How to decide if you should stay in an Airbnb or Hotel?

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If you have followed any of my travels the last few years you know I have been all around the world, frequently solo and even more frequently last minute. I’ve stayed in at least a hundred different places in the three years. With all this experience I have a pretty set routine for deciding where to stay. Below is my guide on how to decide if an Airbnb or Hotel is right for your journey.


  1. Check-In

Surprisingly I do not have an international calling plan, so when I arrive in a new country, unless I can get a cheap SIM card at the airport, I do not have any phone service. Airport Wi-Fi can be useful but is usually short term and of poor quality. This alone makes it difficult to coordinate with a host as to what time and when I am in front of their property. In addition, I travel last minute, so I don’t always know the exact time I will arrive and don’t like to be constrained by it. Often enough I arrive very late or very early. With a hotel there is usually someone on staff 24 hours a day so I can easily drop my luggage and usually check-in very late in the evening.

  1. Accessibility

Before you book you need to know what you are planning to do in the location. Do you need to be next to the attractions or a certain location? Will you have a car or are you going to take public transportation? Usually hotels are centrally located and can clearly and directly guide you, though they also usually charge for parking. Airbnb’s are usually outside the tourist zones and parking can vary. You need to choose between a Hotel and Airbnb based on how easily it is for you to move from your location to where most of your activities will be.

  1. Amenities

I can be a bit of a princess sometimes, I like a pool, hot tub, gym, restaurant, towels, shampoo, people to answer questions, and the convenience of calling downstairs if I need anything. These are things that hotels have, maids to change your sheets every day, etc. Airbnb is like staying at a friend’s house. You don’t have a world class gym or sauna downstairs and they probably don’t appreciate you calling them to bring you dinner in your room. However, like a friend’s house you usually have amenities associated with home like: washer and dryer, kitchen, refrigerator, etc.

  1. Number of People

If you’ve ever tried to cram four people in a hotel room with two queen beds, you know, it is not comfortable and relaxing. It is a cramped space for a group of people. Usually with Airbnb you are getting an apartment or home which means multiple rooms. You may have one in the living room and two in each bedroom. You have room to sprawl about and when one person gets up in the middle of the night they have a central area they can access.

  1. Duration of Stay

Hotels are great for one or two nights, the easy check-in and central locations make it simple and flexible for travelers. When you book an Airbnb it usually takes a little more work to check-in but you are living like a local. It is like you are residing in that community for the period of your stay. If you are staying someplace for two or three weeks, I think you would care more about the kitchen and fridge than about the sauna and nice hotel. Also, Airbnb hosts often will give you discounted weekly rates. Making them more affordable for long stays than the Hotels.

  1. Cost / Availability

Now here is where the other rules go out the window. Cost is a great decision maker. If you know how much you want to spend per night you can gauge whether you should book someone’s couch on Airbnb or go to that lush hotel with its cushy bed. Depending on location and a variety of factors, when I travel solo I like to stay in places that are around $70 per night. This is not always possible, when I am only finding prices that are like $200 per night for hotels I jump over to Airbnb. I might have to sacrifice some of the perks of hotel life, but I can keep a few extra bucks in my pocket.

Tough day 😉 #airbnb #kauaidiscovery #nakedhawaii #beach #pacificocean #kauai #hawaii

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Long Stay Short Stay
Renting a Car Using Public Transportation
Large Groups < 2 ppl
Laundry Front Desk
Cooking for yourself Restaurant
Know time of arrival Like to keep plans open/need flexible check-in
Hotels are all super pricey Hotel prices in your area are reasonable
Have cell services Do NOT have cell service
House guest/treat like a friend’s house Daily cleaning by a maid
Potential for: gym, sauna, pool, room service