So, you’ve got a trip to plan. You’ve mapped out all the landmarks to see, and you’re already dreaming of every amazing restaurant to visit.
Okay, but where are you going to stay?
With peer-to-peer rentals like Airbnb popping up in just about any location you could possibly ever want to visit, they’re giving hotels a run for their money. However, hotel accommodations and Airbnbs are two very different kinds of experiences. How do you know which one is right for your trip?
If you’re trying to decide between a traditional hotel stay or an Airbnb rental, these are the questions you need to ask yourself before you book.
What Is the Cost Difference Between the Two?
When looking at the price difference between Airbnb and traditional forms of lodging, one isn’t cheaper than the other across the board. The cost of Airbnb rentals versus hotel rooms varies, depending on where you are going. For instance, the average Airbnb in New York City is around $164, which is much cheaper than the average hotel price at $245. On the flip side, travelers hitting Austin, TX are looking at an average of $286 for an Airbnb rental, while hotels average $160.
That means that if price is an important factor when booking a stay, you’ll have to do your own research first. That extra bit of research before making a reservation certainly pays off.
Am I Wanting to Live Like a Local?
One of the biggest draws to peer-to-peer rentals like Airbnb is the ability to “live like a local.” It’s hard to experience a destination as an actual resident if you’re staying in a chain hotel. There’s nothing native about that Marriott! Sure, you will be leaving your hotel room to do and see other things, but it takes you out of the experience each time you return.
Airbnb rentals are located directly in the neighborhoods you want to visit. You’re never removed from the experience – it extends to your lodging, as well. It’s also worth noting that many Airbnb owners are more than willing to offer guests some insider tips. You’ll hear directly from a local where the best restaurants, shops, experiences, and hidden gems are at. If you’re lucky, your host may even give you a tour of the area!
You’ll also be able to find unique places to stay through Airbnb that a hotel just can’t offer. You’ll certainly never find a hotel chain renting a historic Massachusetts lighthouse, or a hobbit-themed earth house built into a hill.
What Amenities Do I Need?
Everyone travels differently. On top of that, your needs can change based on where you’re going and how long you plan to stay. For instance, if you are taking a long vacation where you will need to wash clothing, staying at an Airbnb with a washer and dryer is extremely convenient. Plus, it can save you a ton of money, considering hotel laundry services are never cheap.
Similarly, if you’re hoping to save money by cooking meals, you may be better off with an Airbnb rental. It can be more cost-effective to rent a home with a kitchen on Airbnb. Hotel suites can sometimes offer full kitchens, but these aren’t the norm and they’re much more expensive. You won’t find much more than a mini-fridge and a microwave in a regular hotel room.
What Services Do I Want?
If hospitality services play a big part in your overall experience, a hotel may be your best choice. You can expect services like housekeeping, room service, concierge, and free breakfast from a hotel. Airbnb rentals typically won’t meet these needs.
Hotels can also offer guaranteed reservations. Your lodging will only ever be canceled due to extreme cases, such as a natural disaster ripping through the hotel. With Airbnb rentals, though, a host is allowed to cancel your reservation with short notice to guests. While not typical, it can and does happen.
Hotels also score points with rewards and loyalty programs. If you’re a member, you can earn perks like free nights, room upgrades, special discounts, and more. Unfortunately, Airbnb doesn’t have any programs similar to this.
Am I Comfortable Staying In Someone Else’s Home?
The biggest thing you need to consider when choosing between a hotel and Airbnb? Ask yourself if you’re comfortable staying in someone else’s home. I know this seems obvious, but it’s an important question to ask yourself. You’ll likely find personal items, like family photos, collected coffee mugs, or keepsakes that may make some guests feel like they are intruding on someone else’s life. Hotel rooms lack any personalization or particular style.
There is also a valid concern over hidden cameras. While it’s not common, there are a small number of travelers that have discovered hidden cameras while staying in an Airbnb!
So, What’s the Verdict?
All in all, choosing between a traditional hotel or an Airbnb rental is going to depend on your personal preferences, the length of your stay, your budget, and the amenities you need. And while it may take a little extra research, as well as answering these questions honestly, you’ll be able to find your best lodging option in no time!