How Does Airbnb Compare to Alternative Accommodation Options in Today’s Market?
I had been putting off this hunt for accommodation for months now. It’s coming up to a month before our two week trip to Japan and we have nowhere stay. I refuse to let my partner research because he’d end up finding a completely average hotel for a grand a night and tell me that’s all he could find. So with great power, I had to make a decision. Were we going to stay at a hotel, an apartment or Airbnb?
So What Is Airbnb?
Airbnb was founded in 2008 by three friends who started renting out their place to stay as a bed and breakfast to make a little more money for rent. This unique concept later turned into a business when they saw a potential in the market after seeing the San Francisco area city emptied with booked up hotels and nowhere to stay for many people during the event of a big design conference in the city. This pushed them to develop their first website: airbedandbreakfast.com. So instead of staying in those all expensive hotels, Airbnb offers you somebody’s home as a more cost-friendly alternative.
How Airbnb Works For the Host
How Airbnb Works For the Guest
Airbnb primarily serves the budget-minded tourists. It has gained masses of success over the years, despite its rocky beginnings to find an investor to take the business seriously. Airbnb has now become a strong preference in accommodation choice for many people today.
The Pros of Using Airbnb
An Authentic Experience
The first time I stayed in an Airbnb was when I visited Milan, Italy for the very first time. The room wasn’t the best but I got to live like a real local. Hotels are generally more crowded with tourists and your experience becomes a lot more ‘touristy.’ Costs in those areas also tend to be inflated. Whereas if you stay at an Airbnb, you get the full experience like a local. You can get real recommendations from your host who has probably lived in the areas for years, of great places to eat, places to visit and any other questions to maximise your experience.
Airbnb’s Are More Affordable Than a Hotel
Most likely the most important aspect of Airbnb’s success is that it can be much more affordable than booking a hotel. The wide database of listings has accommodations to suit every budget, whether it be a room or a whole apartment. It becomes even more cost-effective if you’re sharing with friends as you’ll be splitting the cost which will be next to nothing compared to renting a hotel room for multiple people.
You Get More Privacy Than a Hotel and a Hostel
If you rent a whole apartment or a house, this means that you’ll get full privacy which is more than what you’ll get in a hotel and more than what you’ll get in a hostel. If you’ve had a long hectic day, it can be nice to know that you get back to a home that’s all yours. You’ll also avoid the house staff barging into your room in the morning if you forget to put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign out.
Discount for Longer Stays
You’ll find that some hosts add an extra weekly or monthly discounts on for longer stays. Sometimes the cost can come out less than if you were to stay for a shorter period. You’ll be able to find the pricing breakdown when you select the dates you’d like to stay.
The Cons of Using Airbnb
Airbnb’s get booked up fast
It’s important to book ahead of time. Especially during peak seasons as Airbnb’s get booked up quickly. However, as there are over 3 million listings worldwide, finding somewhere to stay shouldn’t be a problem. There will be places that you will have more preference over. Some look nicer than others so if you wanted to get your hands on those more aesthetically pleasing, it’s better to get in there earlier.
Possibly misleading information
My first experience with Airbnb was in Milan. Like I previously mentioned, the room wasn’t best. Reason being that the room looked nothing like it did in the pictures. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not always the case with every situation. However, it may be a good idea to look at the reviews and comments on the listing. You’ll find that you get comments on how the room looks, cleanliness and details that can give you a better idea of how the home is compared to the images. Remember, the host can post whatever pictures they want. This means that the photos may be very old or manipulated to look bigger or better than it is.
Wi-fi Connection May Not Be the Best
If you’re someone like me and rely on a wireless connection when you’re on holiday, make sure that you check the box in your Airbnb search for places that do have it. But even if the home does have wi-fi, something to keep in mind is that the connection may not be the best. Worst comes to worst, you could always hire a pocket wi-fi but again, this is an extra cost.
The Rental Can Be Hard To Find
The first time looking for our home in Milan, we got lost. This may especially be the case if you are renting a home outside of the city centre or if you’re in a rural area. Google Maps will be your best friend here if you get lost. Before you start your travels, make sure that you speak with your host and find out the best way to get to their house so you’re prepared.
You Miss Out On Hotel Service
If you’re looking to completely relax on your own, cook yourself, clean yourself and do your laundry then Airbnb would be a good option for you. However, some people prefer to pay a little more for the services that hotels provide such as room service, cleaning, a change of towels and regular change of sheets. I prefer that service so it wouldn’t have to be something to worry about while I enjoy my holiday.
Hotels Seem to Be Safer
Majority of Airbnb properties are perfectly safe homes with locks in place however some prefer to know that there are security guards in place and a 24-hour reception clerk. It’s all about peace of mind. If you’re one to get scared easily, maybe Airbnb’s not for you. You wouldn’t want to be constantly worrying on your time off.
Single Night Stays Are not Practical
I find that if you require a place to stay for just one night, you’ll get a smoother experience with a hotel than you will with an Airbnb. Some Airbnb hosts require a minimum of two nights stay so you may find that if you put the request in for one night, they may just reject your application and ask if you can do two nights instead. If you’re unsure of what time you’re going to arrive at the property or you know you’re going to be arriving late like 1 am, it may be a better idea to go to a hotel with a 24 hour concierge rather than have your host get up at 1 am to pass you to the keys then find you again later on to get them back off you…all in the space of 24 hours.
The prices per night may seem cheap on screen but you’ll find that when it comes to booking, you’ll have additional fees such as cleaning fees and service fees, again decided by the host. The total cost may end up changing your perception of how cheap the rental is. You may find that another rental is more expensive per night but they may charge less for service and cleaning so the price per night overall for your stay may be cheaper. Your best bet would be to open a few tabs of the homes that you like and do a comparison of each one in terms of overall prices, locations and reviews.
So are Airbnb’s Worth it in Comparison to alternative Accommodation in Today’s Market?
During my accommodation search, I’ve was able to find plenty of decent hotels that were cheaper than Airbnb’s in today’s market. What may have been a great idea a couple of years ago is now not so much. That’s why after weighing out the pros and cons of Airbnb, I’m choosing to stick to hotels. You get the security, you get the service and you don’t have the uncertainty of what the rooms are going to look like in comparison to their images.
Let me know in the comments below if you think Airbnb’s are worth it in today’s market!
Some features of this post may have been sent to me for review. However, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please read my disclaimer.