We already know that I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels, but I have also stayed in my fair share of AirBnB’s. For those of you who are unaware, AirBnB is an online marketplace where people list rooms and properties for rent. Some of these listings are solely rental properties but most are people’s actual homes. It’s a great way to feel more at home in a new city instead of just a visitor.
AirBnB used to be my saving grace for quick trips and work travel, but it’s not necessarily my go to anymore. When I first started making travel a regular, prioritized occurrence in my life, AirBnB’s were always at the top of my list for accommodations. Feeling like a local in my own space seemed like the best case scenario. Especially when a crowded, inconvenient hotel over by the airport or a noisy highway was the alternative. But these rentals were coming up a little short, one after the other. Sure, it was a only few things here and there, but they added up quickly.
First, it was a garden apartment that was listed as ‘boho’ but instead was relatively unfinished (complete with unfinished drywall and no molding). Then, it was a Nashville apartment that we couldn’t get unlocked while our host was MIA. I’ve also had hosts that are too attentive or have too many rules (like stripping the beds or cleaning the bathroom when we’re already charged a cleaning fee?!). While some people appreciate or, at the very least, understand those things, I am not one of those people. That being said, hotels are not entirely innocent. For example, my hotel room in Rhode island literally had a hole in the wall. I have had some great, and some not so great experiences at both hotels and AirBnB’s, so here are the things I carefully consider when booking a place to stay.
Picture this: you’ve landed in a city with fantastic public transit so you save a few bucks by not renting a car. You’re all set and on your way to explore by 11 am with a giant suitcase in tow. But then you remember you can’t check in to your Airbnb and until 3 pm so you’re stuck lugging it around until then. Or picture the reverse: you’ve checked out of that same Airbnb at 10 am but your flight isn’t until 6 pm and you are once again stuck with your bags. BUT, if you were staying at a hotel, especially one in a big city, they have entire rooms dedicated to holding luggage. So, you swing on by, give them your info, and drop off your stuff until you can check in. Which they then deliver to your room. Then you can leave it there after check out as well if you need to. Granted, if you’re a ‘one backpack’ kind of traveler this would not be an issue for you. But I am not one of those people and I have to keep that in mind. You may also find an AirBnB host who is flexible and is willing to be extra helpful, but many times that won’t be the case.
To be honest, I don’t always take advantage of free hotel breakfast. But on days I’m heading out early, popping downstairs for a nice meal that isn’t a protein bar can make or break the start of your day. Nicer hotels or ones with loyalty programs typically have fruit, snacks, and bottled water for no charge as well. Some Airbnb’s will let you raid their food, but many times that only includes some spices and a random box of pancake mix. However, having access to a kitchen is an amazing amenity that many hotels cannot provide. This can be especially convenient if you’re trying to save some cash and not eat out.
As I’ve mentioned in several posts, I often travel alone. I do not typically worry about my safety, but Airbnb’s still make me nervous on my own. The idea of being isolated in a house or apartment on my own, in a place I’m not familiar, while someone has a key to the place I’m staying, definitely freaks me out. Even though I know hotel employees can access every room, I’m not alone or isolated, so I don’t feel as vulnerable. It’s also easier to book an Airbnb in a sketchy neighborhood than it is a hotel if you’re not careful.
Many of us have stayed in an Airbnb arrive to find that the photos were not quite representative of reality. Maybe they didn’t post a photo of the skeevy bathroom or that shady back alley. But the photo of the living room is well lit and perfectly decorated. With hotels, especially the chain ones, they are all pretty cookie cutter. You may get a couple of quirky things here and there but usually you know exactly what you’re getting. However, some AirBnB’s will be even better in person than the photos so sometimes it’s worth the gamble.
The price difference between an AirBnb and a hotel can be tricky. For both, you get what you pay for. If you want a deal, don’t settle for the for the lowest base price. To get a good value, you should use points, referral credits, or promotions. It’s typically easier to find a hotel deal, but Airbnb has a fantastic referral program that can end up saving you some serious cash. This is the last factor I worry about when booking a place to stay. I go with the route that it is most cost effective, but only if it passes all of my other criteria.
Do you prefer hotels or AirBnB? Do you have an amazing spot I need to stay? I’d love to here about it!