Accommodation Rumble – Air BnB versus Hotels

Yes, I’m branching out in my rumbles from cities to, you know, other things. And today I’m looking at accommodation, and yes – I know there are more options out there for places to stay. There’s bnbs, hostels, camping to name a few, but today I am just specifically talking abou Air Bnb and the ol’ staple of the traveler, the hotel.

Courtyard at the Hotel San Francisco, Quito

Of course, there are a range of options for both of these categories. In Air Bnb you can rent a place for yourself, or you can get a room in someone’s house so it’s like a homestay. Hotels have a lot of categories, and quality varies with star ratings and whatnot. So which is better?

Well for me, I look for a number of different things where I’m looking for a place to stay. One thing is sure, in 2017 people are booking mostly through the internet. And Air BnB as far as I know is exclusively an internet-only venture. The one website lets you view all of the choices on their book.

From my Air Bnb window, Salta

Hotels on the other hand, well, there are about a gazillion websites that gather hotels to compare. You know some of them – expedia, booking dot com, trivago, wotif dot com – personally I prefer Hotels dot com – they give me rewards for booking, 10 nights equals a free night.

Hotel chains have their own websites too, and then many individual hotels have a personal website as well.  So the internet is loaded with choices. And some places even crossover from Air BnB to hotel websites. For booking, hotels have so many choices. And that means different prices too, Air BnB you only have the one price. But that in turn means you don’t have to – and can’t – shop around. Is that a good or bad thing?

Air BnB in an apartment for yourself. It’s full of pluses – cooking for yourself, more space, it feels like home. Although I have to say my experiences most of the place I stayed at were a bit poky as far as size goes. In a place like Paris for instance, well, apartments are generally small. So, you’re unlikely to find something that’s spacious anyway. However, we found there was no air conditioning either nor was there any fans in the place. In a hotel that’s usually not an issue. It was incredibly hot whilst we were there in late May this year. I did not get much sleep.

Bed in Paris apartment

The hotel prices weren’t much different to the apartment prices in Paris. In some places though, Air BnB can save you a lot of money. Especially if you’re in a private room like I was in Cuenca and Salta last year. Shared facilities, but you get to spend time with locals, which I think is always a rewarding experience. Now, I’ve been to some hotels with friendly staff who have been really helpful, but it’s not the same thing.

Of course, if you’re looking to book tours then you might be better off in a hotel or guesthouse. And your hotel might have a restaurant which is always handy, as you can’t cook like you can in an Air BnB rental. In hotel though, if you have an issue there is always someone there to see to it. In Air BnB, well, it can be tricky if you have the apartment to yourself. My TV reception never worked the whole week I was in London. Someone tried to fix it but had no luck. And the power bill had to be paid – I was half a day no power! So, it can be problematic in many ways. In Paris the internet went down and never came back up for the final few days.

Communication can be an issue in either circumstance, but I feel it’s more likely in Air BnB. And I must say – I love a buffet breakfast included in your hotel price too!

All in all, both have their pluses and minuses. I really liked staying with locals in Air BnB, but I felt my experiences in single apartment rentals were less satisfying. You can get a little closer to the centre sometimes for a little less in price.

Exterior of Ibis Posto 5, Copacabana. From the Accor website.

I’d say I prefer hotels. But I’ve only used Air BnB five times, and perhaps I was unlucky. But I think I chose okay with Air BnB. As I said I really liked staying with locals. But I feel with a choice between apartment rental and hotels, I actually prefer the convenience of a hotel. How about you? What’s your preference? Please do comment!! May the Journey Never End!

7 comments

  • Hi Andy,
    Great post!
    We have to say Airbnb is the way to go for us. John traveled for business and has seen more hotel rooms then he cares!
    We really like having our own space to come back to after seeing all the sites and being able to relax and cook some meals is a real plus. We have stayed at dozens of Airbnb and all our experiences have been excellent except for only one. That one exception was we got what we paid for. Very small, dark, lack of hot water and a sketchy neighborhood. But the host was awesome and offered a lot of great information while we were in Buenas Aires. So her service offset the negatives.
    A few things we do before we book an Airbnb is check reviews on Tripadvisor and Expedia. Surprisingly a lot of the places on Airbnb are listed on those sites as well, so you can check for other reviews.
    We also send an email to the host and ask some random questions such as, how quiet the apartment is, age of the unit, the comfort level of the bed, and hot water.
    Based on how quickly the host responds and answers then we make our decision on booking.

    We have had only one booking screw up with Airbnb and believe it was the fault of the owner in overbooking. The owner was nonresponsive in re-confirming our booking that we had to contact Airbnb. Boy, we sure were impressed with their service. They had the owner cancel our booking and refunded all our money plus 10% for our inconvenience if we re-booked another place with them. They took care of all this in less than 48 hours.
    The other site we use a lot is Booking.com. Again great service with them and they have a booking bonus program if you are a regular customer. Again we cross-check reviews with Tripadvisor and Expedia before we book. The other added benefit is you can do a booking without paying anything up front and very easy cancellation policies.

    • great story, good to know you were treated well. Service is very important. I’ve used booking.com and hotels.com, wotif and expedia – whatever has the best deal going basically. thanks for your input!

  • I have had pretty good experiences with AirBnB so far, but I’ve heard horror stories. I do like the accountability of hotels, and as you mention, the breakfasts and service. That said, if AirBnB is good, it can be really great!

  • It depends. I would usually go with whichever is more value for money. If I’m travelling alone, I prefer hostels. If I’m travelling with one or two friends, I would select whichever is cheaper or whichever has a better location. I have different friends who travel differently so I usually choose to suit each travel style and budget, most importantly. 🙂

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