How to choose between a hotel and Airbnb

The boom of Airbnb and similar accommodation sharing sites like Booking.com has given us all a wealth of options when it comes to choosing where to stay. But how do you choose between a traditional hotel and the modern accommodation sharing sites? Here are some questions to ask yourself.

What is Airbnb, anyway?

Accommodation sharing sites like Airbnb or Booking.com give people a chance to rent out their property—or part of it—to short-term tourists.

Your “host” is the person who owns the property you’ll be renting. Sometimes you’ll just be staying in a room while the host still lives in the place, and other times the host won’t be there and you’ll have the place entirely to yourself for the whole length of your stay. You’ll know this in advance when you book.

Are you a culture seeker?

Airbnb is a great way to live like a local for a while. Often your host will be able to make some great suggestions for dining and activities that are off the beaten tourist track. This will give you a more authentic experience and insight into what life is really like for the people that live there. There are also more options for accommodation on the outskirts of the city centre, maybe in a neighbourhood you would not have visited otherwise. 

Are you a luxury traveller?

Hotels offer more amenities. There are some stunning Airbnb places out there, but they rarely come with 24-hour concierge and room service, access to a spa, or someone to make your bed. If you like to be pampered after a long day of sightseeing, only a hotel can offer you the full treatment.

On the other hand, some Airbnb places offer things like your own pool table in your apartment!

Are you on a budget?

Airbnb is often the cheaper option, especially if the size of your group means you’d need more than one room in a hotel. You’ll pay less for more space, and have access to a kitchen for cooking some low-cost meals. If there’s a washing machine in the house it’s usually free to use. You can also negotiate the price with your host, especially if you’re looking at a long-term stay. 

Are you keen to meet other travellers?

Hotels give you the chance to meet like-minded travellers during your trip. There are more places to run into people (lobby, lounge, hotel bar), and those people are almost guaranteed to be other visitors. With Airbnb, your neighbours will probably be going to and from work, and are unlikely to join you for the afternoon bus tour!

Are you with a group?

Airbnb is perfect if you’re looking to rent a larger space. You can find a three-bedroom house, an entire villa, or even a private island. The options and flexibility to accommodate a large group in one space are endless. It’s also cheaper to split the cost of a house on Airbnb than to book individual rooms for each of your group members.

Are you looking for something different?

Airbnb has some pretty unique accommodation options, from tree houses and tiny homes to igloos and castles! If you’re looking for a once in a lifetime accommodation experience, Airbnb is the place to find it.

Are you a points collector?

Hotel groups and booking sites often offer a rewards programme. Some might provide VIP benefits for frequent visitors, or a free booking after collecting enough points. Currently, Airbnb offers no such programme, but the cheaper accommodation offsets the value of reward points anyway.

There’s a whole world of exciting accommodation beyond hotels, so if you’ve not yet tried Airbnb, give it a go!