You’d think there would be no contest because Airbnbs are nearly always cheaper than a hotel in any category. But it’s not so simple as one being cheaper than others. We know from experience that using a hotel can be more amenable than staying in an airbnb.
Hotels are often in more convenient locations that can be accessed easily. Whereas airbnbs can be in all kinds of far-off places and certainly won’t be listed on any tourist map… you can be led astray when booking an airbnb due to misleading titles and location information, but hotels will always show their actual address, meaning it’s much easier to choose somewhere in a central location.
Price vs Added Extras
Whilst airbnbs are mostly cheaper than most hotels in a 4 or 5 star range, you’re getting certain amenities when you stay in a hotel that airbnbs can’t provide. Are you looking for a gym, pool or rooftop bar where you can meet other travellers? You’re better off staying in a hotel or a hostel , where these are likely to be available. Are brand new sheets, air-conditioning a priority? Hotels are likely to work better for you.
On the other hand, staying in an Airbnb could work out if you are looking to build relationship with the host and learn about the area. Then again, there is nothing like being able to consult the concierge of a hotel who will know the local area and so can give you all the information to get around the area.
Finding the ‘right’ airbnb
The hard part is finding the appropriate Airbnb for you and the best located property. Most major cities have accepted Airbnb for short term lets, meaning that anyone with a property can list it as a ‘holiday home’. It doesn’t even need to be a property that they own and may just be a property that they sublet. This is clearly not necessarily a good thing. Take major cities like London or Paris, which have the highest number of airbnbs. Travelers looking to save some money might end up somewhere with no proper facilities, transport links or any hospitality to speak of.
Blame the Airbnb review system, which makes it difficult for users to write anything less than glowing reviews. We don’t know why guests can be more honest when it comes to reviewing a hotel. But something about visiting someone’s house, perhaps meeting the owners means that most if not all guests feel obliged to leave glowing reviews for what was just an ordinary stay in an average home with nothing to recopmmend it. A case in point is a stay in Ibiza. Whilst some reviews clearly indicate that the host is not a nice woman, the honest reviews are overwhelmed by the sycophantic reviews which somehow suggest that the host is the nicest woman ever, even whilst she can’t be because she has a list of things you can’t do that is as long as the property description.
The negative effect that Airbnb has on local communities
Staying in airbnbs has shown me that not everyone has what it takes to be a good host. But what may be an even stronger reason not to use airbnbs is the effect they have on communities. If landlords think they can earn more renting out their rooms to overseas visitors ,rather than locals, they will do so. It then makes it harder for hotels – which have a beneficial relationship to communites – to, a, find guests, but also to pay the taxes and staff’s wages. This may ultimately be why it’s better to stay in hotels than airbnbs, especially in poorer countries which rely on foreign visitors to stay in hotels.