Stay At Airbnb Or Hotel? What Might Surprise You If It’s Your First Time Choosing

 

Lately, I find myself recommending Airbnb to my friends and family who travel or are going on vacation. If anyone ever asks whether we prefer to stay at an Airbnb or hotel, hands down the answer is the former! If your choice of accommodations is Airbnb versus hotel, we're here to let you know how you can decide which is right for you. While there are a lot of benefits to staying at an Airbnb, it may not be the right type of accommodation for some folks. However, those who have never used Airbnb to book a place to stay on their trip should really give it a try. It may seem strange if it's your first time, but that's what we're here for. Our tips on what to look for when booking a place will help you understand how it all works and why it may be a better option than staying at a hotel.

Airbnb or hotel - Apartment view Lisbon

I worked in the hospitality industry for almost 15 years before we started our digital nomad lifestyle. Working in hotels allowed me to get great discounts when I traveled and I loved trying out different hotel brands.

It was fun being able to stay at some great locations for cheap, especially since I was young and broke.

After a couple of years, though, they all started to look and feel the same. There is little that changes between hotel rooms as they are made to cater to the masses. So, essentially, they become very basic and lackluster.

Then came along Airbnb.

I'll tell you all about the great things that I love about using Airbnb and why we use them whenever we travel.

Airbnb or hotel - inside apartment in Budapest

Things You Should Know About If You're New To Airbnb

If you're a first-timer to the Airbnb concept, there are some basic things you should understand about how to use it. The Airbnb App makes it super easy to look for places to stay, no matter where your travels are taking you. We recommend installing it on your phone so that you can stay in communication with your "host" as you travel.

The host is the person that owns or runs the accommodation listed on Airbnb. Think of them as the front desk agent at a hotel.

Top Tips:

  • Check that the location is exactly where you want to be
  • Read the reviews carefully
  • Look through the photos
  • Read the description and amenities carefully
  • Know the House Rules
  • Make sure you are aware of the cancelation policy for the location
  • Be aware of the service fee

First, you will need to set up your profile. This is the place you can use to tell your host a bit about yourself and your travel style. Hosts also have a profile.

After each stay, your hots may give you a rating and some comments. You also have the ability to rate your stay and accommodations and give your feedback to the host.

new to Airbnb - outside apartment

What To Look For

You can do a search for the destination city you are traveling to and then add dates and filter by price and even the accommodation type. Typically, you get a lot of different choices in what amenities you want to have, how many beds you need, and whether you want to just rent a room or an entire house.

When looking through your search results, read the reviews carefully. See what people are really saying about the place they stayed in and their host. Sometimes, it will be easy to determine how you may feel about staying somewhere based on the things other's are saying. Skipping this or just looking at the rating stars may result in picking a location that is not quite what you expect.

Airbnb or hotel - apartment in Amsterdam

We would also encourage you to ask your host questions if there is missing information on the listing or you have something in particular you must have or know about before deciding on a place.

Don't forget to look through all of the photos. You may be able to tell you love (or hate) a place based on the photos. Don't rely solely on the pictures, though. Make sure to read the description. Sometimes things change from when those pictures were taken.

How To Decide If You Should Choose AirBnB or Hotel

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself:

Do you prefer to have exactly the same type of accommodation each time - no surprises?

Do you like being immersed in with locals in their neighborhood?

Some travelers like the feeling of knowing exactly what they are going to get because it's the same thing they are used to getting each time. Sticking with a hotel chain that you have experience with may be the way to go for such travelers. These are people who know everything about the hotel and room and don't want to have to figure out anything new.

This is not a bad thing.

Airbnb or hotel - view from apartment in Lisbon

If you travel a lot and know exactly what you want and find it with a hotel - stick with it. You will not be spending any time on figuring out where the amenities are located or how to use the room features (like the thermostat and where the light switches are, etc).

