Hotel vs rental: When does it make sense to book one over the other?

Robert Malcolm is heading to Las Vegas this fall and after weighing options for staying in a hotel or an Airbnb rental, he’s looking into booking a hotel.

“Basically, it’s the Airbnb fees that kill you,” the 38-year-old said.

If you’re looking to get away from it all in the next few months, you might also be wondering how to get the best accommodation experience in the most cost-effective way.

Experts say the best option for you ultimately depends on your goals for the trip, your exact destination, and how many people will join you.

“In my opinion, it is no longer Airbnb against hotels. They are similar to some degree, but they offer different opportunities,” said personal finance and travel specialist Barry Choi.

Airbnb is currently the biggest name in the home rental market and has experienced triple-digit growth over the past decade, giving travelers access to unique properties, the ability to live like a local, and even find accommodation in the most remote parts of the world.

But it’s getting more and more expensive to book Airbnbs in many cases, as prices have risen dramatically over the past two years, Choi noted.

While booking an Airbnb costs about the same as a hotel, “I feel like most people are just going to lean towards the hotel,” Choi said.

He added that it is easier to get discounts with hotels compared to vacation rentals.

Marriott’s loyalty program, for example, allows members to earn and redeem points for free nights and other redemptions across its Bonvoy brands.

The best way to get a discount with Airbnb is to book a rental for an extended period.

“But I see that less and less these days,” Choi said.

Cleaning costs have also increased significantly, he noted.

And often you are expected to do chores.

“One property I was looking at, they wanted me to untie the sheets, start the washing machine and dishwasher all while charging me a $150 cleaning fee. At this point, I might as well stay at the property. hotel.

Choi said there are definitely times when an Airbnb will definitely make more sense than a hotel, even if it’s the same or more expensive.

“Maybe you want some extra space because you have teenagers who often fight, so it definitely makes more sense to have an Airbnb. a lot more sense,” he said.

An Airbnb might also make more sense if you’re going on a romantic getaway or solo trip and want to get out of town, he added.

Stuart Martin, 32, is visiting Berlin for the first time in November and after debating about hotels and Airbnb, he opted to book a small apartment through the vacation rental platform.

“My typical pattern is that if I’m only staying in a city for one or two nights, hotels seem to be the way to go,” he said.

“If I’m staying more than a few days, I prefer Airbnbs because I can offset some of my expenses by cooking my own meals, and it’s more comfortable to collapse on a real couch at the end of the day.”

He said getting the best deals depends on the research you’ve done and how far in advance you can plan your trip, based on his experience.

“One of the best things about Airbnb is connecting with the host and getting their recommendations on what to do and see,” he added.

If you want to expand your network when it comes to rental options and shopping, Vrbo, part of the Expedia group, is probably the second most popular option.

But sites like and Tripadvisor also offer rental options these days.

There are also other platforms on the market such as Sonder and Vacasa, although their listings are not as extensive as Airbnb. You can book these rentals through instead of going directly through their sites as well.

Travel writer Natalie Preddie, who has been leaning more into hotels lately, said there are certain limitations to hotels that will entice people to rent, especially if they are visiting a new country.

“You’re going to have a more organized experience, which for a lot of people, when you’re traveling you’re trying to experience a new country, so with a hotel you’re probably going to have the same vacation here that you’re going to get into, say, Mexico. C It’s a very similar experience,” she said.

“Plus, you’re putting your money into a big business and taking it out of something more local.”

Preddie said travel overall is likely to be more expensive regardless of accommodation for the foreseeable future amid high gas and fuel prices, other inflationary pressures, a shortage labor and demand, which will further eat into the pockets of Canadians.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 1, 2022.


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