Now that the likes of Airbnb and other alternative accommodation are increasing tenfold, travellers have more choice than ever! But how do we decide where to stay?
Airbnb is fast overtaking conventional hotels in the booking stakes. While we assume this is down to pricing, there are actually a number of reasons making this so. While pricing is a major factor, some Airbnb’s offer the inclusion of private facilities such as pools and gyms alongside giving a more ‘homely’ feel, which some crave while long-term travelling.
Consider these points..
When choosing either a hotel or Airbnb, think about this..
- What do i want out of my accommodation?
- Am i staying for business?
- (If travelling with kids) Is this the most appropriate and safe environment?
- How much do i want to pay for my stay?
We’ve stayed in numerous Hotels and Airbnbs when travelling, and mostly we choose Airbnb -particularly if we are in Europe. Most of Airbnb’s properties are listed in Europe and the options are endless. There are some exceptions where we picked hotels over Airbnb and this was for specific reasons. I.e requiring a certain area in the city for a festival, and just recently when travelling in the COVID-19 pandemic. While Europe seems to be Airbnb’s main hub, both times we have travelled to Amsterdam we have chosen to stay in hotels – simply because the Airbnb options were pretty poor – and you will find that in certain cities, the hotels are better options, its just the way the cookie crumbles!
What are the main differences?
- Like i mentioned above, think about what you want out of your accommodation. Staying in a hotel offers you a luxury that Airbnb won’t. If you like your room being cleaned daily, fresh towels and nice little extras such as toiletries and drinks in your room, then a hotel is definitely the option to choose.
- Hotels are almost always situated in the centre of cities – making it an ideal location for minimum fuss. Nearly all hotels will have a bar/restaurant area making it super easy to eat and drink there if you don’t fancy going far. Also worth factoring in potential jet lag – most hotels offer room service throughout the day/night.
- If you are travelling on business, hotels have the hidden advantage of cheaper rates on stays, conference rooms and office facilities for you to be able to work.
- Hotels are very ‘what you see is what you get’. Everything is how you expect it and its very rare you get any hidden nasties when you arrive. You know when to check in, when to check out and its a fairly easy universal process. Theres also the obvious bonus of having a luggage room if and when you need it!
- Particularly with how the world is at the moment, its always good to have that extra bit of security. Out of the two, hotels are much less likely to cancel your reservation last minute. Airbnb don’t make a habit of doing this – but they have been known too. This was our main reason for booking a hotel in Macedonia recently. Knowing we had secure accommodation was one less worry whilst travelling during the pandemic.
- Sometimes though, all these little ‘luxuries’ we get by staying in a hotel come with a price, and it can eat away a big portion of your travel budget. Think about what you really class as a necessity while staying somewhere. if its none of the above, what about Airbnb?
My top tips:
- Boutique hotels are often a little bit cheaper than larger hotels, but still offer the same level of service. In fact, as they tend to be smaller, more time and attention is focused on you and your party making your stay that extra bit special.
- If you book hotels through an online agency like booking.com, always stick to the same website. By doing this you accumulate extras to use on future bookings. Booking.com offers the ‘genius’ programme whereby after you have completed so many stays you start to get 10/15% off all future bookings, free room upgrades and free breakfasts (We have taken advantage of this a few times). Similar with hotels.com who offer free nights when you complete so many.
- Airbnb has so many alternative choices to regular hotels and you really can have some one of a kind stays with them. They have a huge database of unique stays worldwide including apartments, houses, beach huts, villas, canal boats, yurts etc the list is endless. If you’re wanting a unique stay then Airbnb is definitely the right choice.
- One of the main selling points of Airbnb is the ability to experience living like a local. While hotels are likely to be full of other travellers, with Airbnb you can often find yourself in an apartment block with local residents making your experience more authentic.
- Unless you stay in a hotel suite, chances are your space will be limited to bedroom and bathroom. With Airbnb you have the option of staying in an entire apartment, giving you use of a kitchen, living room and other bedrooms. This gives you a more ‘homely’ feel, something you may find important when travelling – particularly if you are travelling for long periods of time.
- When you are travelling for long periods of time – it’s rare that you’ll want to eat out every single evening (and budget probably wouldn’t allow it!) Having the option of staying in a place with cooking facilities means you can cater for yourself on those nights when you just don’t want to go very far, or don’t want to spend a lot.
- As the properties are almost always owned by locals, the homeowners are typically very attentive and will leave recommendations and tips to help you get the most out of your trip. Most Airbnb’s we have stayed in have offered us really helpful extras, like airport pick up and drop off for a fraction of the price of taxi’s/private cars. We’ve also been able to book tours/trips directly through the hosts before we arrive. This really makes a difference as it saves a lot of time trying to find a good operator when you’re there (this was a real bonus when booking a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Krawków).
- Airbnb works especially well for groups of people. This is because you pay for the nights you use, not per person like in a hotel. Therefore you can split the whole amount between the party. Take an 3 night stay in Budapest for 5 people. On Airbnb you can see the average total price is around £200. Split that between 5 costs you £40pp. On booking.com the average is much higher (probably not the nicest hotels selected here either) On average the same stay in a hotel would cost you £375 so £75pp.
My top tips
- Always check the reviews. Reviews are great because you can learn all the nitty gritty details which are actually pretty important – how easy the check in was, is the place easy to find? is the host easily contactable? Most reviewers will also list what amenities are in the accommodation meaning you could end up saving money on things like toiletries.
- Its always best to stay with ‘superhosts’ or those who have a decent amount of reviews. While everyone has to start somewhere, that little bit of extra security goes a long way – and typically we only ever book with superhosts.
- Message your host the day before you’re due to travel. Finalise all the details of check in, airport pick up if you have one, and to make sure everything is still going ahead as planned.
So which really is better?
I think this really does come down to personal and situational preference. Hotel Vs Airbnb should be decided on a case by case basis. Some destinations its an absolute no-brainer to choose an Airbnb, and others a hotel is more appropriate. It truly does depend on what you are looking for out of the accommodation, and what your budget is of course. If you are looking for mid-range to absolute luxury with daily service, then a hotel is the right option for you. If you’re looking for cheaper, more authentic accommodation then i would recommend Airbnb. While a hotel is more regulated than Airbnb, we have never had a bad experience whilst staying in Airbnb. We’ve had lovely hosts at each, who were easily contactable and gave great local tips and recommendations – things which make your trip that extra bit special!
What are your experiences with Hotel Vs Airbnb?