My wife, daughter, and I stayed at a Los Angeles-area Airbnb last week. Our house hosted Thanksgiving; someone who shall remain nameless volunteered our master bedroom and daughter’s room so other family would have a place to stay.
Naturally, my brood of three needed a place to crash.
My wife found an Airbnb about three minutes away from our house. “Oh, it’ll be fun!” she said, fully enjoying the sneer on my face.
I really don’t like staying in short term rentals. Yes, I’ve enjoyed nice vacation rentals here and there. But this whole “rent my couch!” or “stay in our spare bedroom!” or “take our guest house!” movement just isn’t my thing.
Bad directions caused us to spend an hour walking around in Amsterdam — during a downpour. A client of mine who books us vendors’ travel once put seven of us in a San Francisco Airbnb — complete with bunk beds not designed for adults.
So I haven’t had great experiences.
In general, though, I’m not crazy about staying in other people’s homes. With that, here are the six reasons I’d much rather stay in a hotel than an Airbnb.
I Know What to Expect at Hotels
I admit it: I am a creature of habit. With the exception of a few purgatories that should be condemned, every hotel in which I’ve stayed is fairly standard: bed, desk, chair, bathroom, clean and bleached towels. Some are nicer than others but many do the job just fine.
Each Airbnb is inherently different. Some have a work desk! Some don’t. “Quaint” and “the place has personality” are cute synonyms for “lacking basic services” or “deal with it.”
Side note: I’m not a fan of sharing bathrooms with the host. (Which I realize isn’t always the situation — but has been during at least one Airbnb experience).
Check-In and Check-Out are Always Available
Two work colleagues assigned to a photoshoot in France took a few extra days to explore Europe. They split an Airbnb in either Belgium. Their train arrived late at night — and their host was nowhere to be found.
Apparently, he forgot to meet them. And was sleeping far away from the property they booked.
So here were these two young ladies in a foreign country without a place to stay that night. (Alas, they were fine. They ended up hanging out in a pub before having breakfast with locals in the morning.)
Granted, that’s a rather extreme example of what can go wrong. But you never worry about it — until it happens to you (or someone you know).
Last week, my wife had to arrange a check-in time with the property owner. The timing had to be convenient for both their schedules. This was easier said than done, considering both parties had Thanksgiving cooking preparations, families to accommodate, and children to tend to.
These are not problems at most hotels. Why?
Because reputable hotels are open all day and all night.
Are there hotels where the front desk receptionist is also the housekeeper, security guard, shuttle bus driver, and pool cleaner? Sure. But those are very few and far between. And hardly any belong to reputable companies.
Maintenance and Other Issues
Problem with the TV? HVAC issues? Plumbing clogged? Most hotels have onsite staff to remedy the situation ASAP. Or you likely can be moved to a different room.
With short term rentals, though, you have to hope the host can quickly fix any problems that arise. Or that their handy person is a short call away.
The king-size bed at our Airbnb last week had two pillows. Total. For my wife and me. The host didn’t stock any extras.
I’m uncomfortable in a stranger’s house — especially with their possessions. Call me paranoid or untrusting. But I’d hate for an Airbnb host to accidentally lose or throw away something — and blame it on me.
Granted, people can steal items from hotels (towels, Bibles, clothes hangars, glasses). But those don’t carry the personal value — financially or sentimentally — that some hosts have in their rental properties.
Not everyone enjoys living near vacation rental properties.
And some let you know.
During a couple of Christmases, my in-laws rented a home from the My Castle House group in Anaheim, California. (I must admit, their houses are very awesome.)
We stood outside each night to watch the Disneyland fireworks. Some neighbors were talking walks or arriving home from dinner or work. We waved and wished them a Merry Christmas. The neighbors glared at or just plain ignored us. One of them had a lawn sign urging a ban on short term rentals: “We want neighborhoods. Not stranger hoods!”
But you know what? I get it.
