With so many hotel chains, boutique hotels, and other lodging options out there, it can be hard to make the right pick for your trip. Fold Airbnb rentals into the mix, and it can start to feel impossible to decide.
And there’s no definite answer between hotels and Airbnbs – a hotel might make the most sense for one trip, while Airbnbs are clearly the better option on the next. And you might even do a mix of both for one trip.
But there are a few factors to consider that could tip the scales to one side or the other. Here’s what to keep in mind to decide which option is best for you.
This is the big one.
For most travelers, price is the overriding factor in deciding where to stay. So while it may sound simple, do a quick search of hotels in your destination, starting with Google’s new hotel search platform. Then start your search on Airbnb – and make sure to filter for everything you need.
While Airbnb expanded rapidly thanks to its reputation as a cheap alternative, you can sometimes score great deals at amazing hotels for much cheaper than you expected. Of course, heading to popular destinations during peak travel times may mean that Airbnb is your best bet.
Everything come up fairly equal? Or have some other considerations to keep in mind for your booking? You need to dive in deeper to figure out what’s best.
Number of People
The number of people in your traveling party alone can dictate which option works best.
One or Two People: Hotel or Airbnb.
If you’re traveling solo or there’s only two of you, it’s still a toss-up. The types amenities available can really help you decide.
More than Two People: Airbnb.
When you’re traveling with a larger group, Airbnb is almost always the best choice. You can drastically reduce your costs by splitting the price of one apartment or home rather than booking several hotel rooms. And extra space with common rooms to hang out together is another big plus.
Looking to stay in the countryside in a more remote location? Need to be near all the tourist sites? Want to be in the thick of the city, with restaurants and shops nearby?
Do a little research on your destination and decide where you want to stay. Airbnbs might be better for staying away from the action or in the midst of a residential area, while hotels are typically in the city – but the opposite can be true, too.
So head back for a quick Google hotel search, and compare it with your search on Airbnb for the area(s) you want to stay. It could help you narrow down your option quick – or blow it wide open.
Type of Property
Unique Stays: Airbnb.
Have you always wanted to stay on a boat? Or is glamping on your bucket list? Airbnb offers so many options for unique homes, including tree houses!
You just won’t find some of these fun options in a hotel, so the choice is easy.
House or Apartment: Airbnb.
If you want your own space and the amenities that come with it (more on those later), Airbnb is the only way to go.
Room: Airbnb or Hotel.
If you’re in the market for a standard room, it can go either way.
If you really want to save money, you can search for a room in a shared space. Typically that means you’ve got your own private room in an owner’s property, though there are also some Airbnb listings that are similar to hostels, with multiple renters.
Meanwhile, a hotel is probably the right choice if you want privacy but only need a room.
From pools to cooking space to a spa, the amenities you need can be the clincher for your stay.
A kitchen is a huge plus if you’re trying to save some money on food, and booking an Airbnb is clearly the best option. Buy some groceries and have breakfast in! You can also find some properties with amazing kitchens that will make you want to stay in and cook dinner.
Gym or Spa: Hotel.
If going to the gym during your travels or stopping at the spa (think steam room, sauna, and services) is important, staying at a hotel is the easy choice. Unless if you’re renting an apartment in a big complex, you won’t find these amenities on Airbnb.
Pool: Hotel or Airbnb.
It depends exactly what kind of pool you want.
If you are looking to have your own private pool, Airbnb is the way to go. Just keep in mind this amenity will most certainly add to the cost of your stay. There are places in the world where pools are super common, so scoring your own private pool villa may not be that expensive. Filter for properties with pools and see if the overall prices go up.
Most hotels have pools, either indoor or outdoor. So a hotel can be the easy option if you don’t care about sharing with other guests or don’t want to weed through Airbnb listings. Plus, drink service, poolside restaurants, design, and views can be a big factor when staying at a hotel.
Many hotels offer laundry services but typically charge per item, and that can add up fast. Choosing an Airbnb with a washer and dryer will save you a lot of money and help keep you packing light. Once again, be sure to filter your Airbnb search results to make sure the listings have laundry.
Restaurants and Bars: Hotel.
Sometimes it’s nice to just go downstairs or to the rooftop for a great cocktail and some food. While you can easily find some Airbnbs with plenty of eating and drinking options nearby, this is a convenience and luxury only hotels can easily provide.
Daily Cleaning and Room Services: Hotel.
If you love having clean towels, sheets, and room service, just stay at a hotel. Some Airbnbs offer daily cleaning or, if it’s a long stay, an occasional cleaning during your time there. But it’s not common.
Think of the “Hotel or Airbnb” debate as another way to choose your own adventure. Figure out what you need, what kind of experience you’re looking for, and then go from there.
Who knows: Maybe you’ll end up staying in a mix of Airbnbs and hotels on your next trip!
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.