Hotel vs. Airbnb: Which Is Best For Your Next Vacation?

By Daniel Bortz
December 3, 2019
Dreamstime Xl 91724463
Igor Stevanovic |
Answer these questions to determine what lodging option is right for you.

The battle between hotels and Airbnbs has been waging since the peer-to-peer vacation rental company launched in 2008 – spurring a great debate between these two types of accommodations.

Deciding where to stay on your next trip, though, depends on what’s most important to you, since both lodging options have their share of pros and cons.

Need help determining whether a hotel or Airbnb is right for your next vacation? Ask yourself these questions.

How much space do I need?

One factor to consider is how many people you’re traveling with. A family of six could conceivably share a hotel room, but it would be a tight squeeze – and cramped quarters can put a damper on your vacation. (Teenagers want their space!) A large home through Airbnb would give your group more room to spread out.

Do I want to meet other travelers?

If you’re looking to strike up conversation with fellow travelers, hotels offer a number of shared spaces, such as the hotel bar, restaurant, or gym, where guests can mingle and meet people. Some Airbnb properties provide guests opportunities to socialize with other people through shared rooms or common spaces, but many of them don’t.

Do I want to live like a local?

Some travelers relish being able to experience a city like a local, which makes them preferential to Airbnbs. Moreover, many Airbnb owners give guests insider tips, such as their favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, watering holes, and hidden gems throughout the city. Some hosts will even meet you when you arrive and give you a tour of their city.

What services am I looking for?

Airbnbs don’t provide the same hospitality services that traditional hotels do, such as valet parking, bellhop, housekeeping, security, free breakfast, room service, and 24/7 concierge. Therefore, you need to assess how important these services are to you; if you don’t mind making your own bed, for example, an Airbnb may meet your needs.

Which is the cheaper option at my destination?

Want a budget friendly accommodation? Many travelers presume that hotels are more expensive than Airbnbs, but lodging prices vary depending on the city, a recent analysis of Airbnb and hotel rates by found. For example, in Charleston, NC, the average hotel rate per night was $180, while the average Airbnb nightly rate was only $112. But in Augusta, GA, the average Airbnb rate of $350.25 was more than triple the average hotel rate of $107. Those findings echo a study of hotel and Airbnb rates in popular cities. The takeaway? It pays to research hotel and Airbnb prices at your destination before making a reservation.

Another thing to consider: Airbnb hosts may be willing to negotiate their rate, depending on factors like demand and how many nights you’re staying. (A longer rental could help you nab a deal.)

Do I need a washer/dryer?

More than half (53%) of travelers surveyed by Clever Real Estate said they prefer Airbnbs because of household amenities. So, if you’re taking a long vacation where you’ll need to clean your clothes, staying at an Airbnb that has a washer and dryer offers convenience – and it can save you a ton of money, considering hotels charge top dollar for laundry services.

Do I want to cook my own meals?

Similarly, if you’re planning to cook while you’re on vacation, you’ll need a home with a kitchen where you can prepare meals. And though some hotels offer suites with kitchens, these hotel rooms are often pricey.

Do I have privacy concerns?

In the Clever Real Estate survey, 58% of travelers said they were concerned about hidden cameras when staying at an Airbnb – and 7% said they've stayed in an Airbnb where they discovered a hidden camera. (Eek!) Hotels, meanwhile, are held to security standards that prevent them from putting cameras in hotel rooms, giving guests peace of mind that they’re not being watched.

Am I comfortable staying in someone else’s home?

Many Airbnb hosts leave behind personal items, like family photos or religious keepsakes, that make some guests feel like they’re intruding. Meanwhile, hotel rooms are depersonalized and de-cluttered.

Do I want a guaranteed reservation?

In many cases, Airbnb hosts can cancel reservations with little or short notice to guests. If that happens, you could be left scrambling to find a place to stay. This is an area where hotels have a competitive advantage, since hotel reservations cannot be canceled unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as a natural disaster that renders the hotel uninhabitable.

Do I like to stay at the same hotel chain?

If you’re a frequent traveler, you may be able to earn nice perks, such as complimentary room upgrades or even free nights, through a hotel’s loyalty program. (Despite rumors of an alleged “Superguest” program, Airbnb has not rolled out a loyalty program for travelers.)

The verdict

Deciding between a hotel and an Airbnb is a big decision – one that hinges on a variety of factors. Some travelers prefer to be pampered by a luxury hotel, while other travelers could not care less about having 800-thread-count bed sheets or turndown service. By answering these questions honestly, you’ll be able to determine the best lodging option for your needs.

