Should You (or Any Traveler) Stay in an Airbnb or a Hotel?

When it comes to Airbnb vs. hotels, there are pros and cons to each way of traveling, depending on what you’re looking for. Our infographic below breaks down which option is cheaper, where they excel (and don’t), and how they compare with meals, parking, and more.


This post will look at the differences between staying in an Airbnb versus a hotel. After discussing the pros and cons of Airbnb, we’ll give you our definitive answer on which is cheaper (and better) – Airbnb or hotels.


What’s the Difference Between Airbnb and a Hotel?


The choice is usually between Airbnb and hotels when it comes to accommodation. So, what’s the difference? Well, generally speaking, a hotel is going to provide you with more of a luxury experience, while Airbnb will feel closer to staying in an actual home. When you stay in a hotel, you’re guaranteed amenities like clean towels and sheets, a swimming pool, and maybe even room service!


On the other hand, Airbnb allows you to stay in private homes, with many of the amenities that come with them. That means you can access a kitchen, which lets you save money and know exactly what’s going into your food. You’ll also have your own space for the duration of your trip, including any living areas. Plus, Airbnb stays in residential neighborhoods will allow you to feel like a local instead of a tourist.


Airbnb Pros & Cons


Airbnb Pros


Airbnb is the world’s leading hospitality company, but you already knew that. What you might not know is that Airbnb’s rental properties are more affordable, have more choices, and are a more immersive experience than staying at the local hotel. And there are lots of other benefits to using an Airbnb for your trip, including:


  • The chance to meet your Airbnb hosts and ask for insider tips about things to do around town
  • The ability to rent properties longer term and even negotiate the cost (this is one of my best travel tips for digital nomads)
  • More choices for renting larger properties if you’re on vacation with a big group of people
  • Travelers have so much choice in different types of rentals
  • More affordable options in general, especially in cities where vacation rentals are notoriously expensive.


Airbnb Cons


There are some downsides to renting an Airbnb, including:


  • You’ll miss out on the daily cleaning service (and trips to the hotel bar!) that comes with booking a room at a traditional hotel
  • Airbnb’s customer service is notoriously bad at times, and since your hosts are just normal people, there’s nothing much stopping them from canceling your reservation last minute.
  • The added cleaning fee can be more expensive than you think, so consider looking into the cost before booking.
  • Airbnb’s impact has started crowding out locals in heavily touristed cities around the world like Barcelona, and their new regulations have been introduced to curb tourism and protect long-term housing (this may be an issue for sustainable-minded travelers).


Hotels Pros & Cons


Hotels Pros


Hotel stays have become the standard for travelers, and for good reason.


Some of the pros of staying in hotels on a trip include:


  • Hotels offer a lot of perks that can make any trip more enjoyable—from crucial amenities like food, shelter, and safety to luxuries such as room service, great service, and 24-hour access to a gym and pool.
  • Having stayed in hotels around the world, I have found that hotel brands tend to offer lots of incentives for staying with them, like loyalty rewards that will earn you free stays and other perks around the world.
  • A certain level of service and luxury that often can’t be replicated outside of the hotel industry (like free breakfast, room service, or restaurants)
  • Often hotels will have special deals, like bundled packages
  • Hotel brands tend to offer lots of incentives for staying with them, like loyalty rewards that in turn will earn you free stays and other perks around the world
  • No surprise cleaning fees
  • Greater flexibility when it comes to canceling or changing reservations
  • Hotels tend to be more secure and safe, with clearly marked emergency exits and working fire alarm systems


Hotel Cons


Hotels can be great, but they can be expensive compared to Airbnbs, and they often lack any kind of personal charm after a while. Add in the tips expected by the staff, and you might want to consider Airbnb instead. The rates are often cheaper and you can pick a place that is unique and has just the right amount of space!


It’s important to do your research and make sure you’re finding the option that gives you the most value. That’ll mean choosing a hotel over an Airbnb for some of us. Others would instead grab a cheap Airbnb option and be happy with their savings offerings. Still, others might want to look for a unique experience or location and opt for a hostel over any hotel or Airbnb. You have more than enough options out there to choose from that are great for all different kinds of travelers!

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