Airbnb vs Hotels: A Traveller's Guide

Christine Peasnell
23rd August 2022

When it comes to getting away, the main choice many agonise over is where to rest your head. While Airbnb often offers a cheaper accommodation option, it isn’t all that meets the eye, especially compared to hotels. Choosing where to stay comes down to what you value the most and what best suits you. This is why we’ve broken down the differences when it comes Airbnb vs hotels, to help you make the right decision for you.

What’s the difference between Airbnb and Hotels?

Airbnb is a service that allows people to rent out their spaces and homes to others looking for accommodation in specific locations. People will rent these rooms or houses privately from strangers, staying there alone, with a friend or even booking a larger space for a group.

When you stay in a hotel, you rent a room or a suite from a business. You’ll gain access to the rest of their facilities, such as restaurants or bars.

Why choose Airbnb?

Wondering whether to choose Airbnb over a hotel? Here is our list of pros and cons to help you make an informed decision. 

Why choose to use an Airbnb?

Airbnb Pros

●      It can be more affordable for home-sharing purposes and cost-effective for long-term travellers.

●      You will be able to enjoy your own area for cooking and eating. 

●      More rental choices offer unique experiences depending on the property type.

●      Better for group trips because they offer more space and are often cheaper overall.

Airbnb Cons

●      There’s a high cancellation risk as people can cancel your booking at the last minute.

●      The cleaning fee can add a significant cost on your rental, especially in a post-COVID world.

●      People can be misinformed about what is available in photos or information provided.

●      Airbnb makes most of its revenue by charging a service fee for each booking.

●      Female travellers who have had complaints about security issues often haven’t had their concerns addressed.

●      Property owners can charge what they wish, depending on the area.

●      Some Airbnb hosts don’t allow certain types of guests, such as hen or stag parties.

●      It can be challenging to claim a refund with Airbnb if you’re unsatisfied with your stay.

Why choose hotels?

If you’re unsure if a hotel is right for you, here’s our list of pros and cons to make an informed decision.

Why choose to use a hotel?

Hotel Pros

●      Hotels have to conform to security and safety standards , with regularly tested fire alarms, security and the front door being monitored at night.

●      A concierge is available to sort out room issues, such as faulty air-con or missing towels.

●      You can expect a certain level of service and comfort, with amenities such as room service and cleaning service.

●      You can get a saving on booking multiple nights and also special offers throughout the year, not just seasonally.

●      Hotel brands can offer loyalty rewards and email deals, such as free stays.

●      No extra costs on arrival, such as cleaning fees or security fees.

●      You have higher flexibility when you need to reschedule or cancel your booking.

●      Convenient locations, such as city centres, to give you better access to tourist spots.

Hotel Cons

●      Your stay can be more expensive compared to Airbnb.

●      There aren't always extra touches in rooms - some can be basic.

●      Some rooms aren’t as spacious as Airbnb accommodation.

●      Depending on the location in the world, you can expect to tip hotel staff.

Is Airbnb cheaper than a hotel?

While Airbnb prices are lower than hotel rates on the surface, it doesn’t always mean you’ll enjoy the same value. Travellers who have booked with Airbnb haven’t always had the smoothest time.

Many guests have turned up to find the place doesn’t look remotely like the picture, or there are hidden costs with amenities missing on arrival. Some believed they had rented a property, but the owner said they’d only booked a room. Large numbers also report that the cheaper accommodation has been cancelled at the last minute, forcing travellers to find alternative accommodation at short notice.

Airbnb also adds a guest fee on their bookings which can be as much as 20% on top of the price already paid.

How does your accommodation solve issues?

When you’ve booked holiday accommodation through either Airbnb or a hotel, you want to know that you will be looked after and have a great time. In a hotel, this is easier because, as a business, they have a structure in place guests can go through to complain.

Issues and complaints at Airbnb vs hotels

However, with Airbnb, there are more grey areas between Airbnb and property owners regarding what is expected and the complaints procedure. There have been instances when guests have turned up for their stay only to find glaring cleanliness or safety issues that mean they can no longer stay there. When they’ve gone on to contact Airbnb, either for alternative accommodation or to raise a complaint, they’ve not been met with much assistance in sorting out this issue.

