This past trip to Italy was the first time I had bothered staying with AirBNB’s in a number of years. Prior to that, the only time I had was on a trip where we were staying in New York I believe it was for around a 5 day period, back in 2015, I believe. So, its been a while.
This most recent to trip to Italy, however we stayed in several AirBNB’s, as our stays in several cities tended to be a bit longer than the usual quick in and out of town that we do, trying to pack as many cities as possible into a 1 or two week timeframe.
We stayed in three AirBNB’s over the course of our trip. One of the draws for AirBNB originally back in the 2010’s was getting a place that was cheaper than a comparable hotel room. Still today AirBNB’s can also be more affordable if traveling as a large group and need a lot of beds, something that I have tended to avoid.
Additionally, with the costs, as well as additional fees that come with AirBNB’s, cleaning fees, check in fee’s etc, it can in fact now be more expensive than a hotel in a comparable location.
However, AirBNB’s still have a degree of uniqueness. For instance, we would likely be unable to find a hotel that would be comparable to our place in Minori with the hilltop balcony overlooking the town.
There is also location, in that AirBNB’s aren’t necessarily near what tourists are looking to do. Our place in Rome was pleasant, and had a host who was able to guide us through all the things to do in the area, thought the place was a pretty big hike to the things we were looking to do.
Dealing with hosts also can present their own set of problems. For instance, there was a moment of concern that we wouldn’t be able to connect with the host’s representative to check in in Minori because I didn’t have we-chat on my phone at the time, eventually we figured out other ways to get in contact with the right party. This was a minor issue, but had there say, been a hotel with a check in desk it wouldn’t have been an issue at all. Besides, as I mentioned, the place in Minori was worth it.
There was also the more serious issue in Naples where our AirBNB was double booked, and we were forced to stay in the owners unit, in spite of paying to stay in a private unit as we expected. Shit can happen when you’re on vacation, and sometimes the best plan is to just deal with what comes your way.
For my upcoming sabbatical, my plan is to spend most of the initial 4 week in hotels, as I don’t plan to stay in any one city more than two to three nights. For the Portugal ‘House Hunters International’ part of the trip, however, we will likely stay in AirBNB’s.
In Portugal, there is second aspect of the trip, in addition to the vacation part, we also want to explore the communities, and see what type of community we would want to invest in. Something you’re not necessarily going to get by staying in a hotel in the tourist center of town. We’re also interested in activities the locals would be doing, not just what the local tourism industry is pushing.
In addition, we would likely be staying in only 2 areas, Lisbon and Porto, spending 5 to 6 days in each of them, playing to the cost advantage of AirBNB in terms of medium to long term rentals, and just prepare for whatever may come our way.
I would also like to only stay with their ‘Super Hosts’ who have at least a four star review, and have a lot of reviews for that particular property. Given that I will be doing this in the fall, outside peek travel time, this should be somewhat feasible.
Advantages of AirBNB
- You generally get a lot more space than a hotel room, including facilities such as laundry in the unit, which can be handy if you’re doing a 6 week sabbatical out of a carry on suitcase
- The units are a lot more unique than just staying in a hotel room, where as a Hilton in Rome is generally the same as as Hilton in San Francisco
- Getting to experience the neighborhoods of the destination, not just the ‘touristy’ areas
- They’re convenient if traveling in large groups, where as you can find units that sleep more than 2 people, so everyone can stay in the same unit.
- They can be cheeper if staying for a long period of four or more days, where as the fees would only need to be paid once for the entire stay
Advantages of Hotels
- Fees are generally upfront. Sure, you sometimes run into the ‘resort fee’ but the hotel generally has to be upfront with those things, and tell you at the time of booking.
- Costs can be lower if you’re just staying for one or two nights.
- You know what you’re getting, even if it’s cooke cutter. That can be a good thing at times. As mentioned, a Hilton in Rome is comparable to a Hilton in San Francisco.
- There’s a check in desk, so the check in procedure is pretty well established.
- They tend to be located in the center of what tourists are looking to do, so not as much walking to activities.
- They also have things like elevators, which can be handy if you need to go up six stories to your room.
AirBNB’s and Hotels seem to each have their own advantages and disadvantages, as mentioned above. I suppose it depends on several factors, length of stay, willingness to not be in the center of everything, that could give one an advantage over the other.