Hotel vs. Airbnb: Which is Right For You?


Whether you’re planning a trip in the U.S. to somewhere like Branson, Missouri, or you’re going to a faraway global destination, you’re faced with a big question in the modern travel environment: should you stay in a hotel or an Airbnb?

We go over some of the pros and cons to both and considerations to keep in mind if you’re making this decision to help you figure out which is right for you. 

How Does Airbnb Work for Travelers?

If you’ve never stayed in an Airbnb, you may be wondering how it works. 

For travelers, basically you’re renting either an entire home or maybe a room in a home for a period of time. The person who owns or manages the property is known as the host. 

There are Airbnb rentals in tens of thousands of cities around the world. 

Airbnb doesn’t own real estate themselves, but they’re kind of vacation rental services, where they use peer-to-peer transactions as part of the sharing economy. Airbnb does take a commission from bookings, and they charge a service fee to guests. 

To host on Airbnb, you have to register your listing and provide details on your profile, including pictures. 

Some countries and cities have specific regulations you have to follow to rent out an Airbnb. 

Once you rent a place on Airbnb, you can contact your host directly, and they should provide you with information, including a check-in guide. 

The host sets their price, and then after your stay is complete, you can leave feedback that other users will see. 

If you rent someplace without a lot of reviews, there will undoubtedly be some potential risks. It’s not uncommon to show up to an Airbnb and find it’s less than what you were expecting. We go more into the downsides of Airbnb rentals below. 

What Are the Upsides of Airbnb?

Undoubtedly there are some benefits of staying in an Airbnb, especially if you’re going on a family vacation. 

One of the biggest is that you may have access to a kitchen. If you’re traveling with kids, especially, that kitchen can be helpful. You can make coffee, store snacks and you might be able to cook meals too, which can save you money. If you’re worried about COVID-19 and want to distance yourself socially, an Airbnb with a kitchen can help you stay out of restaurants and be around fewer people. 

Another upside of Airbnb is that you might be able to experience your destination more like a local. If you’re going to a tourist destination like Branson, as we mentioned above, that’s probably not a huge priority. 

If you’re going to a foreign country it can be a major priority for you. An Airbnb rental will likely be in a neighborhood where you might find markets and small shops you wouldn’t otherwise see if you stuck only to tourist areas. 

Another benefit is the potential for an Airbnb to have a washer and dryer. If you have kids or you’re taking an extended vacation, this might be a must-have. If you’re going to a foreign country, be aware that even if the rental has a washer, it’s more than likely it won’t have a dryer, so you’ll have to line dry your clothes. 

So, where does a hotel or resort potentially outshine an Airbnb?

If you’re worried about COVID19, especially with the Delta variant, an Airbnb does give you the opportunity to stay away from other people. In a hotel, you’re going to be running into a lot more people, but with that being said, a hotel undergoes rigorous regular cleaning that maybe an Airbnb wouldn’t. 

You may get better customer service from your Airbnb host because you might be the only guest they’re dealing with at any given time. They also have a vested interest in providing you excellent service because their reviews depend on it. A big hotel on the other hand can probably weather some bad reviews, and the employees don’t always have the time to give personalized service. 

The Benefits of a Hotel vs. An Airbnb

There are quite a few benefits of staying in a hotel or on a resort property. 

First, it used to be that Airbnb was cheaper than hotels. That’s often not the case anymore. If you compare options in the same location, you’ll often find that the Airbnb ends up being more expensive. 

Airbnb charges a fee on both the host and guest end and that tacks on quite a bit to what you’re paying. 

Also, if you’re booking a hotel through travel sites, or you’re a member of a hotel loyalty program, you can find special deals which you can’t with Airbnb. An Airbnb also includes cleaning fees and taxes. All of these factors have meant it’s more likely you’ll find a good deal on a hotel rental than an Airbnb. 

It can be uncomfortable for some people to stay in an Airbnb because many times it’s another person’s home. You’re going to be using their things and surrounded by their personal items. 

Finally, the idea of cooking and living as you would at home might not appeal to you on vacation. When you stay in a hotel you have a lot of your needs taken care of for you, by the staff. You can truly relax without thinking about cooking or doing laundry. You can enjoy cleaning service every day, and if you have questions or need help the concierge is right downstairs. 

There’s no one correct answer for every family when it comes to Airbnb or a hotel, but if you want more of a true vacation experience rather than a home away from home a hotel might be better. Also, while there was a time when Airbnb was cheaper and that was a big part of the draw, that’s no longer the case, so you’re probably going to get a better deal on a hotel. 

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