I wrote about using my Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card’s vacation rental credit to book a hotel instead of a “traditional” Airbnb or VRBO.
In other words, I didn’t stay at a stranger’s house.
I mentioned I’m much more of a “hotel person” than a “stay-at-other-people’s-home person.” (That even applies occasionally when visiting family. I know that might seem strange.)
Some friends are the complete opposite. Sure, staying in hotels isn’t exactly a punishment. But they stare longingly out their hotel room window — wondering what kind of fun or unique experience Airbnb guests are having elsewhere in town.
So, this presents an excellent opportunity to discuss some pros and cons of both. And I’m curious which you prefer: hotels or vacation rentals — and why?
Why I Prefer Hotels Over Vacation Rentals
I grew up visiting hotels a couple of times each year. My dad frequently traveled for business and racked up tons of Northwest Airlines WorldPerks miles and Hyatt Gold Passport points.
No doubt hotel stays played a part in my travel passion that started when I was six years old. I have fond memories of the Hyatt Grand Cypress in Orlando and the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis. Both are excellent properties.
Staying in hotels has always been a privilege I enjoy. (Well, usually enjoy. A couple of stays were disasters, like at the Days Inn in Austin with blood-stained sheets.)
Plus, I enjoy being spoiled when I travel. I admit it. Whether I travel for business or vacation, I appreciate having someone tidy up my hotel room. During vacation trips, it’s a luxury for my family to return to made beds, fresh towels, replenished supplies, and that “clean” smell.
Those qualities also are very welcoming when I travel for work and come back to my room after a long day.
Many hotels feature either a restaurant and bar. If they don’t, they are probably close to one or the other. I genuinely love cooking (especially with my wife). We regularly make our meals at home. But I enjoy the convenience and experience of dining out during trips. (And not doing dishes.) Hotel bars can be great places to enjoy a beverage while meeting people from around the world.
There’s also the comfort of knowing what I’m getting into when I stay at hotels. I can ask the front desk to move me to another room if something is wrong with my original assignment. If something goes wrong at a vacation rental, there’s the pain of getting in touch with the homeowner or property manager — then getting them to fix it (if they can) or summoning the appropriate help to get there as soon as possible.
Finally, I generally don’t need much space when traveling by myself or even with my family of three. Suite upgrades are fun and appreciated, sure. But I don’t need an apartment or a house.
I rarely spend entire days in hotel rooms. I work on location, enjoy pool time with my daughter, or explore the city.
Also, I get creeped out by using strangers’ “things.” I like the anonymity of hotels. Seeing other people’s photos and items special to them is fine for a brief visit — like coffee, drinks, or dinner. But staying overnight just isn’t something that comforts me.
This sounds like a(nother) very strange reason to avoid vacation rentals, but I swear it’s true (especially with a child): I’m terrified of somehow breaking other people’s belongings. I come from a family colloquially known as the Clutzy Carleys. (See? We can’t even correctly spell “Klutzy.”) I don’t want to accidentally do something to their coffee table. I’m scared my daughter will pull a Hey, Mom and Dad aren’t looking. What happens if I do this? sort of thing.
That said: I’ve enjoyed some wonderful stays at vacation rentals.
My in-laws used to rent a “Castle House” near Disneyland each Christmas for the entire family to spend a few days. I always looked forward to that. (Then Anaheim put the kibosh on vacation rentals only to reverse course a few years later.)
Similarly, my parents rented houses when all five of their kids (we’re a blended family) could come with wives, significant others, and children. Those trips were a blast.
My wife and I stayed in a cozy townhome in Amsterdam. The host stayed on property — and was charming, helpful, and makes a heck of an espresso. (His husband is a doctor; we think the bed & breakfast is something the good doctor bought to keep his man happy and busy.)
I’m open to unique experiences offered by some vacation rentals. I’ve seen some “Stay on my houseboat” opportunities — complete with a boat ride! Or something when the property is a destination itself. But staying in someone else’s house or apartment just because? Not my cup of tea.
Why My Friend Prefers Vacation Rentals
My colleague and good friend “Mia” is a world traveler. (“Mia” is a nickname.) She lived abroad and enjoys traveling domestically and internationally. (For those wondering, her go-to card is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.)
There are many reasons Mia prefers vacation rentals over hotels.
I’ll start with the biggest selling point she gave me.
“You can get an inside look at how other cultures live!” she said. “I always stay in condos or homes abroad. It’s cool to see different features and feel like a local.”
As for the properties themselves?
Mia said she can “find incredibly stylish, well-designed homes, versus more traditional/standard styling in hotels. Even boutique hotels can’t come close to features in a well-designed home, high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, etc.”
Mia also mentioned she enjoys private outdoor spaces, the use of a kitchen and full-size fridge, and quick and easy parking.
Plus, she seeks out places with fireplaces and porches.
She likes that vacation rentals are a home — not just a random room. That helps her get comfortable and acclimate. And she can be as close or far from city centers as she pleases.
“I never use housekeeping, so I don’t miss that feature,” Mia told me. “I also love that no one will knock on my door. I never leave hotel rooms a mess, so it doesn’t bother me to tidy up an Airbnb before I leave. Pile up the towels, clean the dishes, etc.
“I like to be removed from other people since they make regular life so stressful,” she said. “And I don’t need to interact with anyone on check-in or check-out.”
I get that.
Mia brings up some interesting points. And based on the pictures she provided, she seems to find some gorgeous properties.
Which is YOUR Choice?
I want to hear from you! Please share your thoughts as to your preference: hotels or vacation rentals? Maybe you overwhelmingly prefer one over the other. Perhaps you’re 51%-49% in favor of one.
Tell us in the below Comments section which you prefer — and why!
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