While I wouldn't call myself a road warrior, I do travel a bit more than the average person. In 2018 I slept in 9 different countries, sometimes in hotels and sometimes in vacation rentals--usually through Airbnb. While I do love the housekeeping services that come with hotels, apartment rentals usually win out for me. So, when I saw 7 reasons I'd choose a hotel over Airbnb any day, by Laura McCamy, I thought it deserved a response. So, here it goes.
1. Traveling with kids? Airbnb gives you space and beds.
Most of my travel is with the offspring, and while they are old enough to not be watched every second of the day, they are also young enough that they still bicker with each other over ridiculous things. Most hotel rooms (especially in Europe) won't sleep four, even with a roll-away bed, so you have to get two rooms. But, with an apartment rental, I can pick a place with enough beds, a couch, and a kitchen. That way, when everyone's done for the day there is space to hang out, you can eat breakfast in the kitchen, and I don't have to beg for extra blankets.
2. Checking in and out is easier.
McCamy writes that "I've found that checking into an Airbnb is more like a treasure hunt. You likely won't know the address until a couple of days before your stay. And you'll have to be in detailed communication with the room's host to figure out the variables of your check-in situation, which can lead to directions that involve lock boxes and combinations."
Hmm, sounds complicated. While I have had some difficulty checking into an Airbnb, I've never had to wait in a 30-minute line as I have at hotels. I love the lock boxes! I don't even have to see a human and I can arrive at any time. I've stayed at numerous apartment rentals where I never saw the host--didn't need to. And leaving typically involves putting the keys on the kitchen table or tossing them into a mailbox and texting the host saying, "We're gone! Thanks for a great stay!"
3. I love the little perks.
In Virginia, our host left us a stack of DC metro cards with money still on them. In Turkey, our host booked a balloon ride and a taxi driver to take us on a day tour. In many places, hosts have provided breakfast food and welcome snacks. Some have recommended restaurants and some have even made reservations when I didn't speak the local language. I've found hosts to be unfailingly polite and helpful. Yes, there's a concierge desk (or at least a front desk) at hotels, but that person is never as invested in the quality of your trip as an Airbnb host is.
4. I love unique places.
We stayed in a cave house, a former poker parlor with amazing stained glass, a place with a hot tub we could fill with thermal water, places with fireplaces, balconies, and fancy grills that we could use. Once there were even piranhas we could feed. Hotels? Well, some are nicer than others, but most are pretty much exactly what you'd expect. They are secure and boring. McCamy sees the boringness of a hotel as a perk, while I see that as a con.
5. I love to learn about other cultures.
I do a lot of travel around Europe (and a few other places) and so when I read things like "Americans want European style health care/education/maternity leave" I just laugh and laugh. Each country is so very different. (Although, in fairness, they all do have more vacation than the US.) If you stay in a chain hotel, there's not a huge difference between your experience in Istanbul vs. Cleveland vs. Tallinn. It's all the same. Same company, same rules, same weird full-length mirror across from the toilet.
But, if you stay in an apartment rental, you can be in a neighborhood, and visit the local grocery store and the restaurants in the area are outside of the tourist district, and, therefore, more authentic and less expensive. Of course, you can rent an apartment in the tourist district as well, but it's your choice!
6. The ratings go both ways.
Yes, I've had a couple of crappy Airbnbs in my day, but I've also had crappy hotels. The difference is, I'm getting rated as well as the host or hotel. While I'm sure plenty of people who rent out their homes on Airbnb have horror stories, they at least get the satisfaction of giving a bad rating to the guest. In hotels, I've seen people flip their lids over ridiculous things and the poor employee's only recourse is to be nice up until they do something worthy of calling the police. And even if they do, that person can merrily book their next hotel stay.
I find Airbnb hosts willing to bend over backward for me to ensure a good review. Likewise, I make sure I am a considerate guest and always leave the apartment in great condition so that I get a good review. I like the system.
7. It's easier to find what I need.
Finding a hotel room for four is almost impossible. But, with an Airbnb, I can find a large space or a small one. I can find ski-in/ski-out places, saunas, fireplaces, washing machines, and just about anything I might want for a particular trip. I love the flexibility. Do I have a car on this trip? Then I need something with parking. If I'm using public transportation, then I don't. Do I need to work? Then good wifi is a must, but if it's just a fun trip, it's not as critical. (Side note from the offspring: yes it is.)
There isn't one answer for every traveler, but in a lot of situations, for me and my family, Airbnb and other apartment rentals work out a lot better than a hotel.