Airbnb is THE website to find a place to stay when you travel today. But is it actually the best way to find lodging? I’ve stayed in tons of different Airbnbs, from a tiny cabin in upstate New York to an apartment in the heart of Florence, but staying in an Airbnb isn’t always the best option for me. So I’ve come up with a list of pros and cons of Airbnb so you can see if it’s the best way to find lodging for you!
If you don’t really know what Airbnb is, it’s a website where people can rent their rooms, apartments, houses, and even campers and treehouses out to travelers (I have only rented entire apartments/houses with Airbnbs, so I cannot speak to renting a room in someone’s apartment). Digital Trends has a good article about the background of Airbnb and how it was started if you’re interested in learning more. I use Airbnb a lot when I travel but not for every trip, and I explain why it’s better for some trips than others in my pros and cons of Airbnb!
Airbnb in Venice
Pros of Airbnb
–You (usually) get a kitchen. Which is great for staying in a place long term so you can cook! (But check the list of amenities in an apartment to see what they have because I stayed in one that didn’t have a microwave and I didn’t realize it until I was there.)
–You get more space than in a hotel. I’m one of 5 kids and I remember vacations with my family crammed into two hotel rooms with suitcases overflowing and we would all squeeze onto one bed to watch TV, but with an Airbnb, you can get more bang for your buck and have more bedrooms, bathrooms, and have a living area where everyone can hang out. I’ve also shared Airbnbs with groups of friends and it’s been great to be able to spread out and have an area to cook and hang out.
–It can often be cheaper. This is especially true if you’re with a large group of people so you can split the bill. When I was traveling around Italy with three friends, we didn’t pay more than 40 euros a night per person and we stayed in some of the nicest apartments- one in the center of Florence even had a fancy chandelier!
–It’s easier to stay in more remote places. If you want to stay in an Airstream in the middle of the desert or even if you just have a wedding to go to in the countryside, it can be a lot easier to find an Airbnb than a hotel.
–Airbnbs can have some unique perks. The cabin in upstate New York I stayed in had a fenced in dog run so Annika could run around, and a house in North Carolina I stayed in was on a lake and had kayaks and a fire pit.
–You can travel with pets. When looking at Airbnbs, you can select places that are pet friendly, which is great for when I travel with Annika!
Dog run at the Airbnb in New York
–Reviews are usually pretty honest. I always read reviews before I book an Airbnb to make sure it’s a clean and safe place without any issues.
–Some hosts go above and beyond! Some hosts are very accommodating and will give you tips for restaurants and places to go, and some will even leave snacks and food to cook with. I’ve had perks from having basic cooking supplies like olive oil and salt available to having orange juice and croissants available.
Airbnb in Florence
Cons of Airbnb
–The owner isn’t always available if you need something. Thankfully, I haven’t had an emergencies or major issues that some people have had when they stay in an Airbnb, but even small things like running out of toilet paper or finding evidence of mice can make things more complicated since you can’t run down to the front desk in a hotel to get something.
–It can also be hard to contact the owner. In most cases, you communicate with the owner through Airbnb so you don’t have their phone number or email (which is understandable for safety reasons), so it can be hard to connect with them sometimes. For one Airbnb in Italy, we had to meet with the owner to get the keys and she was pretty late and wasn’t responding to our messages on the Airbnb website. It was fine in the end, but we were worried for a while that something had happened, and it made us late for other activities.
–You have to pay a cleaning fee. The cleaning fee varies from place to place but it usually isn’t very cheap, so it can make the place more expensive than a hotel if you’re just staying for one or two nights.
–The prices change for demand or tourist season. This is the same as many hotels and vacation homes, but just be aware that the price you see now can double or triple in price.
Airbnb in Florence
–There are some sketchy or weird places. Always read reviews and look at the pictures before you book! I’ve seen people talk about Airbnb nightmares, and one apartment even had no windows. Yes, zero windows in the entire apartment.
–They can go fast. A hotel has many rooms, but Airbnbs obviously don’t. If you have one in mind that you want to stay in, book it before it’s gone! Twice I’ve had Airbnbs slip through my fingers and for a trip I’m planning now, all the affordable places were booked when I started looking (even two months before my trip!), so I have to stay in hotels.
–The check in times can be strict. The check in time is up to the host, so it can really vary. I haven’t had an issue with it, but if you’re on a strict schedule or if you arrive early in the day and need a place to store your luggage, the host usually can’t accommodate that from my experience.
–The host can cancel on you. I haven’t had this happen to me (*knock on wood*), but Airbnb hosts can cancel on their guests at the last minute.
–You can’t control the environment. I’ve stayed in hotels with noisy neighbors before, but you can always call the hotel staff to take care of it. If you’re staying in an apartment with thin walls and the neighbors are throwing a rager, you can’t really call your host to take care of it.
–There usually aren’t features like pools and gyms. There are unique perks (like the kayaks and fire pit I mentioned earlier), but there usually aren’t pools, hot tubs, gyms, etc. like you would get in a hotel.
Airbnb in New York
–They aren’t always handicap friendly. Many Airbnbs I’ve stayed in are up several flights of stairs, have steep driveways, or have small bathrooms, so if you’re in a wheelchair or have crutches or need assistance with anything, many Airbnbs wouldn’t be accessible.
–The home can have some unusual features. My friends recently visited me and stayed in an Airbnb that had a kitchen in a remodeled closet, so it was tiny and you couldn’t even open some cabinets. I stayed in an Airbnb that had a bedroom in a converted garage, so the walls were thinner and there wasn’t as much insulation. These aren’t necessarily bad, but just be aware that not every Airbnb is glamorous.
So there you have it, the pros and cons of Airbnb. Airbnbs can be a gamble, but I really do love it! Some of the cons I listed aren’t necessarily “bad” things, but you do need to be aware of all the small things that make it different from hotels so you don’t end up disappointed.
I do think where you should stay depends on what you need. If you’re spending one night somewhere or if you’re on a road trip and will spend each night in a different place, it might be cheaper to get a hotel. If you want to know exactly what you’re getting without any risk, you’re probably better off with a hotel. If you’re with a big group of friends for more than a few nights, it might be cheaper to stay in an Airbnb. And if you want to stay in a unique or remote place, an Airbnb is perfect for you.
Airbnb in Florence
If you’re interested in booking an Airbnb for the first time, you can use my link to get $40 off your first trip! (And I’ll get a discount on my Airbnbs in return if you want to help fund my trips 🙂 )
If you don’t think that Airbnb is for you, don’t worry, there are also lots of other booking options to choose from! Like HomeAway, VRBO (connected with HomeAway), HomeExchange, Bed and Breakfast, and Homestay, just to name a few.
So what are your thoughts on Airbnb? Have you tried it yet?