Airbnb or Hotel?

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Airbnb or hotel? It’s a question many travellers ask. Each has their pros and cons, so how do you decide on which one to choose when travelling?

Travellers who choose hotels do it because it’s part of the whole travel experience. Hotels offer Big beds, beautiful washrooms, and of course housekeeping. There’s no doubt that you’ll be well rested and relaxed after staying at a hotel.

Airbnb gives travellers different options since you can rent a shared room, private room, or entire place. The lower price is the biggest draw, but you’re also getting a more local experience since you’ll be living like a local.

What you end up deciding on is really up to you, each one offer it’s own pros and cons.

Airbnb or hotel, the choice is yours.

Airbnb advantages

Price – Saving money is the most obvious advantage of Airbnb, compared to a hotel you can save anywhere from 25-50%. Airbnb does offer weekly rates which can help you save ever more money. Cleaning and service fees do need to be factored in, but even with those added charges, you’re still getting good value.

Local experience – When you stay with Airbnb you’re getting a local experience. Hosts are locals that’ll be able to recommend restaurants and bars that they visit, not some place that’s popular with tourists. They’ll also be able to recommend you some places to check out that aren’t found in guide books.

Amenities – Unlike hotels, Wi-Fi is always free with Airbnb. Since many Airbnb apartments have a full kitchen, guests can cook their own meals if they so desire. I’ve even had hosts loan me bikes so I could explore the city in a different way. The best thing about all these amenities is that they’re free with Airbnb.

I’ve stayed with Airbnb all around the world and safety has never been an issue. Through Airbnb you can check the online reputations of hosts and contact them before making a booking.

airbnb or hotel beach

Hotel advantages

Convenience – Hotels are flexible with their check-in times, they have staff available around the clock, the concierge will be able to assist you in any way, and who doesn’t like having their room cleaned and bed made every day. Many hotels also offer a no-fee cancellation policy as long as you give them 24 hours notice.

Dining options – You won’t even need to leave your hotel if you’re looking for a place to eat or drink since most hotels have an on-site restaurant, a lobby bar, and room service. This might not sound like a perk to the casual traveller, but for many people, hanging out at a hotel bar or restaurant is a fun and trendy thing to do.

Amenities – Many of the best pools in the world are hotel pools, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that some travellers are still choosing hotels. Hotels have also started to build much better fitness centers to attract the active traveller. Smartphones and laptops are pretty common these days but many business travellers still enjoy using the hotel business center.

A good hotel experience can be hard to match, it can even create travel memories that last a lifetime. There’s no doubt that hotels offer incredible service, you’ll just need to budget more for your vacation if you go this route.

Final word

So Airbnb or hotel, have you decided? The truth is, you don’t need to stick with one or the other. Whenever I travel, I factor in costs, location, and convenience before making a decision. Some trips I’ve leaned more towards hotels, while on other occasions I’ve used Airbnb exclusively. On my recent trip to Japan, I actually used both options and had great experiences at each location.

Airbnb or Hotel?

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Virna on June 4, 2015 at 5:12 PM

    I’ve never tried Airbnb until you told me about it. Thanks to you we got to experience staying at a central location with a great host. I would definitely use it again for our next trip. Thanks Barry!

    • Barry Choi on June 4, 2015 at 5:13 PM


      Having a great host is the biggest factor, they can make huge difference. I’ve used Airbnb all around the world and have positive experiences each time.

  2. Richard on June 4, 2015 at 11:26 PM

    I’ve been an Airbnb guest and a host and it’s been a great experience apart from a couple of minor things.

    One of the most important things I would recommend if you’re booking a place on Airbnb is to remember that you’re asking to stay at someone’s home and they may be going out of their way to accommodate you (especially if you will have the place all to yourself).

    Of course you are paying for it and you should receive the service you paid for, but giving a few extra details to help them prepare for you such as when you’re arriving and leaving and what amenities are particularly important to you will make the experience a lot easier and it is more likely that they will accept your booking.