On the other hand, if the idea of the same, generic looking room and hotel smell make you sigh with disappointment, you might want to try Airbnb. Each accommodation is unique. You can pick the amenities you want and find a place that is more "personalized" and caters to your needs than a hotel would.

Airbnb or hotel - View from apartment in Budapest

Airbnb gives you a variety of options to choose from. The most you will get with hotels is a choice between a suite and a standard room and number of beds.

Maybe you are the type of person who doesn't care if there is a pool, but must have a kitchen to cook for yourself. Well, you get to pick and choose based on your needs with Airbnb.  It's more customizable.

Pros and Cons Of Airbnb Versus Hotels

As I mention above, you really have to ask yourself what kind of traveler you are when it comes to which type of stay will be best for you. There are some great benefits of staying with Airbnb that you will not get with hotels. However, depending on your travel needs, a hotel may be the choice for you.

Keep reading and see which works best for you.

Airbnb benefits Amsterdam neighborhood

Benefits Of Airbnb

It's no secret that we prefer Airbnb when we travel. Typically we love getting a studio or one-bedroom apartment. If we are not renting a long-term location, we get an apartment through Airbnb. We've had the best experiences with it and don't really see the value with staying at a hotel. Not only has working in hotels made us a bit tired of the same type of accommodations each time, but we are the type that loves to get immersed in the culture and people of the destinations we visit.

Airbnb lets you really experience a place.

Pros Of Airbnb include:

  1. Better value (usually cheaper than hotels)
  2. Authentic local experiences
  3. Customizability of accommodations
  4. Unique and different types of places to stay
  5. Ability to choose locations that are less touristy (hotels tend to be located more where the popular attractions are and where the crowds want to be.)


Airbnb benefits - authentic experience

For us, renting an apartment in Chiang Mai, Lisbon, Budapest, Amsterdam, and several other places has allowed us a glimpse into what it's like to live in these locations. Staying at a hotel is a good way to meet other tourists, but an apartment where the locals live shows you way more.

Being surrounded by other tourists may feel more comfortable to some, but we like having local neighbors. We like having the chance to see how they live and maybe even make new friends and get to know them and their culture.

This is the number one benefit, in our opinion.

I can't rave enough about how unique some of the Airbnb accommodations are. For example, we stayed in an apartment in Amsterdam overlooking one of the most famous canals. It felt like we were really living in Amsterdam, even though we were just visiting for the week. There is a no way any hotel room or suite could compare to staying in one of the historic building of Amsterdam along the canals!

Airbnb benefits - Lisbon view from window

Another example of this uniqueness factor is our apartment in Lisbon. We stayed in the Alfama neighborhood. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in all of Europe. The apartment was built on the solid rock that saved the area from the devastating earthquake of 1755. It felt like we were transformed through time, each night as the sounds of Fado echoed through the passages and up to our window. 

Looking out the window we didn't see a parking lot or pool courtyard with lounging tourists. We saw the locals across the way as they hung their laundry to dry. We smelled their cooking and heard their voices in their native tongues. These are the experiences that we value.

The Cons

Though we don't really consider the following anything negative about using Airbnb, we need to mention some things that might make some people not want to use it. It really depends on what you prioritize as being significant when looking for accommodations.

With Airbnb, there may be a little bit more involvement when booking and staying. Finding the location may be more difficult than a known hotel. You may have to communicate more with your host in regards to checking in. Most hotels have reception open 24 hours a day. You may need to coordinate your arrival to the location with your host so that you are able to get in even if you get there in the middle of the night.

There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to some of the accommodations when you book with Airbnb. Because each place is different and unique, you may have to read some instructions on how to use something in the place. Where hotels are pretty standardized to western culture, your Airbnb apartment might require you to figure things out when you first get in.

Airbnb pros and cons - Budapest apartment

Will you choose Airbnb or Hotel Next Time You Travel?

 We hope that we've provided you with the information to make the best decision for youself. Knowing a bit more about Airbnb may take some of the uncertainty out of booking and give you a chance to try it for the first time.

