Airbnb is taking the world by storm. At latest count, the company offers over four million listings in over 191 countries, and has served more than 200 million guests since its launch in 2008.
But, the real question is: What’s the best value for your next vacation – Airbnb or a hotel?
We’re so glad you asked. We’ll stack up the competition in four categories, and let you be the judge.
Booking With Points
When it comes to booking with points, there’s really no contest: Hotels are the clear winner. In fact, Airbnb doesn’t have a loyalty program – though they’ve teased that one might be on the way.
The only way to redeem miles or points for an Airbnb stay at the moment is by buying a gift card with Chase UR points. But, that’s generally one of the least lucrative ways you could possibly use your points, typically only giving you a value of $0.01 per point.
On the other hand, you could transfer your Chase UR points to Hyatt’s loyalty program, and use 30,000 of them to book a night at the Category-7 Park Hyatt Beaver Creek that’d cost you $1,000 in cash. That’s a value of $0.033 per point, over three times what you’d get by buying a gift card.
Or, on the lower end, you could transfer and redeem just 5,000 points for a Category-1 property like the Hyatt-House Dallas Uptown, where rooms can run north of $180, netting you a value of $0.036 per point.
In any case, if your goal is to use points for a good night’s stay, Airbnb just isn’t a realistic option.
Ok, so there are many different hotels, but at the end of the day, hotels offer consistency. A four-star Hyatt in New York isn’t going to be all that different from a four-star Marriott in Shanghai.
That can be a good thing – a great thing if you’re a business traveler who’s trying to minimize hassle. But if you’re looking for adventure and the chance to experience something new, you can’t beat Airbnb.
There’s no doubt that especially on the high end, hotels are looking for ways to deliver truly unique experiences to their guests, but when it comes to pure variety and occasional weirdness, you can’t beat the eclectic selection of places to stay offered by Airbnb.
Winner: It Depends
There’s no hard-and-fast rule about whether an Airbnb or hotel room will be a better deal. It depends on the location, season and current availability.
Your best bet is to look at where you’re planning to stay, and compare the cost of a hotel room and Airbnb stay for your specific dates.
That said, there are a couple of general guidelines.
Airbnb Is Often Cheaper for Groups
If you’re traveling on your own or with just one companion, a single hotel room will often be pretty close to a “whole place” Airbnb. However, if you’re traveling with a larger family or group that’s all staying together, Airbnb is most often the best budget option.
Group of four spending a weekend in Berlin this June? You could get a comfortable, highly rated two-bedroom Airbnb for $89/night. Similarly rated hotel rooms will run you at least $110/night, and you’re going to need at least two of them unless you’re a really cozy foursome.
Hotels Can Be Cheaper for Short-Term Stays
Airbnb rentals typically come with a tacked-on cleaning and service fee at the end of your stay; $50–$100 on average. If you’re staying for a week, that’s not a big deal, and averages out to a pretty low cost per night. If you’re staying for a night, that can be pretty significant.
Hotels, on the other hand, bundle room service into your nightly rate. Your cleaning fee is the same per night whether you’re staying one night or 10. That means that for overnight or short-term stays, hotels can sometimes have an edge when it comes to total cost.
Winner: It Depends
There’s no clear winner here because it really depends on what you’re looking for.
When it comes to traditional, dependable “hotel style” services, hotels are obviously the winner. Your Airbnb is unlikely to come with valet parking, a concierge or a fitness center. On the other hand, it might well come with unique local perspective, in-room laundry facilities and on-premise horse-petting opportunities.
But seriously, don’t underestimate the value of an Airbnb with a washer-dryer. If you’re packing light (and you should be) on a multi-week trip, it’s likely you’re going to have to do laundry every three to five days. Stay in a hotel, and your options are to either use the sink, pay exorbitant fees for hotel laundry services or burn an afternoon at the laundromat.
Staying in a place with a washer-dryer means that you can easily get a load washed in the evening before turning in.
Still, perhaps buoyed by their non-traditional competition, some hotels have started to offer truly unique services and amenities, from a soap concierge to a pair of wolf ears.
The Secret to the Best Sleep Anywhere
Whatever you decide is right for your next trip, you’ll be better off bringing along a tool that can help you get a great sleep anywhere: the all-new updated version of our award-winning Evolution Cool neck pillow.
The new Evolution Cool is designed to circulate air while you sleep, helping you naturally regulate temperatures and stay comfortable in any climate. Its magnetic clasp keeps it secure around your neck, and the entire pillow adjusts to your custom comfort. Its moisture-wicking cover is removable and washable, and every pillow comes with a pair of ultra-comfortable memory-foam ear plugs.
So, live adventure and take a chance on a unique hotel or Airbnb booking, but bring along the new Evolution Cool as backup, just in case things don’t quite work out as planned.