Should You Choose a Hotel or an Airbnb for Your Next Trip?

Should You Choose a Hotel or an Airbnb for Your Next Trip?
Photo: Davizro Photography, Shutterstock

One of the many decisions to make when travelling is: Airbnb or hotel? While you’re probably going to consider the obvious, like location, availability, and cost, there are many other factors that could influence your experience.

Of course, if the final bill is the only thing that matters to you, you might simply choose whatever lodging is cheapest per night — though you should still consider related expenses like having every meal out or paying to park at a hotel versus extras like Airbnb cleaning fees and taxes.

Ultimately, the choice comes down to what you value when you travel, so here are a few things to consider when weighing your options.

When should you stay in a hotel instead of an Airbnb?

When you lay it all out, there are actually a lot of perks to staying in a hotel over an Airbnb or other homeshare, from quality to flexibility. Here’s when a hotel might be the better option for you.

You’re staying for a short time or simply need a place to sleep

Hotels can be cheaper (and less effort) than Airbnbs for one or two nights. Plus, travellers often choose an Airbnb for the feel of the place and a desire to hang out during downtime. If all you need is a bed, and you don’t plan to spend any time there otherwise, a hotel may be preferable to a rental.

You don’t want any added responsibility

When you stay in a hotel, all you have to do is show up, stay, and leave. With an Airbnb or other rental, there are usually minor cleaning tasks, such as running the dishwasher and taking out the trash, to do before checkout. There are complaints of longer chore lists required by hosts in spite of cleaning fees — and not following a host’s strict rules can result in a bad review.

You appreciate hotel amenities and quality control

If you like having access to a pool, fitness centre, onsite dining, and concierge services, as well as daily housekeeping, then a hotel may be the best option. Plus, you’re likely to have a more consistent and predictable experience with a familiar chain hotel.

While many Airbnb hosts are highly responsive to guest needs, you may be less likely to encounter maintenance issues that can’t be resolved at a hotel.

You have hotel rewards points

Hotel loyalty programs and travel rewards credit cards offer perks like free nights, room upgrades, and complimentary meals, which could save you some money and add value to your stay.

You need a flexible cancellation policy

Hotels often charge for late cancellations (within 24 hours of check-in, for example), but many Airbnb hosts have much more restrictive policies. The strictest require cancellation within 48 hours of booking no matter how far out your stay is planned — otherwise you’re on the hook for anywhere from 50% to 100% of the cost.

Plus, hotels won’t cancel on you at the last minute.

When should you stay in an Airbnb instead of a hotel

The main arguments for Airbnb, on the other hand, come down to comfort and value.

You’re travelling with a large group

Considering both cost and comfort, Airbnb is often a better bet for larger groups. For example, paying for a handful of hotel rooms may be more expensive than renting a home that sleeps a dozen people. Plus, you’re more likely to have open and communal space to hang out, cook, and spend time together.

Note that Airbnb and individual hosts have rules about parties and guest numbers, so this isn’t an entertaining free-for-all.

You’re staying longer term

Not only is a home likely to be more comfortable if you’re staying for days or weeks, but Airbnb hosts sometimes offer lower rates for longer-term guests. Airbnbs often have washers and dryers, too, for doing laundry during longer stays. In fact, stays lasting a week or longer make up around half of all Airbnb nights booked.

You prefer a home environment and amenities, including kitchen access

Again, Airbnb is likely to feel more like home, especially if you rent the entire space rather than a private room. If you want to cook, have separate living space, or enjoy outdoor access, an Airbnb is probably a better bet.

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