Whether you’re traveling for business or just for fun, you will need to decide where to stay, and that decision has become more complicated than ever. Should you stick with hotels and motels in various regions, or branch out to Airbnb and other vacation rental options? This article takes a look at some of the key factors to consider when making this important decision. At Winetraveler, we believe accommodation can often make or break a trip, so it’s important to consider all of your options.
Pros and Cons: Airbnb vs. Hotel – Which is Right For You?
It was not that long ago that deciding where to stay on vacation meant scrolling through lists of hotel chains. Back then hotels and motels were pretty much the only options, and the name on the front of the building was the only distinguishing factor.
These days there are plenty of other options, with vacation rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO springing up to offer travelers a different kind of accommodation. If you are traveling for business or pleasure you will need to think about not only where you will stay but what type of property is right for you. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing between a standard hotel room and a vacation rental.
What Type of Location and Vibe Do You Prefer?
Any time you travel you will want to think about the type of location you prefer. Do you want to stay in the heart of the city, where restaurants, wine bars and nightlife are just a few steps away? Or would you rather stay out in the countryside or in a more obscure neighborhood, where the streets are quiet after dark and you can enjoy some peace and quiet?
It is important to think about the type of vibe you are looking for from your upcoming vacation. Many hotel properties are located near city centers, close to the action but also likely to be busy and noisy at all hours. Many Airbnb properties, on the other hand, are situated in the suburbs, further away from the city but also far quieter.
When choosing a place to stay you will need to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Staying in the country will likely require renting a car, and potentially incurring parking fees when you want to reach the city. Staying in a hotel closer to the city center may be more convenient from a transportation standpoint, but the tradeoff could be a good night’s sleep.
Accessibility & Customer Service
Renting an Airbnb for any given period of time sometimes comes with a few more logistical hurdles. Plus, more often than not, customer service or assistance is nonexistent (at least on the property). While the team at Winetraveler has had many incredible experiences using vacation rental sites like Airbnb, there have been some scenarios where it’s been hard to locate our accommodation, find the key to get inside, or get in contact with the host. It’s important to do your research and read other customer reviews before booking on Airbnb. Even if you think all of your bases are covered, you’re typically not dealing with a well-oiled hospitality machine, and that can leave room for unforeseen circumstances.
If you want the peace of mind of simply checking into a hotel room, having turn-down service, and getting a free breakfast, a hotel may be a better option.
Comfort and Privacy
These days, there are a plethora of options when it comes to vacation rentals. From luxury to boutique, to small guest rooms located in apartment buildings. We’ve stayed in every variation at this point. While vacations rentals might offer a cheaper alternative to your standard hotel, typically you are walking into someone else’s home or apartment. That means you should be wary and mindful not to intrude too heavily into their space or make a mess.
At the same time, many rentals on Airbnb are often shared, or the host decides to periodically check up on you during your stay. This can sometimes cause inconveniences for guests who are looking for privacy, and these points should be taken into account when you’re deciding what kind of vacation you’d like to have.
Staying at some Airbnb properties can open your mind to a number of new and exciting experiences. For instance, have you ever stayed on a vineyard in Italy before, and dined with the winemaker’s family? Have you ever stayed in a treehouse overlooking the Indonesian or Costa Rican coastline? Some boutique vacation rentals provide access to these unique locations and experiences that are only accessible through sites like Airbnb or VRBO.
Are You a Loyalty Rewards Member?
Experienced and frequent travelers are likely aware of the power of loyalty programs. Most hotels chains, airlines, and rental car companies all offer free loyalty programs that allow you to accrue points and ultimately book free nights, flights, or request upgrades. If you are a member of one of these loyalty reward programs, staying at a hotel instead of an Airbnb could be a smart move. You can potentially save money, or gain access to a variety of perks you might not otherwise get with an Airbnb.
Not only can you use the points you have already accumulated to score free rooms and extra nights but you can also continue to build your point balance with each additional stay. It can be hard to give up these kinds of perks, and for many frequent travelers, these memberships can make all the difference.
Sometimes The Hotel is the Experience
An obvious but often overlooked concept is that the accommodation you choose to stay at can often be a core part of the travel experience. This can go both ways when it comes to hotels vs. Airbnbs. At a hotel, you might get a number of valuable amenities, white-glove service, and concierge assistance. With an Airbnb, you might get a more authentic, boutique experience and in some cases get to meet fellow travelers, or even meet the host’s family and make some great friends. Your destination, travel companions (or lack thereof), and the purpose of your trip will help you determine which option is right for you.
Which Option is the Best Value?
When it comes to choosing where to stay, price and value are not always the same. It is important to look at not only the bottom line price of a hotel room vs. an Airbnb but also the per-person cost.
For those traveling in a large group, splitting the cost of a rented home, houseboat or other Airbnb property could actually be the most affordable choice, something that many families have already discovered. If you are traveling alone or as a couple, you may find that the extra space provided by an Airbnb is unnecessary and that a standard hotel room is a better value.
How Much Space Do You Need?
Couples who have traveled with their kids in tow know all too well how small a standard hotel room can feel. With so many people crammed into such a small space, squabbles and fights are all but inevitable. And when they need extra space, those parents may be forced to shell out extra money for a second room, putting a strain on their already overburdened travel budgets.
It is important to factor square footage into the value equation when choosing between a traditional hotel stay and a few nights at an Airbnb. If you need more space than a hotel room can provide, opting for a rented home through Airbnb could be more enticing.
Modern travelers have many more choices when they reach their destinations, and hotels and motels are no longer the only options. As you plan your next vacation or business trip you will need to think carefully about where to stay, weigh the options carefully and consider many of factors before making a final choice.
Editorial Disclosure: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer or bank.
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