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A few weeks ago I shared my thoughts on booking a hotel room, and then coincidentally my friend Megan had a post about why she would rather stay in a Airbnb instead of a hotel. This made me think about how many people prefer one over the other, or don’t really have a preference. I had this post planned to simply be my reasons for not enjoying Airbnb, but thinking about some other reasons, it does sometimes work out better than a hotel, so I’m sharing both for and against.
If you aren’t familiar with Airbnb, it is a home-sharing service where you can rent a house, private room or a shared room. You go about reserving it similarly as you would a hotel, put in your destination, travel dates and then search for a location. There are also several filters to give you the best search results, number of guests, number of rooms, price, neighborhood, amenities, etc. All similar to booking a hotel.
Once you find the right location with the right filters, you are able to look through the listings, see photos, read the description and reviews, and learn more about the host. Depending on the type of rental, the host will either be available on the property if it is a shared listing, or they will mention how they keep the house clean while you are renting (they might be on property in another house, or in another state). All of these details can help to determine if the location is a fit, then you are able to either message the host to apply for a reservation, or “instant book” if the host has that option turned on. Hopefully all of that is easy to understand 😉
Now onto my reasons against using Airbnb:
- Location. This is more about filtering than anything, but then prices will also go up. If you are traveling somewhere new, you likely won’t be familiar with the area, therefore might not know where a safe place to stay is. I have learned to look up the address or area on Google earth before I book a stay, which helps some, but I’m not sold. I like that the majority of hotels are in a popular area- like a city.
- Sleeping in someone else’s house. Growing up, it took me a really long time into a friendship to be comfortable sleeping over at someone’s house and I think these feelings relate to that somewhat. While not all Airbnb locations will be permeant residences, a lot of them are which gets to me a little bit.
- Safety. Knowing that several other people have used the same keys to get into wherever you are staying is unsettling to me. It would be very easy for someone to make a copy of a house key, or even for the owner to come and go as they wish while you are staying in their rental. Typically when I am staying in a hotel I will keep the do not disturb sign on the door so nobody else should enter my room throughout my stay.
- So much space. When its just me and Dave on a trip, I like to spend quality time together and sometimes I think renting a house takes away from this. We could just rent a room instead of an entire place, but then we are sharing it with other people. This isn’t always a terrible thing, just personal preference.
- Bad experiences. I have had a terrible experience with a rental, and then other mediocre rentals. I know that not all places will leave a bad taste, but I don’t like taking a gamble, especially when it’s about where I am sleeping and leaving my things while I am out and about.
- You might not get the luxury feeling. Since you are simply staying in someones house, you might not get the full getaway feelings when you are traveling. Depending on where we are going, this could be really nice, but oftentimes I like it to feel like I am actually on away for time off.
- Cancelations. Most of the properties I have looked at have a strict cancellation policy. This goes back to the amazing customer service that hotels.com provides, they will do everything possible to get your money back to you if you have to cancel, even a few days before. I have also learned that cancelations by hosts can happen, and there might not be something you can do about it. Most recently, I booked an amazing house in New Orleans in a beautiful looking neighborhood, and then the host cancelled the reservation a few weeks later. Thankfully, there were other options when this happened, but it did cause some unnecessary stress. Airbnb did give us a 10% credit to book another place, but only if we went above what we had currently paid.
Reasons why I do like Airbnb:
- Traveling with a group. When you are going somewhere with a group of people, or even 4+ it is really nice to all be in the same place. It can be frustrating to book several hotel rooms, and hope that you are all nearby or on the same floor. With Airbnb you can look for a listing with enough space for everyone, and also split the price.
- Great for unique places. If you are traveling somewhere that has the option for a really unique listing, I would be more inclined to go for it. For example when Annie stayed in a treehouse, the sailboats you can find in Annapolis, or this tiny house in Seattle.
- See a different part of town. This goes against one of my reasons for being against, but I think it could easily go both ways. I would first check into the safety of the neighborhood, but it is often nice to stay in a lesser known area and find cool things to do. Maybe a few minutes outside of the city, or on an island off of a main city.
- Price but only sometimes. This is a hit or a miss, I often find that hotels are about the same price as a Airbnb in many locations, but you might find a really good deal if you look hard enough. In relation to traveling with a group, it will likely be cheaper for everyone to share the price of a house.
- Location. You might be able to find an Airbnb in an area that isn’t as popular for nicer hotels. For example on the coast in Europe, or right next to the eiffel tower. These are locations where people are more likely to live, therefore a hotel might not be an option.
If you want more information you can check out the website or sign-up here. If hosting sounds like something you would like to do, Lisa has a great post about her thoughts on the first month of renting a portion of her house.
Have you ever used Airbnb?