When Airbnb launched it revolutionized the hospitality industry. Suddenly, people had options and hotels were forced to lower rates and step up their games. All good for the traveler. As amazing as Airbnb can be, however, I would argue it is not the best fit for all travel plans. Boutique hotels, B&Bs, Airbnbs, and hotels all have their time and place. I have lots of friends who, no matter the inconvenience, always opt for an Airbnb and others who insist on hotels, even when an apartment might be the better option. Bottom line, none of these are a one size fits all. When deciding between different accommodation options, it is important to consider the purpose of your travel and your needs.
Good For: Romantic Getaways, Staycations, Rural Areas, Travelers by Car
B&Bs are great for relaxing getaways or staycations. Their smaller size, intimate atmosphere, and (often) elaborate breakfasts make them a perfect place when you want to enjoy some down time. B&Bs are not a good option for the busy traveler, since they typically don’t have flexible check-in and out or dining times. And because most are converted historic homes, rooms tend to be smaller and more intimate, which are not ideal for large friend groups or families with children. Historic homes also mean that B&Bs are located in neighborhoods that may or may not be in the center of town.
This adorable Victorian purple B&B, called the Amethyst Inn, provided the perfect getaway for my sister and I in Savannah. We stayed just two nights, but fell in love with the homes architecture and history (to avoid sleepless nights, we did not read the home’s ghost report)! Not only was the home stunning, we awoke each morning to a home-cooked breakfast, served family style with the rest of the guests. If you are not into mingling and chatting with other guests, B&Bs are probably not for you! Each morning we would enjoy our communal breakfast, sip our coffee on the wrap-around porch, and then set off to explore the city.
Good For: Aesthetic, Trendy Cities/Neighborhoods, Single Travelers, Small Groups
Boutique hotels are typically located in culturally-rich cities, in the trendiest neighborhoods, and are intricately designed. If you are into design and culture, than opt for a boutique hotel. The downside, however, is that most boutique hotels are small and will have less amenities and limited dining. This is fine if it’s located in an area with lots of dining options. My favorite cities for staying in boutique hotels are Paris and Rome.
Good For: Long Stays, Families, Travelers Familiar with the Location, Groups
An Airbnb is great if you are staying for an extended period or time, are a frequent traveler to that area/city, or are traveling with family or a large group. While they can be much more economical for large families and groups, I find most won’t save you much as a solo traveler. If you have a quick trip, let’s say a weekend in Paris, I would argue that an Airbnb is not the best option, especially if you want to maximize your time by arriving early and leaving late. Because Airbnbs are mostly privately run, there is no front desk to watch your bags, check you in early or late, or help you arrange a taxi or airport shuttle. Depending on your trip, hotel amenities like room service, room cleanings, complimentary irons/blow dryers/toiletries, and shuttle services should be factored into your accommodation plans. If I am traveling alone, I never stay in an Airbnb (unless I am living in a city in Italy for an extended period of time). I prefer the extra security and resources of a hotel as a solo traveler.
Good For: Solo Travelers, Quick Trips, New Cities, Business Trips, Travelers without Cars
Hotels are a great option if you need to maximize your time somewhere, are traveling alone, traveling without a car, or are on a business trip. You cannot beat the amenities, service, and convenience of hotels when traveling for business. I also like to select hotels with lots of dining options if I am traveling by myself to a new city, since I may not always be able to venture out on my own at night for dinner. Another tip, I love using Booking.com for my hotel arrangements. They are especially good for European destinations, have insightful ratings and reviews, and offer easy and free cancellation for many properties. This is especially useful for bargain hunting or trips that might change but you want to ensure you have a hotel.
What are you thoughts on Airbnbs verses hotels?