A lot of people ask me what I think about the big vacation decision: AirBNB vs hotel. I’ve done both many times and I definitely have some advice for how I make that decision. Here are some common scenarios and what the winner is in my eyes.

You’re traveling with kids

Winner: AirBNB (or vacation rental through another site)

When you are traveling with kids, it’s so much easier to have your own kitchen and not have to stress if the kids are making a mess or being loud. You’re also not going to have to pay restaurant prices for every meal, which is great when you have little ones that sometimes barely eat. Another bonus is that when kids go to bed early, the adults can hang out and have sips without being sequestered in hotel rooms by 8:30pm. Get a big house the whole group can share and it’s likely to be a more enjoyable way to go. The main photo above  in this article was taken at a villa I stayed at with my family in Tulum that I found on AirBNB. It was both luxurious and kid friendly!

You’re doing a European city tour

Winner: AirBNB (or vacation rental through another site)

When I’m in Europe, I love getting AirBNBs. When I’m on a city trip, I’m not going to be in my room all that much since there is a lot of sightseeing to do. BUT, when I’m exhausted from all the walking and jet lag and my feet hurt, it’s awesome to go back to an apartment to chill. I also like the fact that you get to experience the city more like a local. I always choose places that are in lively neighborhoods that are close to public transit so I can immerse a little more.

I also feel less guilty when I do want to take a break. It feels like I’m wasting my precious time if I’m sitting in a small hotel room but if I’m in a cool apartment in a neighborhood, I feel less guilty. For instance, in Athens my view from my AirBNB looked out over the Acropolis. I mean, how awesome is that? Lastly, hotel rooms in Europe tend to be really small, so an apartment gives a lot more comfort for a great price.

Pro Tip: Double check for air conditioning if you’re traveling when it’s warm out. European flats may not always have it.

AirBNB in Athens, Greece
View from my AirBNB in Athens

You’re traveling with a large group that wants to hang together

Winner: AirBNB (or vacation rental through another site)

If you have a big group and part of the fun is being together, then rent a large place so you can do just that! If you are going somewhere tropical, you are likely to find really large homes on prime real estate you can rent and it may be more economical that way than the resorts. You should also ask if they have house managers, housekeeping, bartending services, etc. to help make your stay more like a resort. Places like Mexico, Jamaica and the islands often have full-service vacation homes. I’ve done it in Puerto Vallarta and it’s awesome. AirBNB is one place to look but also look at Homeaway/VRBO.

Pro Tip: With Homeaway, you don’t necessarily have to go through them to book. Sometimes the owners will want to take the conversation “offline” and work with you directly. You’ll likely get a better price this way because you (and they) won’t have to pay as high of fees, but you should talk to the owner on the phone and check references to ensure there is no scam.

You’re looking for a luxury, relaxing vacation

Winner: Hotel (more specifically, a resort)

One situation where I’ll say it’s better to go with a resort is when you really want to get pampered. If you are going to an idyllic setting and you want to swim and relax, it’s also really nice to have bar service, housekeeping, spas, restaurants and the best stretches of beach. Usually the grounds of the resort are also really part of how beautiful a place can be. There’s nothing more relaxing than not lifting a finger for a week, so if you’re going somewhere where the resorts are stunning and you want the top treatment, go for the resort. This is also true for mountain areas where the resorts are equipped to put you in the best areas and help you with equipment and activities.

Kouros Hotel pool in Mykonos, Greece
Kouros Hotel in Mykonos, Greece

It is your first international trip

Winner: Hotel

If it’s your first time leaving the country and you’re not going with an experienced traveler, I would say you should stay in a hotel. They can help you with transportation from the airport and orienting you to the destination. They can give you tips for sightseeing, restaurants and general knowledge about the culture to hopefully relieve any stress and allow you to fully enjoy your new experience.

You have any trepidation

Winner: Hotel

If you have any concerns about where you are going, there is peace of mind in staying at a hotel. The staff will help you, answer questions and put you at ease. This could be true for cities or remote areas where you want someone that is familiar with the landscape to stay safe.

So, how does the AirBNB vs Hotel showdown look for you? Good luck on making the right call! If you want tips on how to choose a safe and reliable AirBNB host, read on here.


Marissa is a travel consultant and digital marketing professional from Chicago, USA. Her business, Sips & Sojourn, specializes in helping busy people with full-time jobs travel more and travel better. Travel is Marissa's absolute passion but she believes you can hold down a successful career AND travel the globe. Marissa enjoys unique destinations, design hotels, sampling a culture's food and drink and meeting local guides focused on small, immersive experiences.

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