Hey all! It’s #TravelTuesday – my favorite day of the week! Hope you all are finding yourselves being productive and having a great start to the week. And if you’re not, I hope you’re enjoying your ice cream while binging on Netflix to make it better. That’s always a solid plan B when plan A doesn’t work out. 🙂
This week has been spent getting things organized with my blog so I can balance work, blog, and life once I start back working full-time next week. If anyone has tips on how to make this work, throw them at me because I’m quite nervous, TBH. I still can’t believe September starts in a couple days, but apparently time keeps going even when you’re in denial. Let’s get going with this weeks #TravelTuesday update.
This is a hot debate and a question I’ve been asked a lot. Instead of sticking to my own bias (because what kind of article would that make?), I decided to seek out information online and from people I know. This way, I can give you all of the information you’re heart desires comparing the two. That’s what you asked for, right? No…well, you get it anyway.
This post will be sharing differences between the two. Keep an eye out at a later date telling which I prefer and why.
/hōˈtel/ – noun – “an establishment providing accommodations, meals, and other services for travelers and tourists.” (thanks, Google dictionary)
/air-bee-in-bee/ – noun – “online marketplace and hospitality service for people to lease or rent short-term lodging including holiday cottages, apartments, homestays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms, to participate in or facilitate experiences related to tourism such as walking tours, and to make reservations at restaurants.” (thanks, Wikipedia)
Before I dive into each one, here’s a visual comparing the two:
That’s a very brief comparison. You can see there are perks of both. But what I’m hoping to do by the end of this post, is to provide you enough information to make an educated decision on which one is best for you.
I’m going to be describing hotels and Airbnb in relation to convenience, amenities, predictability, safety and cleanliness, value, and tourism/culture.
I’m going to make an assumption that most of us know what a hotel is and have stayed in one at least once in our lives. If you haven’t, message me and I’ll get you caught up.
For reference, I’m talking hotels. I’m not talking motels or those shady inns that you see at the start of a horror film (see: Joy Ride circa 2001, Vacancy circa 2007).
Here are what some of my friends had to say about hotels:
I can understand the intent behind all of the above.
You mostly know what you’re going to get. A Holiday Inn is a Holiday Inn; the Ritz is the Ritz. You might have to do a little bit of research into that specific hotel, but you won’t have to sift through a lot of reviews of someone’s home, the neighborhood, the hosts, etc.
You also have likely been using hotels since you started traveling. It’s easy and you don’t have to think about.
If you’re by yourself, why rent a whole home or feel uneasy renting a room in someone’s home? When traveling for work, especially if it’s on the company’s dime, a hotel absolutely makes sense.
Pretty much every hotel anymore comes with endless amenities. You can get room service, towel service, cleaning service. You’ll likely have a pool and a fitness center. If you forget your toothbrush, you can call down and someone will bring one up. Don’t want to go down to the bar for a glass of wine? You’ve got a (pricey) stocked mini bar in the fridge. Need those shoes shined? No problem. Need a wake up call? They got you. Hotels win this battle. Some may cost a little extra, but it’s there in the same building you’re staying in.
This is going to tie in with convenience a bit, but it’s a category all in its’ own. You know what you’re getting 8/10 times. You know your check-in time will be around 3, check-out will be around 11. You can call for a late check-out when you sleep past your alarm. When you get there you stop by the desk, confirm your reservation, get your room key, and head up to your A/C-blasted room. There will be towels in the bathroom, soaps in the shower, probably a coffee machine, and a list of TV channels with your remote. The comforter will be fluffy, there will be a million pillows on the bed, and the nightstand table will have a light and an alarm clock. I bet you can even find a bible in the top drawer of the nightstand. It’s familiar; it’s a routine.
Safety and Cleanliness
Hm.. I won’t say this is 100% the case. But, I will say that I can see where the statement of being more clean is coming from. In terms of safety, absolutely. There’s someone at the front desk, there’s sometimes a guard, and your room is pretty safe. The chances of someone breaking into your specific room in a building full of them is slim. If you feel uneasy, the front desk is one number away and someone will be at your door in minutes. And hotels are legally required to provide a safe accommodation.