    Btw I’ve stayed in some decently nice hotels, but my friend just went on a trip where her Airbnb place turned out to be a historical mansion! Whatever you like about hotels you may be able to find an Airbnb listing that is way better.

    • Barry Choi on June 4, 2015 at 11:32 PM


      That’s what I love about Airbnb, you can find some pretty crazy properties.

      I agree that you’re entering someones home and you should treat it with respect and try your best to keep it clean. I always give my hosts as much as info as possible so they don’t end up waiting for me for hours.

  3. anumyoon on June 5, 2015 at 2:58 PM

    I love Airbnb. Did you know that some people even rent out Airbnb homes for wedding/reception venues? Some listings are totally gorgeous and they’re so much cheaper than renting out official venues. I’ve used Airbnb dozens of times, and so far, I haven’t had a bad experience yet!

    • Barry Choi on June 5, 2015 at 3:47 PM


      Oh I had no idea you could rent venues for weddings. That’s actually genius. I’m pushing a dozen Airbnb stays now and they have all been great experiences.

  4. Christine on June 5, 2015 at 3:44 PM

    Airbnb all the way. Richard makes a great point though – people need to consider that it is someone’s home and not a hotel. You’re going to have to make your own bed, take out your own trash, and wash your own dishes. It definitely isn’t for everyone!

    • Barry Choi on June 5, 2015 at 3:50 PM


      Funny enough whenever I’ve stayed with Airbnb I’ve automatically washed my own dishes and picked up after myself. It never crossed my mind to leave my trash for someone else to pick up. It sucks that some people think others will do it for them.

  5. Aleksandra Sagan on June 6, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    I’ve never rented an Airbnb stay, but that’s been mostly a function of not having had the opportunity to yet. My partner, G, and I just booked our flights for a big, five-week vacation in the fall. We’ll have a hotel during some of that stay, but we’re definitely going to be looking into Airbnb listings as well. I’m excited to start perusing what’s available in the areas where we’ll be!

    • Barry Choi on June 6, 2015 at 9:46 AM


      Oooo 5 weeks, where you off to?

  6. Cristina on November 1, 2015 at 11:21 PM

    Airbnb all the way, no doubt! The only thing i hate about it is the pricey service fees per night. Theyh should have annual one time feee or membrashup

    • Barry Choi on November 2, 2015 at 9:44 PM


      I still use a mix of both, but I’m definitely leaning more towards Airbnb now.

  7. […] Choi, B. (2015, June 4). Airbnb or Hotel. Money We Have. Retrieved from […]

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  9. Anne-Marie Thibert on May 2, 2021 at 9:13 AM

    My husband and I travel a lot and I spend countless hours planning, researching and booking our arrangements. From my experience, where my opinion might differ, is in cost. For longer stays an AirBnB or VRBO can offer substantial savings and almost always more square footage for the dollar, including kitchen facilities. However for a short 1-3 night stay, the added cleaning, booking and sometimes even an ‘owner’ fee negate any real savings. (I.e. a property might charge a $75 or more cleaning fee and you pay this full amount whether you stay 1 night or a week. $75 extra on a one night stay is creeping up to as much as the full cost of a bargain motel.)
    Also the days of these properties being ‘someone’s home’ are almost behind us. Of the dozens we have stayed in every single one was an investment property. So they’re run like a business and charge to make a profit (and many owners will hold a mortgage that needs to be covered first). And of course they don’t ‘clean their own house’!
    Anyway that’s my two cents. I’ll definitely still consider vacation rentals however the deals aren’t what they used to be (when people opened up their own home periodically through the year to make a few bucks).

    • Barry Choi on May 4, 2021 at 5:02 AM


      I feel much the same way about Airbnb. I first started using them when they weren’t a household name. Back then, I was able to get an apartment in New York for less than $100 CAD a night and I actually arrived when the owner was cleaning things up. Now almost every one I stay at is an investment property. The prices are also now similar to hotels, but I get a little more space. I don’t use hotels or Airbnb exclusively as they’re so similar.

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