Thoughts on Airbnb: Why I Like It And Why I Don’t

Thoughts on Airbnb


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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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

thoughts on airbnb

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 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?

  • Megan

    Soo….I really liked this post. I agree with almost everything you said. Airbnb can be more expensive than hotels, they can be in crappy locations, and they can be too much space! Totally get all of that. And I totally agree with having to be smart and looking at locations before renting. However, for me that has been a benefit. I’m geographically challenged and when I start the process of planning a vacation and have to do research on areas and look at a map of the city to rent the airbnb, it helps me get my bearings. Remember when I sent the map of the neighborhoods of New Orleans? That was from booking our house. I also totally get booking a hotel for a relaxation and vacation feeling without worrying. After having trouble getting the key into the front door of our NOLA place I was frustrated. There was no front desk to go talk to. I think I’m going to start using hotels for actual vacations as opposed to trips where we are going non-stop. Love this post. You did a great job of discussing both sides! :)

    • Macy Volpe

      Thank you, it means a lot coming from you ๐Ÿ˜‰ I totally understand being forced to check locations and look at neighborhoods because it makes you better acclimated when you arrive. I like to do that even when I am staying in a hotel, just to know where I can get breakfast or anything else. I don’t handle stress well, especially with doors, so I am pretty sure I would have freaked out without the key working. I think this stems from the black door handle at home, when we come home at night, we can never see where the hole is and I get so frustrated, so I absolutely understand.

  • Heidi

    Great lists! I think all points are dead on. I’d add to the positives that a lot of Airbnbs have kitchens so you can cook. Even if it costs the same as a hotel, you save a lot of money by cooking instead of eating out for three meals a day. That’s a huge draw for us since we are usually on a tight budget when traveling. We still go out to eat a couple times, but we save A LOT of money when we’re able to prepare our own meals. I also sort of disagree with the luxury aspect. I don’t equate vacation to having to feel luxurious. For me, it’s more about experiencing the culture and daily life of a new place, so luxury isn’t really important. I like to stay in a luxurious hotel every once in a while for an overnight trip somewhere just for fun, but I like to feel as if I’m at home or really immersed in the location when I’m on longer trips.

    • Macy Volpe

      Thank you! Having a kitchens is a big benefit, I should have mentioned that, I just often overlook it because I don’t enjoy cooking. I somewhat agree that it isn’t always about the luxury, but for me it depends on where we go. If we are going to another city for a weekend, living the “daily” life is more fun, but if I am going to another country, I would prefer to have more luxuries, including someone always there to help you with language barriers, getting lost, etc. or if I am taking a full on vacation to get away from the stresses of daily life.

  • Jacquelyn @ Lowcountry Mama

    I only will book an Airbnb if it’s significantly cheaper than hotels. If they were the same price, I’d go hotel, every single time. I like the whole check-in, luxury, familiarity aspect of a hotel. When I go on vacation I don’t always want to “live like a local”. Love this post- pinning!

    • Macy Volpe

      That is how I feel as well, but most of the time there isn’t much of a price difference, so I go for a hotel. I would say 7 times of out 10, I want the luxurious feeling when I am on vacation, and the security of staying in a hotel.

  • Jasmine @makingrestorations

    Great post Macy. I do find myself wanting to like Airbnb a little more than I actually do (since we don’t like chain hotel rates). When we do use it, we always rent a full place to ourselves, which is nice to be able to cook and save money. Also, I’m accustomed to staying at residences with punch codes (not keys). I think whether it works well really depends on the geography, many European markets thrive with AirBnb while others don’t.

    • Macy Volpe

      Thank you, Jasmine! I have really found that doing research on hotels has helped with the cost, and once you add in the cleaning fee and the Airbnb fee, it ends up being more than a hotel. Staying somewhere with a push code would be much better, I haven’t had that yet. One of my best friends has a few places on Airbnb located in Paris and she said it’s almost always booked.

  • Lauren

    Great post, Macy! I’ve only stayed in an AirBnb once, and that was with two other girls when I went to Boston last year. It was an amazing house with beautiful antiques in it, and it was only two blocks from our office. There are some places I’ve found when exploring AirBnb which seem amazing (like when I was dreaming of going to Costa Rica and staying in a treehouse), but there really is something about the luxury of a hotel that always gets me. So really, I’m glad to have both options, but if I’m not going to get some super cool house, I’ll take a hotel ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Macy Volpe

      Thank you! It is definitely worth it when it comes to staying with other people, and you can find the cutest places. I just love knowing I have a specific place with a certain standard when I am on vacation.

