If, like me, you’re a frugal traveller but dislike the company of strangers (or people in general), Air Bnb has been a wonderful alternative to hostels, and a budget friendly alternative to hotels.
But which is better? Do you splurge on a hotel and (almost) guarantee a level of comfort? Or do you risk it on a strangers home in a country you don’t know? Let’s weigh up the pros and cons shall we?
Air Bnb: Pros.
Let’s look first to the new kid on the block. Air Bnb was founded in 2008 to give travellers an alternative between hotels and hostels, throwing the idea to locals all over the world and allowing them to open their doors to perfect strangers, giving an insight into cultures and ways of life often found lacking in hotels. which brings me to my first positive point. It’s a fantastic way to get off the beaten path and really live like a local. Whether you stay in the room of a home occupied by your host, or rent a place to yourself, you’re almost certain to get a unique experience during your stay. Price is another great factor, with a lot of properties falling far below the cost of a hotel room in the same area. Variety is another, with options ranging from log cabins to luxury apartments, Air Bnb seems to have it all.
Air Bnb: Cons.
It’s not all rainbows and unicorns of course. One issue I’ve personally found is that some properties aren’t quite what they first seemed. For instance, maybe it doesn’t look as glossy in real life as it did in pictures, or it didn’t match the description, or the owners flat out lied about certain facilities (always read the ratings from other guests). Another downside is often location. Some places are way out from the main hub, meaning the cost of renting isn’t usually offset by the cost of transport to get to where you want to be. And finally, it’s the thought of living in the home of a complete stranger. Are they nice? Will you get on? What if you fall out with them? It’s a bit of a leap of faith.
For the most part, hotels are long established businesses with a professional standard and years of experience you just can’t emulate easily in the home of another person. So my first pro is definitely service. Whilst there are of course bad apples, a lot of hotels pride themselves on guests having a wonderful stay, and will often go the extra mile to ensure this (especially in this digital world where a bad online review can cause a lot of damage to their reputation). Another positive is even basic hotels have a decent amount of facilities. Free wifi, parking, extra blankets and pillows, toiletries, TV’s, and 24 hour access to the front desk to name just a few. Location is another, with a lot of hotels usually in the heart of where you want to be, or at the least in a place that makes it easy to get there.
The lack of personal touch can be a main con. Most hotels are set up to look professional, usually meaning you won’t see much of a nod to the owners or their lifestyle. Location can be a con as well as a pro, but looking at it negatively, a central location could see you not venture too far out, meaning you may well miss out on experiences and localities. Finally, cost. Whilst of course there are lots of ways to book and save, for the most part hotels can be almost as pricey as flights, more so if you really do love your luxury.
It’s actually hard for me to choose one over the other. I really love the local feeling and personality of an Air BnB, but equally after a long day of exploring, I like a cosy and safe hotel to return to that I can rest my head at. My advice? Mix it up. On one trip, try an Air BnB (especially if you never have), and see how it goes. If it isn’t for you, switch back to hotels and just trawl the comparison sites for a deal (Expedia, Booking.com, and Hotels.com are among the best).
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