Ever since Airbnb and its competitors sprung onto the market, travelers have benefited from a wider variety of choices about where to stay while they’re on vacation. But if you have never opted to stay in a short-term vacation rental property before, you might be skeptical about it.

Can an Airbnb compare with the luxury of a hotel? Is the price difference really worth it? Is it safe?

The truth is that there are pros and cons to both hotels and vacation rental properties. Making the right choice really depends on your preferences and priorities as a traveler.

Vacation Rentals: Pros

The No. 1 reason to choose a vacation rental property is to save money. You can often find a better deal on Airbnb than you can in a hotel room.

This is particularly true if you have a family with several kids or if you are traveling in a group. One condo with beds for six people on Airbnb is often comparable to the price of a hotel room with one or two beds.

Another reason many people prefer vacation rentals is because the experience is more authentic to the place they want to visit. Your host can often recommend food and fun off the beaten path if you don’t want to fill up your trip with exclusively tourist attractions. It’s also often easier (and less expensive) to stay near a city center when you book a vacation rental property.

If you have a good host who keeps their rental property “sparkling clean” and attends to your needs as a guest, you can still feel just as luxurious as you would have in a hotel room.

Last but not least, it is worth mentioning that there are far more vacation rental properties that allow pets than hotels willing to accommodate them. So, if you have to bring a furry friend along on your trip, a vacation rental is probably your best bet.

Vacation Rentals: Cons

One of the biggest downsides to vacation rentals is the lack of privacy. In some Airbnb properties, you have the whole condo to yourself.

But in others, you are sharing space with your host family. If you are a people person, this might be a plus. If you crave the relaxation of alone time, it’s definitely a con.

Another issue that can arise with vacation rentals is cleanliness. If you choose a property with an experienced Airbnb “superhost,” it is unlikely that your rental will be anything less than pristine. But it is important to keep in mind that part of what makes vacation rentals cost effective is the lack of professional staff. There is no maid service for a short-term rental property, only your host.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that sometimes Airbnb properties aren’t actually the best deal if you are traveling single or as a couple. Using discount hotel websites, you can usually find a room for two people at a comparable price to most vacation rentals. The money saving is most noticeable if you are traveling with a larger group of four people or more.

Hotels: Pros

The comfort of staying in a hotel is that there is staff ready to attend to your every need. If something isn’t right in your room, there is always someone around who can be accountable. If your room isn’t clean, a concierge can simply get you another one.

Hotels also tend to have additional perks, like room service, pools, fitness centers, and spas. They always have plenty of parking, which is normally free. They usually have business centers just in case you need to print out a boarding pass or take care of a work emergency.

Hotels can also sometimes be just as affordable as vacation rental properties if you are traveling as a group of three or less people. Check websites like Booking.com, Expedia, and Trivago and compare the prices to Airbnb.

Hotels: Cons

If you can’t find a great deal for your vacation dates or you are traveling with a larger group, hotels definitely aren’t the most affordable choice. They also tend to be cramped. Four people sharing two queen beds and one bathroom is considerably less comfortable than four people sharing a whole condo.

If you are bringing a pet with you, your options for hotels are severely limited and increasingly expensive. Even if you do find an affordable hotel that allows pets, your animal won’t have very much space to move around. While vacation rentals sometimes have enclosed backyards, hotels typically do not have any pet-friendly outdoor spaces.

The Breakdown

Here are some of the key takeaways for vacation rentals and hotels.

Vacation Rentals

  • Most cost effective for large parties of four or more.
  • Offer more space and versatility.
  • Introduce you to local people and places (not just tourist attractions).
  • Can be sparkling clean depending on the host.
  • Can force you to sacrifice privacy if you stay on property with your host family.


  • Full staff and maid service available for your whole trip.
  • Extra perks like room service, pools, fitness centers.
  • Guaranteed access to a computer and a printer.
  • Sometimes better pricing for smaller parties of three or less.
  • Less space.
  • Less pet-friendly.

Hotels vs. Vacation Rentals: Which Is Right for You?

In the great debate of hotels vs. vacation rentals, the bottom line is that it depends on the traveler.

Before you book a hotel or an Airbnb for your next vacation, decide what your key priorities are and compare them to the key attributes of each type of property. This will help you make the best decision for you and your family or friends.