  • Bourbon & Lipstick

    We’ve thought of using it when we get to travel, but my SO is against it! Thanks for your input!

    • Macy Volpe

      I would absolutely understand why, it’s fun to give it a try but I would prefer hotel.

  • Mattie @ Mattie’s Makings

    I am a huge fan of airbnb or VRBO if I’m traveling within the United States, especially for group travel. I’ve found that when I’m traveling with friends, it really is so much cheaper to stay in one place, and I find that we are able to spend more quality time together than all of us staying in separate hotel rooms! I will admit, I have thought about the key thing before – kind of scary! haha

    • Macy Volpe

      I find that it is much easier and cheaper for group travel, but I think that is the only time I would chose a Airbnb over a hotel. Knowing I have a specific place with a certain reputation is important if I am traveling alone or just with my Husband.

  • Ashley @ Wandering Weekenders

    We prefer to stay in hotels too, but Airbnb really is awesome for groups. We stayed in one when we visited Nashville with our brother and sister in law, and we’re staying in one for our Portland trip with some friends of ours. Trying to find the right location really is difficult for Airbnb too though. I think we lucked out with Nashville.

    • Macy Volpe

      I agree- I love Airbnb for groups, that is typically the only time I would rather stay in one. When it is just me, or me and Dave, I would much rather a hotel.

  • Jenn

    Yeah, I think I’d stick with hotels for now just because of the safety thing and because most of the time I don’t know the residential areas enough to know if that is a safe area.

    • Macy Volpe

      Absolutely agree! There are too many things happening right now and I feel so much safer in a hotel. I know that 24/7 someone is there to assist me.

  • Lisa

    I love your perspective on this! I’ve never been a guest in an Airbnb, so I love hearing your pros and cons. I am definitely excited to try Airbnb as a guest now that we’ll be traveling with kids, because it’s definitely not going to be ideal to all cram into one hotel room anymore!

    • Macy Volpe

      Thank you! I totally get that staying with kids is easier in a bigger place, and it could end up being cheaper. I feel like as a host, you should get a discount ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Kristyn | Dash of Herbs

    I love Airbnb and so far we have never had an issue. We always book the entire house (sharing with random people is creepy), but I like Airbnb more than a hotel because there is the option to have a full kitchen if I want to cook one night. All of the hosts we have had have been amazing and so great. The safety issue hasn’t really been a problem for us either (we use Google maps to find out where we are staying and if it’s in a great area) or I use recommendations by friends who have stayed there. I have one friend who uses Airbnb internationally and loves it, so I always ask her her opinion about places they have stayed (they stay in them in the US too).

    • Macy Volpe

      I would never feel comfortable sharing a space with other people, so I totally agree that you have to get the entire house. I really can’t stand cooking, so I never really thought about getting a place with a kitchen, but that makes a lot of sense. We normally buy stuff for sandwiches and breakfast bars when we travel because you can get it from a Target or Walmart and just leave it in the mini-fridge. So if we eat lunch ourselves we can “splurge” for dinner. My best friend has a few Airbnb rentals in Paris and she said the market there is totally different and there are hardly ever any “cons” to staying in a European Airbnb. It’s one of my goals to try more this year, I just can’t get away from hotels all the way ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Emelia @ Dream Big & Buy the S

    I haven’t heard of it until recently, and see more and more people doing it. I like staying in different hotels…while I think the Airbnb would be good for a group the safety thing really is a concern. It is so easy to make a copy of a key-you’re right.

    • Macy Volpe

      I totally agree- staying with groups makes this so much easier, and lessens the safety problems since you are with multiple people. But I love the accommodations and amenities a hotel provides.

  • Beth | PacesAndPlaces

    I agree with you. For a group, AirBnB can get great, but I’m always hesitant to use it if it’s just my husband and me. And we had a bad experience with it too. I like that you can be pretty confident with the location and quality of a hotel, which is something you definitely don’t get with Air BnB.

  • Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine

    I just rented an AirBnB for a big group of us for when we head to Nashville this summer. But I’ve used it quite a few times before too! I think some of the reasons you brought up were really good for me to think about. I will say, though, that AirBnB is getting better with their neighborhood guides. That’s something I love. :)

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