Airbnb or Hotels: Which is best for you?

When Airbnb really started taking off in 2011, it was a sign the sharing economy was here to stay. It made sense. It saved everyone money. It was fun, personal and easy to use. And it built trust among strangers – a value we seem to crave, given many of us spend more and more time glued to screens.

Some thought it also marked the beginning of the end for hotels. It was a shift into a more personal, thoughtful and economical form of accommodation. Perhaps hotels would go the way of landlines and horse-drawn carts?

And while, like the ride-sharing company Uber, the growth of Airbnb has been exponential and all pervasive, it hasn’t spelt the end of hotels. Or, at least, not yet. Airbnb turned a profit for the first time ever in the second half of 2016, and revenue grew by over 80% over that year, so it’s still in its infancy.

But will hotels ever die? We’ve taken a look at the Airbnb vs. hotels debate and laid out the pros and cons of both.

Airbnb

The Pros

  • It’s cheaper – If you’re looking for discount accommodation, more often than not an Airbnb room is cheaper than a hotel. This is especially true for longer stays.
  • It’s better value – Airbnb is also usually better value – bigger bedrooms and living spaces, better quality furnishings and fittings, better locations.
  • It’s friendlier – If you’re staying in the same house as your host, you’ll probably get to chat and they can give you tips and things to see and do in the neighbourhood. Many listings are for a whole apartment or house (or castle or igloo), which means you might not get to meet your host. However, many people still find living in someone’s home more comfortable than a hotel.
  • It’s flexible and easy to use – The Airbnb app is easy to use – and you can use it both here in Australia and when booking overseas. You can message your potential host before booking, to ensure it’ll be the right fit. Many hosts are also quite flexible, with little or no fees for changing or cancelling your dates.
  • It’s a unique experience – Unlike most hotel rooms, every Aibnb listing is unique and you’ll bring home a different story from each stay.

The Cons

  • It can be less private – When you rent just one room, rather than a whole apartment or house, you’ll be sharing with your host/s. Some people find this lack of privacy uncomfortable. However, you can always rent a whole apartment if this is a problem (though this will be more expensive).
  • It’s less predictable – While you can see photos of Airbnb listings and chat with hosts, you still never know exactly what you’ll get with Airbnb.
  • Check-in times are less flexible – Unlike a hotel with a concierge, Airbnb relies on hosts to check in guests. If your host works full time and they don’t have a lock box, this can really restrict the time you can check in. It’s best to check with your host before booking.

Hotels

The Pros

  • They’re reliable – With hotels, you know what you’re going to get. It’s like eating fast food. If you don’t want the hassle of talking with hosts, this is much easier. If you’re booking overseas, you may also find it easier to book through hotel booking sites if language barriers are a problem.
  • They’re private – Hotels offer total privacy. No sharing with hosts or other guests.
  • Check-in times are more flexible – Most hotels have a concierge, which makes checking in easy.
  • They’re often more family friendly – Hotels are often easier for families, as they often have better facilities for children.
  • They offer daily cleaning – If you like daily room service, you’re better off in a hotel. Some Airbnb listings offer this too, but you should check first.
  • They have more amenities – If you’re looking for a gym, bar, restaurant, swimming pool or jacuzzi, hotels offer a lot more than most Airbnb listings.

The Cons

  • They’re more expensive – This is a big negative. Hotels are much more expensive than Airbnb.
  • They’re less friendly – Hotels don’t offer the friendly warmth of an Airbnb.
  • They’re more generic – Hotels can be soulless in comparison to staying in someone’s home.
  • Less personal – If you are somebody that enjoys a social chat or history around the area hotel staff are less likely to have the time to show you the best of the area or give recommendations on establishments outside of the hotel. Airbnb hosts can often offer great local insights into the best places to eat, drink and visit.

And finally...

If you want to a more homely experience – that’s far cheaper – go for Airbnb. It’s also better for exploring and getting new experiences.

However, if you want reliability, flexibility and daily cleaning, room service, gym, bar and restaurant, total privacy…go for a hotel. It’s more expensive, but there are fewer hassles.

Remember to always check reviews and book in advance, for both hotels and Airbnb. Know what’s important to you first. Then decide. Also remember to use a credit card to book accommodation so that you’re covered with some purchase protection in case anything falls through.

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