Clean…meh. I guess this is anywhere. But hotels kind of freak me out. They have to wash so many sets of sheets in a day and somehow I just don’t feel they ever get clean. I know there’s rules and regulations, but it still gives me a creepy feeling.
A quick Google search just gives me rules and regulations for housekeepers themselves and not for the actual housekeeping. I’m sure each hotel has their own standard, but still….it’s done in factory-like procession going room-to-room. And the housekeepers don’t get paid near enough to clean some of the gross crap that people leave behind.
This is where I feel hotels are lacking. You’re paying sometimes several hundred dollars for a room (maybe a room and a half), a bathroom, maybe a fridge, and that’s about it. Yes you have amenities, but most people don’t capitalize on it. Unless you’re Ross in Friends, then you steal all of the shampoos, soaps, and free items from your Vermont Bed and Breakfast. But I digress. Hotels are expensive because of the “convenience.” You just have to decide if it’s really that convenient and if it’s worth it for you.
The average cost of a hotel room in Chicago (according to Business Insider) is $240 a night. On Kayak, I was finding rooms for $200/night during the week and $135/night on the weekend.
With a hotel, especially when on vacation, you’re likely going to be staying right in the mix of things. There’s usually a dozen or so hotels on the same strip that accommodates to tourists. You’ll be bombarded with coupons, deals, and excursions to “experience [INSERT YOUR DESTINATION HERE] life.” But, you’ll also be around a ton of chain restaurants, a crap ton of people, and be recommended places to go that are in cahoots with the hotel you’re staying at. This is often great for families or for people that aren’t keen on planning things, but not so great for those who want to dive balls deep into local culture.
BONUS – ORIGINALITY: Are hotels original? Sure, some specific hotels or resorts may be. But in general, if you’ve seen one then you’ve seen all. They all have a similar set-up and feel.
Airbnb was started in 2014 and offers a variety of housing options to travelers and those looking for a place to stay. You can rent as little as a single room within someone’s home to an entire multi-bedroom house. Once you get past the fact that you’re staying in someone’s home, it is a great experience.
I should mention that Airbnb is not legal in all cities and countries or there are some pretty tight laws on short-term rental regulations. Some places have outlawed it because it is said to be driving out residents to make room for rental opportunities (Airbnb hosts). Tourists are overrunning where once was a residential area. I’m not very educated on that, but understand enough to know that it’s stirred up quite a controversy.
Airbnb also has experiences (locally led trips or events such as a walking tour, eating like a local, a cooking class with a local, etc), but I’ll touch on that at a later date. If you want to, check it out here for yourself.
Here are what some of my friends had to say about Airbnb:
So more people weighed in on Airbnb than a hotel when I posted, “QUESTION FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES: Those of you who use Aibnb over a hotel, why? And vice versa. Those of you who use a hotel over Airbnb, why?” It seems to be transitioning to the traveling standard with younger crowds.
It may not be the most convenient in terms of booking. You have to put a decent amount of research into it in order to make sure you’re staying somewhere safe, with a verified host, and basically somewhere not sketchy. Once you do it a couple times, you know exactly what to look for and it becomes as easy as booking a hotel, though.
Airbnb can be convenient in terms of pricing. If you’re traveling with a group, you can easily book a multi-room house for the price of one hotel room. So not only does everyone get a bed or a room, you’ll get a kitchen, (possibly) more than one bathroom, and the sense of being together for much cheaper than multiple hotel rooms that might be on separate floors or opposite ends of the facility.
Check-in is also a little weird. This can fall under convenience or predictability, but I’m going to put it here. You could easily have a host that will great you at the apartment and check-in is as easy at a hotel. But you could also get a host that isn’t available to greet you or doesn’t live in the same city. This means you might have to find a lock box that has a key in it, put in a code, feel like a burglar, get the key, find the right door, then find the right apartment. It can go either way.
This is going to vary from place to place, but it’s not going to as much as what you get with a hotel, but in some ways can be better. Some hosts will provide breakfast foods, coffee, tea, fruits – my first Airbnb I stayed in gave us eggs, yogurt, juice, bread, the works. But with some hosts you’ll be lucky to find a glass for water.