I like knowing each of my neighbors (well, except for a couple…) and knowing who’s in the area.
There are exceptions, of course. Our Airbnb in Amsterdam was near a mom and pop coffee shop (not one of those Amsterdam coffee shops). The baristas asked if we were staying at the Airbnb (apparently, its quite well-known), welcomed us to town, and offered any assistance we needed with directions or recommendations.
No Loyalty Program
You knew this was coming 🙂 .
Because I’m not an Airbnb person in general, their lack of a loyalty program isn’t a deal-breaker. But it certainly doesn’t endear them to me.
I’ve met some Airbnb hosts who would be amazing hoteliers. They’re hospitable and take great pride in their guests’ experiences.
I saw listings for some in Europe who owned houseboats and included a river cruise sightseeing package as part of the booking. That would be worth confronting my Airbnb-phobia 🙂
Is It Just Me?
Am I the only one who much prefers staying in hotels than Airbnbs or other short-term rentals? Is there something I’m missing? I’d love to hear your thoughts — please share them in the below Comments section!
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Those are some great points. I like consistency and knowing what to expect, especially in an unfamiliar place. And when on business, being able to get to a hotel, get settled, and focus on why I am there is very important.
We are a SUPERHOST and certainly dont share your lack of enthusiasm. For a more balanced, greater experience try renting entire places, which we do exclusively.
Comparing renting a bedroom in a guests house is not comparing apples with apples.
How is the kitchen experience and amenities in the unit compared to those on airbnb….not very good there.
Try comparing equals and location….thanks
Out of my 7 stays in Airbnbs I liked only 1 place and 2 places were so awful that just left within 30 minutes to cancel. The rest were just really bad. After the most recent stay I decided that’s it for Airbnbs.
You are braver than I am, Chris. I have never even been tempted by an Airbnb. My daughter-in-law loved them until the time she found a bedbug in one. Then it was get into the car, and drive all night home.
We did a family trip to Scotland last year, and I booked hotels. I am willing to pay a few dollars more for an on-site restaurant and a fully staffed desk. I want flexibility as to when I arrive and I like knowing that the key will be ready. I don’t want to spend my vacation shopping for food and cleaning the room. So, basically I’m paying for the lower stress and peace of mind which is more likely to come with a hotel. BTW, for the Scotland trip I used Bookings.com which understands “5 adults, 2 rooms”. Not every search engine does. Bookings got good reviews from the hoteliers that I spoke to as well.
I’ve personally never stayed in an Air BnB or the like but consistency is one of, if not, THE biggest thing for me and I get that with Hilton properties. With your comments about ‘sharing a space’ it just further cements my lack of interest in even trying something akin to a Youth Hostel. Of course I like the loyalty program too.
Totally agree. I don’t like staying in friends/family homes and strangers is just a bit too much. My wife does not share my opinion and as I result I’ve stayed in a couple that were….fine. Nothing went totally wrong but I was always on edge, not a fun way to spend time in a new city. I like hotels for the same reason I like airlines that have more than one flight a day into a city. Most times everything is, fine, when it’s not I like to have the option of a quick fix.
The thing is, I really *want* to like the short-term rental experience. I like the *idea* of Airbnb. Admittedly, these accomodations can offer an amazing and intimate experience of a place that a “mere” hotel simply can’t hope to. And if Airbnb is for you, I’m honestly glad you had a great time! But Chris makes a lot of valid points against, and I’ll add another: My experience is that if you’re trying to book a place for a large group, a short-term rental can provide excellent total cost savings. Unfortunately, my “tour group” often consists of just me and my wife. And when you factor in all the fees, a short-term rental will often run you about the same as–or even more than–a decent hotel. Now, if the short-term rental is the experience you’re looking for, it’s well worth it. But factoring in all the negatives that Chris rightly points out, I have yet to choose that option in these circumstances.