Plan Your Next Getaway
Keep reading
Travel Tips

These Are The Safest Countries in The World for Travelers in 2020

The organization released its 11th annual Travel Risk Map, an interactive map which predicts the safest and most dangerous places to travel in 2020, as well as the biggest issues travelers will face. Countries were ranked in different risk categories: insignificant, low, medium, high and extreme. The Nordic nations were grouped in 'insignificant', along with Switzerland, Greenland and Slovenia. The US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and most of Europe were rated as having a "low" level of travel risk, in addition to Argentina, Japan, China and Namibia.According to International SOS, criteria was based on "the current threat posed to travelers by political violence, social unrest, as well as violent and petty crime." Other factors include transportation infrastructure, industrial relations, the effectiveness of security and emergency services and susceptibility to natural disasters. Those ranked as having a "medium" risk level include Russia, India, South Africa, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Mozambique, Brazil and Indonesia. The report considers Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan to be "extreme" risk countries due to ongoing conflicts, while Mexico has a mixed rating. The states of Chihuahua and Tamaulipas are considered "high" risk, while the rest of the country is deemed "moderate". India, Egypt and Madagascar also have mixed ratings. If you have any health or security concerns about a country you're planning to visit, it's always best to check your government's travel advisory reports.

Travel Tips

Cheap Places to Fly in 2020

An unexpectedly cheap flight can facilitate the latter, and to help travelers plan for adventure in the new year, Scott’s Cheap Flights has crunched the numbers, examining new and existing airline routes, historic pricing trends, and fare data from 2019 to forecast 20 cheap destinations to look for in 2020. “Travel is always a top New Year’s resolution, but the cost of flights deters many of us from making those dreams a reality,” founder Scott Keyes said in a press release. “Fortunately, we are living – right now – in the Golden Age of cheap flights. Far from affordable flights being impossible to find, it’s never been as cheap to fly internationally as it is today.” To be clear, these aren’t necessarily bargain-basement fares – they’re good-value destinations that should become less expensive than in years past. Places like Japan, for example, saw new routes to additional gateway cities in 2019, which brought down prices and increased competition – a trend that looks set to continue next year, especially factoring in interest generated by the summer Olympic games and the launch of even more routes between the US and Tokyo’s Haneda airport.The email subscription service also expects to see a bump in deals to East Africa – and to Nairobi specifically – in 2020. That’s thanks in large part to Kenya Airways’ enrollment in the Air France/KLM partnership and daily flights from Paris and Amsterdam that resulted from the partnership, which made it easier to connect via Europe than ever before. Deals to the volcanic archipelago of Cape Verde, or Cabo Verde as it’s also known, are expected as well, thanks to TAP Air Portugal’s continued expansion between the US and the island nation.In the Southeast Asia market, Malaysia tends to represent a better bargain than its regional neighbors. All Nippon Airways is known for running deals (in partnership with United) from US cities like Chicago, New York, Houston, Seattle, and Washington, DC via Tokyo, and as the hub for budget carrier AirAsia, you can often find flights from Kuala Lumpur to nearby locales like Bali, Myanmar, and Phuket for less than $100 roundtrip.Much of Europe feels like well-trod territory at this point, but the tiny principality of Liechtenstein is a somewhat unexpected option, with fairytale-fodder castles and a national trail network that makes it easy to trek from one end of the 160 sq km country to the other. At approximately nine times the size of Washington, DC, it’s so small that it doesn’t have its own airport, but Zürich is a short train ride away, and good fares are often available from the US – a likelihood that should roll over into 2020 as Swiss International Air Lines adds direct flights from DC.Stateside, 2019’s fare war between Delta and Alaska Airlines brought a plethora of deals to routes between Seattle and Alaska, and that shows no signs of abating in 2020. Look for low prices from Delta hubs like Minneapolis and Detroit to Anchorage and Fairbanks, as well as bargain fares from Alaska’s west coast hubs. For the full list of the 20 places to go on cheap flights in 2020, visit

Travel Tips

5 Steps to Booking a Hotel Deal Anytime

We love asking "Where will you go next?" and then showing you how to seal the deal, pack your bags, and go. Our Book a Hotel tool (see the button on the top right of this page) literally puts the world at your fingertips, helping you to research and book hotels, motels, B&Bs, and other lodging anywhere in the world through our partners at Here are five easy steps to nabbing a good deal anywhere, anytime. 1. Choose a destination and your travel dates On the upper left of our book-a-hotel page, you'll find a box where you can enter the name of the destination you’re thinking of visiting and your check-in and check-out dates. You may enjoy trying to stump the database, but you'll soon find that it can find you lodging just about anywhere, from Mali to Maui, from Bali for Birmingham. 2. Review lodging options Hit "Search" and a list of available lodgings will appear (in rare cases, a destination such as a small town or remote park will offer only one or two nearby lodgings, but typically you'll get quite a list to choose from). You can choose to view lodgings by price, or view the database's top picks, which represent properties that are frequently booked and have been well-reviewed by customers. (Top picks may be especially desirable if you're visiting an area that's new to you or where you'll be unfamiliar with the language or customs.) 3. Get a little picky We encourage you to push the database to suit your needs, employing the menu on the lower left of the hotel listings. You can filter for common factors such as price range, complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, kitchen, swimming pool, and more. 4. Read reviews and the fine print The listing of lodgings gives preference to frequently booked and well-reviewed properties, so you may not need to go deep into user reviews. But reviews are ample if you choose to take a peek. You'll also want to review a property's "fine print" and policies regarding children, smoking, pets, and other important details. 5. Reserve your room You may especially love how quickly you can select and reserve your room, and you will not be asked for banking or credit card information, simply your name and email address. Yup, our booking tool is that easy, and we hope it makes it a little easier to answer that question we started with: "Where will you go next?"

