing a hotel or an Airbnb comes down to the type of experience I desire overall. It’s not just about price, it’s about what type of getaway I want to have.
Will it be just a room for the night, or do I want to spend time in the accommodation and enjoy the atmosphere? These types of questions help when making my decision.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be an either or. My recommendation is to always compare Airbnb and hotels before booking to make sure you’re getting the best experience, at the best rate, in the best location for an enjoyable time away.
AIRBNB VS HOTEL: Do you prefer Airbnb or a hotel? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.