Check out some of the hotels and resorts we've stayed at:


Let us know about your experiences with Airbnb below in the comments.

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Taiss Nowrouzi

About the Author

Taiss Nowrouzi

Hi! I'm just a California girl addicted to travel and adventure with a passion for art and dance on the side. Born in Iran, but I consider myself a citizen of Earth, adhering to the belief that "The world is but one country and mankind its citizen." I strive to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and learn as much as possible from them. My degree out of college is in Marketing. However, I entered the hospitality business at an early age and worked my way up to hotel management. After about 13 years in that industry (5 of which I was a hotel assistant manager), I made the decision to move to Thailand and leave the 9 to 5 grind behind. My husband and I set off for a life of living abroad and hopes to continue traveling the world, just 3 months after our wedding. It all started with the two of us, along with our cat, together in Thailand. Can't wait to see where life takes us next!

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nathananga1@gmail.com'
Nathan

I’m still exploring with the different accommodation options there are out there. Recently when I visited Laos, I stayed in 3 guesthouses / motels so that really gave me a new perspective as well. So maybe hotels are too wide a generalisation to just cluster as one group – since there are really a wide range of them with different experiences for the traveller.

    taissnow@yahoo.com'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    You’re right! Guest houses are cute and fun experiences also and different from regular hotels.

samah_49@hotmail.com'
Sam

I love Airbnbs, I stay in them all the time for the variety of different housing you can get plus I love staying with locals. They’re also much cheaper so that’s a bonus. Great article, it rings very true!

teresa@broganabroad.com'
Teresa

I love airbnb! I try and stay on airbnb whenever I can, and the quirkier the better. I do, however, like boutique family run hotels too.

    taissnow@yahoo.com'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    I do like botique hotels as well. Anywhere that gives you a different perspective than being a regular tourist!

halfthisworldaway@hotmail.com'
Megan

I’ve been leaning more towards Air BnBs if im going to be staying somewhere for a longer period of time.. i like to have the use of a kitchen etc, but if its only a weekend break or a few days then I like the luxury of a hotel!

    taissnow@yahoo.com'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    I understand what you mean. It can be nice to have some luxuries for a quick getaway!

Kartik@katchutravels.com'
Katchutravels

I have stayed twice booking through an Airbnb in India’s west coast. Both the times these were hotels masquerading as home stays. But I like the concept and the beautiful locations where somrr individual homes are. Hope to try it this year.

    taissnow@yahoo.com'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    I hope you get some better, more authentic, experiences with your next Airbnb booking.

david@muckersiesmovements.com'
David

This is a decision that goes through my head every trip. It can vary for me but I generally go for hotels. Airbnb is so good when hotels are too expensive or if you’re looking for a place for a few more people. Thanks for this

    taissnow@yahoo.com'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Nothin g wrong with staying in hotels. Sometimes it can be a better choice depending on what your needs are.

bruce@bruceschinkel.com'
Bruce Schinkel

I love using AirBnB, and mostly for the reasons you’ve provided here. When travelling, we love being immersed in the local culture, and finding unique places to stay. Your questions to ask yourself when deciding which is for you are bang on!

Sherrie@TravelByASherrieAffair.com'
Sherrie Fabrizi Allbritten

Having done both several times myself, I replay like your article you bring up some great pro’s and con’s. For me its all about how comfortable I feel on where I am staying. I love to do Airbnb’s with groups of friends and/or family so that you can all be together!

backwoodstourist@yahoo.com'
Backwoods Tourist

We have found Airbnb to be life saver for travel. The average daily rate tends to be much cheaper than hotels, you get bedrooms and not just beds, and you can get multiple bathrooms! We have used the most quite a bit and actually have an apartment rented through them for NYC in 2 months! Great informative article for those who don’t know anything about Airbnb!!

    taissnow@yahoo.com'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    We totally agree with you! They make it so easy and convenient! Feels good to have a home away from home rather than just a plain room!

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