Travel Tips

Flight Delayed? Here Are 7 Things You Should Do Immediately

Finding out your flight has been delayed can feel like the travel gods have conspired against you, and all the sudden you’re stuck feeling helpless. Well, don’t panic! There are some steps you can take to minimize the pain if you act quickly. Here’s how to get your travel plans back on track the next time you encounter a delayed flight. Find out why the flight is delayed Flights get delayed for a variety of reasons. So start by contacting your airline (by talking to a representative at the check-in desk, or by phone if you haven’t arrived at the airport yet) to find out why you won’t be departing on time. By federal law, major US airlines must report the causes of flight delays. According to the US Department of Transportation, there are five types of flight delays: Air Carrier. The delay was due to circumstances within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, aircraft cleaning, baggage loading, or fueling. Extreme Weather. Tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes, or other inclement weather can cause flight delays if the airline deems it’s unsafe to fly. National Aviation System (NAS). These delays, which are issued by the national aviation system, include non-extreme weather conditions, airport operations, heavy traffic volume, and air traffic control. Late-arriving aircraft. A previous flight with the same aircraft is running behind. Security. Such delays are a result of evacuation of a terminal or concourse, re-boarding of an aircraft because of security breach, inoperative screening equipment, and long lines in excess of 29 minutes at screening areas. Although there are no federal laws requiring airlines to provide passengers with money or other compensation when their flights are delayed, knowing what the cause is can help you act accordingly. For example, if your flight is running behind because the plane is being refueled, you can probably expect a short delay – but if there’s a tornado in the forecast you may be in for a longer wait or even a canceled flight. Tap your smartphone Download your airline’s mobile app if you haven’t done so already. You can use it to check departure statuses, and some apps let you change itineraries without having to speak to an agent in person or by phone, which can save you a lot of time. Also download AirHelp – it’s an app that allows you to check if you’re eligible to receive compensation for a delay or cancellation. Check your connecting flight’s status This one might be obvious, but it’s still a crucial step. If you’re trying to catch a connecting flight, you’ll want to find out what that flight’s status is. In some cases, your airline may have to put you on a different route in order to get you to reach your final destination. See if your credit card provides trip interruption insurance If your flight is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay at a hotel, your credit card company may reimburse you for expenses, such as meals and lodging, if the airline doesn’t cover the costs. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card covers you and your family for up to $500 per ticket of certain non-reimbursed expenses, including meals, lodging, and toiletries, as long as your flight is not delayed in your city of residence. (Of course, you must have paid for your plane ticket with the credit card.) Lodge a complaint on social media If your flight isn’t the only one that’s been delayed – which often happens when there are extreme weather conditions – your airline’s phone line and airport staff can get overwhelmed. The upshot: you may be able to get a faster response if you file a complaint on Facebook or Twitter. To increase your exposure – and, in turn, improve your chances of getting a response quickly – weave appropriate hashtags into your post, and see what’s trending: If a lot of other flyers are tweeting #JetBlueFail, for instance, follow their lead. Stay calm and collected Taking a friendly, composed approach can go a long way when you speak to any customer service agent, but it’s especially important when dealing with airline representatives. If you throw a tantrum, the agent will be less inclined to offer you a hotel or meal voucher. Also, remember: it’s not the person’s fault your flight has been delayed. So take an even tone, avoid using foul language, and refrain from making personal attacks. (“Why are you so bad at your job?”) Find fun ways to kill time Sure, no one likes being stuck at an airport, but you don’t need to sit around and wallow in your self-pity. Many airports, both in the US and abroad, offer a wide array of activities and exceptional food. For example, Chicago O'Hare International Airport offers an interactive play area for kids that features child-sized model airplanes and a control tower. Meanwhile, art lovers can enjoy the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport's permanent exhibit, “Zimbabwe Sculpture: a Tradition in Stone,” which features 20 stone sculptures from the South African country. Facing a long delay? Go out and do some sightseeing. Just make sure you’re back at the airport with ample time to go through security; after all, the last thing you want to do is miss your flight and then have to wait even longer to get to wherever it is you’re going.