I am a hotel preference person for sure. I have experienced bed bugs, bad bathrooms, smells, and kitchens that were less than advertised. I had a friend who was expecting a full kitchen to cook a turkey in and arrived to find a toaster oven on top of a counter. I have also had some pleasant experiences as well. So prefer the consistency of a property that is accountable.
I used to think that way until I tried Airbnb. Once I decided that a few nights of my life is not a big risk I decided to try many. I would prefer to never stay in a hotel and would always choose Airbnb. I could eat at McDonalds every day for the rest of my life and know exactly what I would get, but would miss out of some rely great experiences with all the variety this world has to offer. Life has risks, but you have to weigh that against the bland and predictable.
I agree with Chris. I do not like Airbnbs. I like the convenience of arriving any time I would like without having to make arrangements. I love being able to call the front desk or room service and get what I need. But, I can see why some people like it, you get much more square footage for your money. I have a cousin that absolutely loves it. It is definitely not for me.
We stayed at an Airbnb in Amsterdam for a few days before taking a cruise. As there was no safe in the room, my wife lost about $2000 worth of jewelry (we think the cleaning people took it). After the cruise, we stayed in Amsterdam one more night. Flights back the day a cruise ship comes in require a lot more miles than the following day, We stayed at the Doubletree, directly across from the cruise port. Very convenient location. Free breakfast and it had a safe in the room. I wish we had stayed there for both stops.
I’ve been on the fence about Airbnb but after watching the nightly news tonight about how Anna Farris and her family experienced carbon monoxide poisoning at their Lake Tahoe, CA vacation rental this past Thanksgiving…I think I’ll stick to main stream hotels for safety reasons alone. https://www.google.com/amp/s/abc7.com/amp/health/anna-faris-family-lucky-to-be-alive-after-brush-with-co-poisoning/5731607/
For those of you who have never stayed in an Airbnb you don’t even deserve to have a response (hand flipping in the air flinging you away – no, not a finger). Yes, there are a lot of positives about hotels and Chris has listed most of them. Research, selecting ‘entire house’ (I have never rented a room from someone one in an occupied house so therefore I don’t have the right to comment on it), and taking the time to read reviews will yield a lot.
I’ve had bed bugs twice – once from the hospital and once in a hotel. What’s your point? Scabies and bed bugs are an ever growing and unfortunate part of our lives, and before you even think of starting with me – if Hilton, Marriott or Hyatt aren’t good enough for you then so be it (I refuse to call out the chain because it is just a huge problem in today’s world). OMG, if it is the worst thing that ever happens to you and your are TRULY a world traveler, look at how blessed you are and – get over it!
Let me sum it up easily…Air BnB…absolutely not! I am Diamond at Hilton and – while there is always a complaint here and there – you cannot compare the experiences. Air BnB is a function of this new era of alternate reality. FIrst, there was Uber and everyone can be a cab driver…now everyone can be hotelier.
When I am doing “normal” traveling – alone or with my spouse- I always choose a hotel for the reasons that Chris mentioned. But last year, I found myself traveling to an event with family members and we found a short term rental with a kitchen was both more cost-effective and comfortable. The short term rental was a corporate apartment with professional management and things went smoothly. Still, the apartment was on the side of the building near a busy street – had I been in a hotel I would have asked to be moved to the quieter side of the building – not an option with the rental unit. I would consider a corporate rental again for a large group but would not be interested in staying in a private home.
Also note a lot of the new booking.com non-hotel listings are airbnb-like. Was in the eastern Med last month and had multiple problems. First place, flooding downstairs (supposedly from the apt. we were in though only water usage was basic toilet use ) so had to move out of the apartment within 2 hours of check-in/pack out (plus 2+ hours to check-in). Another place, the a/c didn’t work until it was mentioned to them then they “supposedly” fix it but didn’t really work well afterwards. Third place, no hot water. Owner said worked all day to fix but it was lukewarm for the rest of the stay. We did have one great one day in Heraklion though. 1 out of 4 — not a good hit rate. Hotels would have been better bets.