When you’re traveling, cost is usually the number 1 determining factor as to where, when and how you can travel. Last year, my husband and I traveled to one of my dream countries: ITALY! It was my 30th birthday and I had recently had surgery (which you’ll read about next week) and I wanted to go to Italy. Thankfully, my husband was okay with it and we went. It was AMAZING and I’ll be posting a detailed post about that in the future, but for now, I’ll just say that it was an amazing experience that was way cheaper than we imagined.
We wanted to travel for 10 days but were trying to spend less than $700-800 on accommodations. Most hotels charged at least $100-125 per night, so I knew that this wouldn’t really be doable for us. I instead opted to try Airbnb. I had previously done Airbnb domestically, mainly on the East Coast in Boston and Atlantic City. In Boston we rented a room in a large home and in Atlantic City we rented a house that we shared with our friends who traveled with us. One thing I loved about Airbnb was having an entire house and our own kitchen. It was great. Based on these experiences, I decided to give airbnb a chance internationally and I am SO GLAD that we chose to stay in Airbnb instead of hotels. My husband and I stayed in four different apartments in three different cities over the course of 10 days and 9 nights in Rome, Florence, Naples and Capri. We had AMAZING apartments that were spacious, clean and gorgeous. They were conveniently near the subway and within a few minutes of the city. What’s more amazing, though, is the price we paid for our accommodations.
We paid $720 TOTAL for 10 days of accommodations.
That’s $72/day for both of us. What’s crazier is that some of our apartments had two and three bedrooms, so if we had traveled as a group, it would have been even cheaper!
Throughout most of my travel experiences, I’ve stayed in hotels. I’ve had many good experiences but can say 100% that most of my trips from now on will be in AirBNB homes.
Today, I’m going to break down Airbnb and compare and contrast them with hotels so that you can know the best options for you. While I recommend AirBnb for most things, there are certain times when I believe that hotels are better.
In general, hotels are a more luxurious experience. I know many people who would never dream of staying at an Airbnb property for the simple fact that they don’t want to clean their own rooms while on vacation. I completely understand this viewpoint. For me, however, I’m totally down to stay longer in a country if I can find a cheaper place to stay. As long as it’s clean and convenient, I’ll stay there. It’s all about what’s important for you and what your budget is.
Pros of Staying in a Hotel
- You have to do less work. NO cleaning, NO carrying luggage back and forth. You go and have almost everything done for you. You leave the room with your bed unmade and you come back with it made. Upon checking out, you can just leave without having to worry about cleaning up.
- You earn points and rewards if you stay in the same chain of hotels consistently.
- If your flight is delayed, you aren’t as worried about checking in because you can check-in any time after the official check-in time.
- Many hotels have a shuttle service from major airports
- Amenities: fitness centers, conference rooms, continental breakfast, spas, restaurants, bottled water, shampoo, conditioner, etc. I’ve stayed in Airbnbs that have had amenities, but most do not compare with hotel amenities.
Cons of Staying in Hotels
- More expensive: this is almost always the case. To this day I’ve never seen a nice hotel that was cheaper than Airbnb.
- The hotel could be double booked unexpectedly or you could have your room switched inexplicably. This is something that happens more often than you would think. You can read about how often this happens in the hotel reviews
- They’re less consistent: some hotels can inexplicably be under construction when you go or are having issues that need repair, etc.
If you’re looking to stay on a tight budget during your travels, Airbnb is definitely for you. If you’re REALLY on a tight budget, you can go super cheap and rent a room in an Airbnb apartment. Overall, I’ve found that even finding your own apartment is more reasonable than hotels.
Pros of AirBnb
- Cheaper: almost always (as long as you book in advance. If you wait too long, the cheapest listings are almost always gone)
- More space: you have an entire apartment or house to yourself, including a full kitchen and bathroom(s), couches, desks, etc.
- Kind hosts who leave guides, maps and recommendations: this was a lifesaver for us in Italy. They had menus from every restaurant, tourist guides and even maps of the city.
- Reviews that are very detailed, reliable and recent.
- If there’s ANY issue that involves your room, you’ll get refunded easier than in a hotel.
- You have a convenient app that controls everything.
- DIY- you have a full kitchen, which is perfect for anyone who has allergies, special diets or dietary restrictions and needs to cook their own food. You also have a table to sit down and eat. If you want to order in, you’ll have space to eat.
- You can choose the neighborhood; often in places where there are no hotels
- AMAZING for large groups
- More PRIVACY! You have a full apartment to yourself and don’t have to worry about thin walls.
- Family friendly because of the large apartments and rooms. They even have homes with cribs (one of our Italy rentals had a children’s room)
Cons of Airbnb
- Stricter check-in because the host has to meet you. If there’s a delay it could potentially be problematic. However, this also means that they can accommodate an earlier check-in
- You get rated after each stay, so make sure you’re clean!
After reading the pros + cons above, you can see that certain travel scenarios would be better for hotels or for Airbnbs. Here a few examples:
If you’re on your honeymoon: HOTEL
You don’t want to do anything on your honeymoon but relax and spend time with your new spouse. You want things done for you and you want to eat out at nice restaurants. My recommendation: stay in a hotel.
If you’re traveling with a group: Airbnb ALL THE WAY.
It will be dirt cheap per person.
If you’re traveling on business: HOTEL
It’s easier for your job to book a hotel. Also, conference rooms and amenities benefit business travel.
If you’re traveling on a budget: Airbnb
If you have dietary restrictions or health issues: Airbnb because you can cook your own food and keep it in the fridge
If you’re larger than average (height and weight): HOTEL
It’s more difficult to find large beds and showers in an international Airbnb, especially in Europe and Asia. It’s possible, but it’s more likely that you’ll find a California King in a hotel chain.
I hope my list has given you clarity over where to stay on your next vacation. Do you have any other pros and cons about Hotels or Airbnbs? If so, write them in the comments below!
Action Item: Make your dream vacation more of a reality bypricing different destinations for your 2017 vacations! Don’t hesitate. IF you’re not sure where to go, check out my post about countries that should be on your travel bucket list.
If this list has convinced you to give Airbnb a chance, use my link for a special $30 travel credit!