Travellers have also found themselves sharing the space they thought they’d rented privately with the property owner. Other guests using Airbnb have also found themselves with oversharing, intrusive owners, and even uninvited guests, such as pets or children, interrupting guests’ stay.

When you choose to stay in a hotel, your room is your space, with most hotels doing their utmost to make you feel comfortable with other guests during your stay.

Technology differences?

Previously, Airbnb has offered guests a unique user experience with complimentary paid TV channels, Wi-Fi and other information, including bookings, available through the app. But, hotels have caught up with this, now allowing guests to book with them through their website, liaising through apps and getting a comprehensive offering of technology amenities in rooms.

These can include:

●      Apple TV and complete Sky Sports packages

●      Keyless entry and contactless check-in

●      Interactive booking-in systems.

●      Restaurants allow guests to order through an app

This has significantly closed the gap that Airbnb formerly had over hotels - so it isn't hard to find a hotel these days loaded with tech that makes your stay easier.

Enjoying amenities and security

You’ve booked a great stay but, when you book, you want to know you’ll be safe and the amenities promised are available for you to use. When booking a hotel stay, this is a given, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case with Airbnb. 

Many Airbnb guests have found themselves restricted on internet use, even if it was promised to be unlimited. Entertainment options have also not been as advertised. There are even reports that Airbnb guests have felt unsafe with property owners having let themselves into the property when guests are in bed or relaxing outside - even if guests had been assured they’d have the place to themselves.

Do you want to live like a local?

Every guest has a different level of city immersion they want to achieve. Travellers often choose Airbnb because properties are within the local neighbourhood, allowing them to get a flavour of the genuine local culture.

Live like a local - Airbnb vs hotels

But, hotels can offer this too. With more and more hotels immersing themselves in the local area, most concierges offer their guests valuable hints and tips on hidden places and offer excellent deals on local tourist spots so that you can find hidden gems close by. Many boutique hotels are even taking inspiration from local cultures into their decor. 

A more carefree stay

Compared to Airbnb, a lot of people can and will feel more comfortable in a hotel. While most people don’t leave their hotel room in a mess, such as wet towels on the floor, a more carefree mentality comes from knowing where you’re staying isn’t someone else’s home.

While it is always best to be considerate to the housekeeping staff, people can have their things all over the place and not feel the need to worry constantly about damaging anything. Equally, if something doesn’t feel right or you need more towels, you only have to ask the concierge.

Enjoyable stays at Airbnb vs hotels

The ‘Airbnb Effect’

As demand grows for more travel options for accommodation, many landlords in the UK and worldwide are evicting long-term rentals from their properties to list them on Airbnb. Landlords find they can earn more money renting to travellers through Airbnb than renting to professionals or families.

This knock-on, sometimes called the ‘Airbnb effect’, has been compared to gentrification in that it’s slowly increasing the value of the area, pushing out residents due to financial constraints. Because of this worsening crisis, certain countries are even putting in regulations to ban renting rooms to tourists in the hope landlords will be deterred and the rising cost of long-term rent will decrease.

After a unique stay?

Many travellers would assume that unique stays only happen with an Airbnb, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Independent and boutique hotels are on the rise; many can be cheaper, and all tend to offer unique night stays while blending in with their environment, adapting decor to when and where they were founded. Rooms in boutique hotels can also be surprisingly unique, giving those staying flexibility when booking to match your room to your desired aesthetic.

While you have plenty of choices when getting away, hotels offer security, friendly concierges and a range of amenities. Compared to Airbnb, hotels are reliable and offer more flexibility if you need to reschedule or cancel without losing your money. They’re secure, adding no extra stress to your stay when you arrive.

Boutique hotels vs Airbnb

And, with the rise in unique boutique hotels as well as access to more local accommodation like B&Bs or apart-hotels, you can book a memorable stay while knowing your room is still very different to the one next door. Add in the assurances of security, quality and cleanliness on offer in today's hotels, and we think the better choice is pretty clear! Still not convinced? Have an ogle at some of the world's most beautiful beach hotels or a few of the globe's best romantic hotels, and wherever you decide to go, remember... just hoo it!

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