Hotels vs. Airbnb: Which To Choose For Your Next Vacation

Travel Accommodation

If you are planning a vacation, you have likely found yourself debating whether to rent an Airbnb rental property or just stay in a traditional hotel.

While both Airbnbs and hotels come with their own advantages, Airbnb properties tend to have a lot more to offer in terms of privacy and amenities. Plus, through Airbnb’s platform, you can find unique stays that offer experiential value on top of comfort and leisure. 

In this article, we will compare Airbnbs to hotels and discuss some of the key differences between the two. Keep reading to learn why you should consider renting an Airbnb for your next vacation!

Definition of an Airbnb

Airbnb is a vacation rental platform on which individual home or property owners can list their rentals exclusively to Airbnb members. 

To rent a property through Airbnb, all you need to do is set up a free Airbnb account. Signing up will require you to provide one of the following — an email address, a phone number, an Apple ID, or a Facebook or Google account sign-in. 

There are many benefits to renting a vacation property through Airbnb, with one of the biggest being more opportunities to find a private rental. 

Plus, as you stay at more Airbnbs, hosts will leave reviews for you as a guest as well. This makes you a more trustworthy guest on the platform, increasing your chances of being approved for future Airbnbs. 

Definition of a Hotel

A hotel is a large-scale lodging establishment that provides guests with private rooms, typically with one to two beds per room. 

Every hotel is different, so the amenities provided can vary depending on what hotel you stay at. In general, most hotels will offer a complimentary breakfast to guests, as well as basic amenities like WiFi and cable television. 

Additionally, most hotels follow a standard rating system that helps guests determine what they will receive by renting from a specific hotel. This rating system ranges from one to five stars, with one-star hotels offering only very basic necessities and five-star hotels offering upscale, luxury accommodations. 

For an average family, a three or four-star hotel is often a good choice, as these hotels still remain in an affordable price range but can offer a wider range of amenities compared to lower-rated hotels. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Airbnb or Hotel

Though there are many important factors to consider when choosing between an Airbnb or a hotel for your next vacation, three of the most important include:

  • The size of your group
  • The length of your stay
  • The flexibility of a rental’s rates

Let’s now explore each of these factors in greater detail:

Size Of Group

Whether you have a small or large group, it is always essential to make sure the accommodations you choose have enough room for your entire party.

By renting a hotel, you are somewhat limited in terms of space. Most hotel rooms have a maximum of three beds, though some do offer pull-out couches as well. In total, a standard hotel room can generally fit between one to five people. 

On the other hand, Airbnbs can vary pretty drastically in how much space they have to offer. Since most Airbnbs are not a part of a larger hotel (though there are some boutique hotels listed on Airbnb), the number of beds and dedicated bedrooms is left largely up to the host.

Additionally, as mentioned earlier, Airbnb has search filter features that allow you to look for properties with a specific number of beds and bedrooms.

All-in-all, if you are traveling with a large party, choosing an Airbnb with multiple rooms and beds is likely to be much more comfortable than cramming everyone into a few hotel rooms. Plus, with Airbnbs, you can choose to rent a property where everyone can have a private room if needed. 

Length Of Stay

The next important factor to consider is the length of your stay. This goes fairly hand-in-hand with the size of your group, as longer stays with large groups can benefit from more privacy. 

For example, let’s say you are having a family reunion with 15 family members for 7 days. If you chose to rent a hotel room, multiple family members would need to stay in the same room for several consecutive days. If you have ever travelled with family, you know this can definitely become a frustrating situation after the first few days of no privacy. 

Comparatively, if you are planning a long stay with a large group at an Airbnb, you can not only ensure that everyone has ample bedroom space but you can even find an Airbnb host that is accommodating for events or get-togethers. 

Rate Flexibility

Both Airbnbs and hotels can offer flexible rates that change according to various factors, such as:

  • Time of Year: Most vacation-focused locations will have an on-season and an off-season for tourism. In many cases, Airbnb owners will lower their rates during the off-season to attract more guests to their property year-round. Meanwhile, some hotels follow a similar practice to keep more of their rooms filled during slower times of the year. 
  • Days of the Week: Weekends are always more popular for rentals than weekdays. As a result, many Airbnb hosts will offer special weekday rates that are significantly cheaper than their weekend rates (see Airbnb’s official page for weekend pricing for more details). 
  • Number of Days: Oftentimes, when you rent an Airbnb property for longer periods — typically 7 days or more — an Airbnb host will offer a discounted rate for your entire stay. Depending on which hotel you select, some hotels also offer a similar pricing model, though these pricing models can be a little more rigid compared to those managed by one Airbnb host. 

What is the Difference Between an Airbnb and a Hotel?

Along with the factors we discussed above, it is also crucial to take note of the key differences between hotels and Airbnbs. 

One of the biggest differences is the type of rentals offered. With a hotel, you will typically have a selection of different types of rooms, from standard basic rooms to luxury suites. However, all of these rooms are a part of the larger hotel structure.

