Hotels Vs. Vacation Rentals

Hotels

Pros:

Safety:

 Hotels just feel safer. There is always somebody at the front desk, there’s cameras in the hallway, if you’re arriving late you can notify the front desk and they’ll be expecting you. There’s documentation of you arriving and leaving. There’s no sketchy locks, there’s dead bolts, there’s peep holes in the door.

Amenities:

Hotels have pretty standard amenities. Free wifi, continental breakfast, airport shuttles, fitness center, some have business centers for printing. I appreciate a free breakfast and coffee quite a bit.

Customer Service:

 If there’s an issue, you’ll likely get it fixed by the hotel staff or manager in a timely and respectful manner.

Housekeeping:

There is someone to clean your room/replenish towels if needed. This can be nice if you’re staying multiple nights.

Check-in Process:

With hotels, there’s a pretty standard check-in, check-out process. You walk up to the counter, check in, and you’re done.

The overall simplicity of staying at a hotel.

You know what you’re going to get. You get what you pay for. There are minimal fees and taxes, so the advertised price is pretty close to the real price.

You know the exact location of the hotel.

This is helpful in being able to book a hotel closest to your trip attractions.

-Rewards Programs:

For me, I try and stay at a Hilton hotel. I signed up for their free rewards program, so every time I stay a night I get points which I can redeem for a future night there. I didn’t realize how many different hotel branches are run by Hilton. Between Hamptons, Double Trees, Homewood Suites, Hiltons, Embassy Suites, Tru’s, and many more, there is bound to be a Hilton hotel that is within your price range. I usually shoot for no more than $150 a night (with taxes) and so far I’ve been able to find a Hilton that fits this budget.

Cons:

-Hotels are all the basically same. Unless you want to drop a decent chunk of change on a unique, upscale, or quirky hotel, you usually won’t get as unique of a lodging experience with a hotel as an AirBnB or VRBO. Your standard chain hotels (Hilton, Marriot, etc) will all be generally the same regardless of where you go (I would venture to say these are examples of high-reliability organizations).

Check-Out:

Generally with a hotel, there’s a set check-out time that can only be altered a couple extra hours later. With a personally-owned accommodation, there might be more room for negotiation on check-out times.

For Longer Stays:

If you’re staying for multiple nights, it’ll be harder to find a place with a kitchen, although most do have mini fridges and some have microwaves.

-along with staying multiple nights, if you need to do laundry you will have to find somewhere to pay for it

Airbnb/VRBO

Pros:  

Experience:

-unique experience

Size:

You can get as small or as big of a place as you want. I’ve stayed in multi-bedroom houses, individual rooms, and studio apartments. It’s nice to have options in how many rooms, which you usually don’t get with hotels.

Price:

If you hunt around a bit, you might just find a deal and get an entire house cheaper than a hotel room.

Kitchens and Appliances:

If you want a kitchen for multiple nights, you can get one. Same with washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, coffee makers, etc.

Flexible Check-in and Out

As stated above, with a personally owned place it’s more likely that you’ll be able to get an earlier check-in or a later check-out.

Recommendations

Hosts are often locals so they can give you recommendations on things to do in the area.

Cons:

Check-in:

Sometimes checking in to an Airbnb or VRBO can be a little tricky. There are locks, different doors to enter in other than the front door. As a solo female traveler, I don’t like having to hunt for the entrance to my lodging, or fumble with a key or a code. It makes it more obvious that I don’t actually live there and I like to avoid doing anything that makes me seem more vulnerable.

Fees:

With Airbnb, fees can be through the roof. VRBO is a little better about this but there are still a hefty amount of fees, which makes a “$50 per night” room cost much much more

-customer service: in my experience, Airbnb was not helpful when I had a security issue with a stay.

Location:

You will not know the exact location until you book the place. Although I know this is merely a security feature, it can be a detriment in trying to plan a trip. For example, if I am not planning on getting a rental car, I want to know the exact location of my lodging to determine how close it is to my points of interest on the trip.

Not Standardized:

Amenities are not standardized and not all Airbnbs are created equally. I have learned the hard way that you HAVE to CAREFULLY read all of the description.   

-security

I have stayed in some average AirBnBs/VRBOs and some AMAZING ones. Listed below are my favorites.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/30442814?source_impression_id=p3_1578680742_umhU1l2SoI1rdrKa

 à Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/21390862?source_impression_id=p3_1578680756_4RMrfY3Q%2BHP9OHMl

à Annapolis, Maryland

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/37525786?source_impression_id=p3_1578680807_eCpeK6Eqwtr2HSp7

à Estes Park, Colorado

https://www.vrbo.com/1559495?adultsCount=2&noDates=true à Gatlinburg, Tennessee

I have also stayed in some pretty bad AirBnBs/VRBOs. But I won’t list those because good and bad are subjective and (except for one), all of the hosts were friendly and tried their best.  I’m a little partial to VRBO because it seems to have fewer fees and I have had some issues with AirBnB customer service.

Thus concludes my comparison of the different modalities of lodging available to the weary traveler.

2 comments

  1. Great article….just read article about traveling: suggested make off season travel plans, and search online for promo codes for hotels………..off season make sense, not sure if there are promo codes for hotels………………Nene

    Like

    • I’ve found one website called jet radar that gives you a hotel for cheap, you just don’t know which hotel it’ll be until you book. They tell you three or four it could be and you get one of those! I’ve yet to be bold enough to try that yet though.

      Like

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