During our 17-day trip to Europe, we had the opportunity to stay in both hotels and also in an airbnb listing. If you are not familiar with airbnb, it’s a website designed to help you find apartments to rent out wherever you go, in a safe, certified way. You get options of renting out a room, or a full place to yourself. Although I probably don’t have nearly enough airbnb experience to judge it so quickly, I have enough travel and life experience to make some conclusions.
I’m going to start this post by comparing different aspects of staying abroad between hotels and apartments in a factual kind of way. I’m saving my opinions all the way to the end.
Price Per Night:
No matter where you go, you always have to research both options. Although on average a hotel will be pricier, sometimes airbnb isn’t too far behind. Renting for at least a week (or a week at a time) on airbnb is usually cheaper and makes more sense than staying in a hotel, or even getting an apartment a day or two short of a full week.
An apartment with airbnb will most likely provide you with a kitchen. This means you can stock up on groceries and cook some meals on your own! Hotels may or may not have breakfast included at most, and in the best case scenario you will have a fridge in your room. A week of groceries usually comes down to being cheaper than around 15 meals at restaurants.
Renting an apartment for a week is just like renting an apartment permanently. You have only yourself to depend on to keep the place tidy and clean, and to avoid all possible problems. God forbid the toilet gets clogged… good luck. At most hotels, there is a concierge service that will take care of your every need and complaint. You also have the privilege of clean towels everyday and sparkling room by the time you are back from sight-seeing. If you are unfamiliar with the city, the hotel lobby staff could direct you where to go, how to get there, and the best way to do so. With airbnb, it depends on your conditions with the host, and the host himself. Maybe they will be able to help you, or maybe they will be unreachable.
MY TRUTH –
Both experiences were great, but as opposed to most student travellers, I think I would choose hotels as my preferred accommodation. The way I see it, I went to Europe to go on vacation. I’m not there to do my daily housework and cooking. I’m there to take full advantage of the city, and to enjoy it to the fullest. Having someone leave fresh towels for me is definitely a privilege, but that’s what makes the experience feel like a vacation. I’ve had enough apartment stays in Europe during my dancing career that involved more hours cooking and cleaning than actually dancing – what I came there to do at the time.
The only time airbnb would be really much more advantageous than a hotel is if you’re in a city that has a horrible selection of restaurants. In Amsterdam and Paris I found it was hard to find very good “worth-your-dollar” places to eat. That being said, I think it was the lack of being informed.
In the cities that we visited for 3-4 days, I couldn’t have imagined staying in an apartment. It was nice being able to just leave my suitcase in the corner, and be out and about from morning until night. We had great hotels in those three cities. In Venice we even managed to find a fairly reasonably priced one, with a bit of authentic Venetian touches to it.
I am not a backpacking traveller, nor am I a tourist. I love doing out-of-the-ordinary things, instead of hopping on the City Sight-Seeing Bus. But I also like to get a true vacation out of my trip, and that is why airbnb is simply not for me. Although we have heard great stories about people who became friends with their hosts, my boyfriend and I prefer our privacy. We are all for meeting people on our trips, but at the end of the day, we want to come “home” to each other, and wind down in the best company we could possibly have.
If you have any questions about hotels, airbnb, or anything about my trip to Europe, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me privately.