The great thing about staying in someone’s home is that you typically have some type of cooking appliances. It may be a hot plate and a tea kettle, but it can cook you food if you need it. Also, some of the homes are equipped with a washer and drier, which is an amenity I always look for when scheduling long trips.
You may not always have Wi-Fi in these units, dependent on the host. TV might not be a thing. You might not have air conditioning. But everything is listed on the host’s ad page when booking. You just have to take the responsibility to research and find out.
One more thing to mention, the host can cancel at anytime. This doesn’t happen too often (that I know about), but it does happen. There are some ramifications and Airbnb customer service can be helpful (sometimes), but there is always that chance you’re going to be in a serious jam last minute.
Although the amenities vary, you can come out with some pretty great things you won’t find in a hotel.
Lol. There’s nothing predictable with Airbnb. The best advice here is to do your research and read the hell out of reviews. Also, leave reviews after your stay so you can pass that on to other travelers.
In my experience, the actual Airbnb hasn’t strayed far from the description. So that’s what you need to base predictability off of. The downside is that if something breaks or something isn’t up to the original description, there might not be someone that can come to the house ASAP to fix it. Or someone that is even willing to fix it.
I’m not saying that using Airbnb is a shot in the dark and you don’t know what you’ll end up with. But it is less predictable than a hotel.
Safety and Cleanliness
Again, this is going to vary on the host. The is supposed to clean the unit after each stay, but there are no regulations or upper management cracking down. Keeping everything tidy is in their best interest for review-sake, but that’s not to say it’s not missed once or twice.
In terms of safety, you need to do your research on neighborhoods and read the reviews. There isn’t going to be a 24/7 concierge or a security guard doing rounds (usually). If you feel unsafe, instead of calling a front desk, you’re going to have to call the police.
In a lot of cases, Airbnb has a hotel beat on value. But this is subjective. The average rate of an Airbnb in Chicago (not including downtown) is about $135/night for an entire apartment (~$200 downtown). That’s a whole apartment to yourself for less than a hotel room or almost equal to a hotel room, dependent on where you’re at. If you want a private room, you can get one for $75-100/night.
So it looks like you can get a whole apartment that has a kitchen, separate bedroom/living room, and a more “homey” feel for less than or almost equal to a single-room hotel room.
When staying in an Airbnb, you’re going to be in a more residential area most of the time. This means you might be staying in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a whole lot of tourist sites, but you get to experience a city like a local. There will be restaurants that aren’t catered to those traveling, you’ll have authentic shops, and it can be a more quiet area than a hotel strip.
That’s not saying all Airbnb’s are in a quiet, residential place. But a lot of the time you are renting out someone’s home, so it makes sense that it would be in a residential area.
On the contrary, this means you might have to travel further to see a lot of the main sites. Not always, but something you might want to think about. One part of the research when choosing an Airbnb is looking where it’s at on a map in relevance to sites you want to check out.
BONUS – ORIGINALITY: Airbnb has so many different options for housing. Hosts often do a great job at trying to make their home different to stand out from others. One thing that is different with Airbnb that you won’t find in a hotel is extravagant homes. You can rent a tree house, globes, igloos, bubble suites, a sheep wagon. Yep, I just said sheep wagon. Check out House Beautiful’s post on the 10 Most Unique Airbnb Rentals in 2018.
I’m going to review with the same image I gave you in the beginning. I think it lays it out nicely and I want to reiterate it.
There you go. There’s a lot of information to help you decide if a hotel or an Airbnb is right for you.
I took a poll on my Twitter asking other travelers what their preferred method of hospitality is. The result actually surprised me a little.
It’s split 50/50. I don’t know why I was surprised at this. Regardless, it shows that both options are viable and people use both when traveling.
Hopefully I provided you with enough information to make a choice for your next trip!
Have you tried Airbnb? Do you prefer Airbnb over a hotel? Or vice versa? Drop a comment and tell me your experience!
Be on the lookout for part two where I talk about my experience with Airbnb!
Here’s the referral link if the hyperlink above doesn’t work! www.airbnb.com/c/karliet
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