By comparison, the Airbnb platform supports many different types of stays, including:

  • Entire Homes: An entire home can refer to a standalone house, an apartment, or a condo. With this type of stay, you have the entire place to yourself and do not have to share the property with any other guests or the host. 
  • Private Rooms: Some hosts choose to use their own home as a rental property, offering private rooms along with various amenities, such as access to the kitchen. Private rooms tend to be one of the cheaper options on the platform, though you will share space with other guests and the host. 
  • Hotel Rooms: As mentioned, some boutique and more unique hotels choose to list their rooms on Airbnb. Often, these hotel rooms offer a special experience, such as a bed and breakfast that offers three complimentary meals per day. 
  • Shared Rooms: For the tighter budgets out there — or for anyone looking to meet new people — Airbnb also offers a shared room option. Similar to a hostel, shared rooms have multiple beds and are shared between many different travellers. 

With this key difference between the types of stays available through Airbnb versus hotels, let’s take a more in-depth look at some additional comparisons: 

Airbnb vs. Hotel Prices

In terms of pricing, it can vary quite a lot based on the size of the rental, the location, the time of year, and more. Generally, though, Airbnbs are thought to be more cost-effective than hotels, as they often include more amenities and greater freedom. 

For example, you may find a hotel room that is $60 per night and an Airbnb that is $100 per night. While on first instinct you may want to go for the cheaper hotel option, upon further inspection you may find that the Airbnb offers free laundry, a full kitchen, and a stocked pantry of non-perishable goods.

While the hotel is cheaper upfront, overall you will end up saving more by having the ability to cook your own meals and use the non-perishable goods provided for you. 

Airbnb vs. Hotel Privacy

As we have covered, hotels do not have a lot to offer by way of privacy unless you rent multiple rooms.

Airbnbs, by comparison, offer you far more privacy both from other visitors and from your own group. Although it may be awkward to admit, we all know how taxing it can be to spend 24 hours per day with the same people, so having a separate room where you can be alone and unwind can be a real plus. 

Airbnb vs. Hotel Amenities

Hotels vary drastically in what types of amenities are offered, as do Airbnbs.

One of the main differences between these two types of rentals is that an Airbnb has the ability to offer more amenities overall than a standard hotel room. Of course, you can always opt for a luxury hotel room that offers more amenities but then you may end up spending way more than you originally planned. 

According to Airbnb, the top 10 amenities offered through the platform and preferred by guests include:

  • A pool
  • WiFi
  • A kitchen
  • Free parking
  • A jacuzzi
  • A washer and/or dryer
  • Air conditioning and heating
  • Self check-in
  • Laptop-friendly workspaces
  • Pet-friendly policies 

Airbnb vs. Hotel Services

While Airbnbs do come out on top in most categories, one aspect that hotels have the upper hand on are guest services.

Depending on the host you work with through Airbnb, the host may be nearby and ready to help with whatever you need, or they may not even be in the same region. In turn, you get the privacy you want but sacrifice personalized guest services.

At a hotel, you can generally receive a standard set of services that include hotel breakfasts, daily room cleanings, room service, and bellhop luggage assistance. However, you should always read the fine print when using these services, as many hotels charge extra for them. 

Is an Airbnb Better than a Hotel? 

It’s time to level with you and answer the pressing question: is an Airbnb better than a hotel?

Our general answer is yes, it is. Of course, the type of rental you choose ultimately depends on your personal preferences, the availability of Airbnbs or hotels in the location you are travelling to, and the other key factors we discussed above. 

We will now cover some of the top pros and cons of both Airbnbs and hotels to help you make your final decision about where to stay: 

Airbnb Pros

The pros of Airbnb include:

  • Greater privacy
  • More amenities
  • Flexible pricing models

Airbnb Cons

The cons of Airbnb include:

  • Potentially limited availability depending on location and time of year
  • Higher fees (hosts can set their own cleaning which can sometimes be fairly expensive)
  • Limited guest services

Hotel Pros

The pros of hotels include:

  • Easy to book and check-in
  • Cheap options available in more urban or downtown areas
  • A wider variety of guest services

Hotel Cons

  • Additional amenities or accommodations often cost extra
  • Standard rooms offer limited privacy 
  • Upscale rooms are some of the most expensive rental options overall

Final Thoughts: 3 Tips for Finding the Perfect Airbnb for Your Vacation

When it comes to choosing between an Airbnb and a hotel, Airbnbs have several clear advantages that make them a better overall choice. From more amenities to ample space and privacy, an Airbnb gives you an excellent opportunity to find a home away from home. 

As you search the Airbnb platform for the right rental property for your needs, it is important to know what the best practices for finding an Airbnb are. 

Here are our 3 final tips for finding the perfect Airbnb for your next vacation: 

  1. Use Filters: In Airbnb’s built-in search engine, you can apply a variety of different filters to narrow your search. These filters include price range, type of place, number of rooms and beds, property type, amenities, booking options, accessibility features, and host language. Additionally, you can filter results to show only properties managed by Superhosts — a special title given to high-performing hosts with great ratings and reviews. 
  2. Research Hosts: Any time you find a property on Airbnb, it is always a good idea to visit the host’s page and learn more about them. A host’s information can typically be found at the bottom of a listing, or you can click on the host’s picture to visit their account page. From here, you can access all of the host’s reviews as well as read their bio. 
  3. Read Reviews: Always read the reviews for both the specific property you are renting and the host you are renting from. Pictures can be deceiving, but reviews from previous guests can be incredibly illuminating. If you notice that an Airbnb listing has many negative reviews, it may be best to opt for a different rental property. 

With all that said and done, it’s time to start searching for your ideal Airbnb for your next vacation! Click here to have a look at the range of vacation properties we manage here at S&T Properties.

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