It’s a question that pops up in almost every trip planned: Where do you want to stay? These days, travelers are more likely to be choosing between a traditional hotel and a home or apartment rental.
For budget travelers looking for the lowest-cost option, hotels deliver lower rates on average—something that may come as a surprise to many travelers. Among the favorite travel destinations MONEY analyzed, there were less than 40 cities where the average rate for an apartment on Airbnb was cheaper than a hotel.
WHERE TO STAY IN AIRBNB
These cities offer the BIGGEST PRICE BREAK by staying in a vacation rental OVER A HOTEL (USA Rankwise):
|City||State||Average Hotel Rate / Night||Average Airbnb Rate / Night||Airbnb Saves|
Note: Airbnb rate, provided by AirDNA, is for an entire apartment rental in 2017. Hotel pricing is based on 2017 rates provided by Hotels.com, Booking.com, and Hipmunk. In fact, Airbnb prices increased 5.4% over the past year, as opposed to hotel rates, which rose less than 1%, according to MONEY’s research.
“Everyone is looking for a good deal, but in many markets, Airbnb can be more pricey than a basic hotel room,” says Scott Shatford, founder of AirDNA—a company that tracks Airbnb pricing. For MONEY’s analysis, AirDNA provided pricing for entire apartment rentals, while Hotels.com, Booking.com, Hipmunk.com, and Trip by Skyscanner provided hotel rates.
I recently had the chance to look up a 2-3 bed space (apartment rental) in Barcelona, Spain for somewhere between $90-$150 which I thought is a good deal given that we were living close to the city.
Of course, when it comes to finding lodging, the price isn’t always everything. According to Airbnb’s own research, those who rent out vacation rentals (predominately millennials) aren’t always looking for the lowest cost; about 80% of millennials say they’re looking to live like locals when they travel, Airbnb found.
When making your decision between an Airbnb spot and a hotel, Shatford says it’s helpful to consider three factors: price, location, and length of stay.
If location is key, it may make the most sense to search for an Airbnb rental: Typically, they are distributed more evenly across a city than hotels are, so there is more of a chance you’ll find one in an area you want. In fact, Airbnb reports that 74% of its rentals are outside the main hotel districts.
Hotels can be easier for shorter stays (one or two nights), however, because there’s not much uncertainty about the check-in process or extended communication with hosts.