7 reasons I'd choose a hotel over Airbnb any day

  • I’ve found that Airbnb combines the negative aspects of being at home with none of the amenities of a hotel.
  • Comparing check-in processes and other aspects, here are seven reasons why I’d rather stay at a hotel than an Airbnb.

Airbnb was founded to allow homeowners and tenants to make extra money by renting a room or a whole apartment when they were away.

Ideally, travellers could find a place to stay for a fraction of the price of even a cheap hotel.

It seemed like a good idea, but, like so many tech startups, the online rental platform has had unintended negative consequences.

On that note, here are seven reasons why I’d choose a hotel over Airbnb any day:


1. Hotels have an easier check-in

To check into a hotel, you just walk into the lobby any time of the day or night.

I’ve found that checking into an Airbnb is more like a treasure hunt. You likely won’t know the address until a couple of days before your stay. And you’ll have to be in detailed communication with the room’s host to figure out the variables of your check-in situation, which can lead to directions that involve lock boxes and combinations.

Personally, this is not what I want to deal with when I’m exhausted and jet lagged.


2. With a hotel, what you see is what you get

With Airbnb, the photos for a room could look great online but appear completely different in person. The space may not be as advertised or the neighbourhood could be a nightmare.

My last Airbnb stay, at a small apartment in Chicago, was advertised as work-friendly, but there was no desk and the only table was outside, on the balcony. The kitchen was so narrow that the fridge door couldn’t completely open. The furniture looked like it had come from the dumpster behind a Goodwill. And the air conditioner sounded like a freight train. A hotel – any hotel – would have been better.


3. Hotels won’t cancel on you with short notice

Airbnb penalizes hosts who cancel reservations, but it happens, and it can ruin your vacation. One traveller reported to Consumer Affairs that he was stranded in Shinjuku, Japan, when his host cancelled without notice, and his story is just one of many.

In addition, the platform’s cancellation policies for guests aren’t particularly flexible. That’s why I prefer a hotel: the hotel won’t cancel on me, and I can change my reservation on short notice.


4. Hotels have a concierge

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

No concierge means nowhere to stash your bags if you arrive early or leave late. If you have a problem with your accommodations at a hotel, someone will usually come to your room quickly and even change your room if the problem can’t be fixed.

At an Airbnb, you’re at the mercy of your host, who may or may not be responsive. During my last Airbnb stay, the lamps in the apartment were broken, and the shower didn’t drain. I told the host, who thanked me for letting him know but did nothing to fix the problems during the week I was stuck there.


5. Airbnb has been a platform for racial discrimination

Joe Scarnici/Getty

People of colour have sometimes found themselves rejected by Airbnb hosts. The platform has worked to combat this, developing a nondiscrimination policy and working with the NAACP to tackle the problem.

But prejudice can extend beyond the host, as it did this earlier year, when a neighbour called the police on three black women as they checked out of their Airbnb in Rialto, California. The nature of a system where individuals get to decide who does and doesn’t stay at their houses is still a setup for racism that’s hard to root out. So, I’m out.


6. Hotels aren’t necessarily more expensive than an Airbnb

As Quartz reported, a number of cities around the world are wiping out the cost advantage of Airbnbs by levying the same occupancy taxes on Airbnb that they do on hotels. Once you add Airbnb’s guest service fee(which can be as much as 20%), the cost advantage over a hotel room could very well be erased.

For instance, the last few times I’ve looked for a place to stay, Airbnb looked cheaper than a hotel until I got to the bottom line. Adding taxes and cleaning fees, an Airbnb stay cost about the same as the hotel I opted for, without the hotel’s amenities.


7. You can jump on a hotel room bed

When I stay in someone’s house, I feel compelled to be polite, to pitch in with the cleaning and to be a good guest.

When I stay at a hotel, I try to be considerate of the housekeeping staff, but I have permission to throw my towels on the floor, and I can jump on the bed if I want to without worrying about damaging a person’s property. Now that’s a vacation.

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