With the proliferation of Airbnb, low-cost international flights, and consumer spending shift to experiences, the world is now smaller than ever. One can choose to experience a country "just like a local" by renting a home or find a hotel deal on numerous online travel booking sites.
The biggest question has always been whether to use a home-sharing service like Airbnb and VRBO or hotel. I'm excluding hostels and communal living spaces for now, because I prefer to have my own room with private bathroom.
Benefits of Airbnb:
- More space per dollar spent - A typical Airbnb studio will be much larger than a typical hotel room. You will likely have access to a kitchen which allows you to cook your own meals.
- More conveniently located to neighborhood amenities - A lot of Airbnb homes will be located in residential neighborhoods with unique characteristics like cafes, restaurants and parks that hotel locations are not likely to have access to.
- Higher likelihood of faster Internet included - Hotels usually share a single broadband line or will make you pay for it. Most Airbnb homes will come equipped with dedicated, high speed Internet.
- Hosts as local guides - You are more likely to receive insider information on the best, new restaurants or bars that no one knows about.
Benefits of Hotels:
- Consistent quality service - Hotels provide services like daily cleaning, security and concierge. With hotels, you can expect a fairly consistent quality across brands.
- More conveniently located to tourist attractions and transport - Hotels tend to be located near major points of interest for tourists and/or business people. They also make it easy for their guests to get around town, if needed.
- Reliability - A hotel reservation is immediate and binding. You can also rely on hotels for last-minute reservations.
- On-site amenities - A hotel could have one or many of the following: gym, pool, sauna, restaurants, and parking.
Both Airbnb and hotels have great advantages (and disadvantages). Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether Airbnb or hotel is better for you.
What type of trip is it? (Business or Leisure)
If it's a business trip, you're better off staying at a hotel for peace of mind. A business traveler's worst nightmare is having an Airbnb host cancel on you during a conference.
How long is your trip?
Any trip less than 3 days, it will be more convenient to stay at a hotel. If you're staying longer than 3 days, I would consider using a home-sharing service.
What is your budget?
On average, home-shares are priced lower than their hotel counterparts. However, time is your most valuable asset. A hotel's convenient location and amenities can be much better suited for your needs.
Where are you going?
In US and Europe, home-shares offer significantly better value their hotel counterparts. However, in Asia, you'll more likely get better value staying at hotels.
In many cases, I found hotels to be better suited for my travel needs, especially with more frequent trips and loyalty programs. However, if I am staying in a place for an extended period, I am more comfortable in an environment that feels like home.