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One of the biggest debates in the travel industry right now is hotels vs. vacation rentals. Some people swear that vacation rentals, like Airbnb‘s or VRBO‘s, are the only way to travel. Others have had bad experiences with them and have gone back to hotels. So, which one is actually best? Let’s walk through the pros and cons of each and find out once and for all!
Let’s start our breakdown of this debate of hotels vs. vacation rentals by looking at the pros and cons of hotels.
I feel like the biggest pros of staying in hotels are also some of the biggest cons of renting a vacation home. I guess that’s what makes the whole hotels vs. vacation rentals so difficult!
The biggest advantages of choosing a hotel for your vacation are:
- At hotels, you don’t have to worry about having to clean anything up when you leave. No one expects you to strip the beds or start the laundry or do the dishes. You can just relax and leave all the chores at home.
- Additionally, when you stay at hotels, you are not charged a “cleaning fee” on top of the price of your stay. The cost of housekeeping is included in the price of your room.
- Someone is available on site 24 hours a day to help you in the event you have an issue or need something during your stay. You don’t have to try and contact the host and wait for them to get back to you.
- If for some reason, your room is unacceptable, it is much easier to move to a different room in the hotel than it is to try and find an entirely new place to stay at the last minute.
- Unlike many vacation home rentals, hotels are owned and operated by companies. So, the level of customer service you can expect is usually higher than what you get from individuals.
- Hotels are generally located in areas near restaurants and attractions. This is not always the case with vacation rentals.
Of course, the cons of hotels is what makes people love vacation rentals so much.
- The biggest con of staying in hotels is the size of the rooms. It can be hard to justify the size of a hotel room when you can pay the same price or a little bit more and get an entire house or apartment.
- Hotel rooms will generally only accommodate a maximum of four people in a room. This means that if you have 5 or more people in your family, you must either book a suite or two adjoining rooms.
- You can’t control the noise created by other guests in hotels. There is nothing worse than trying to sleep in a hotel with thin walls and having a noisy neighbor that keeps you up all night.
- In hotels, you are limited in how much you are able to cook your own meals unless you book a suite that comes with a kitchenette.
- If you have small children that go to bed earlier than you do, it is difficult to not wake them up when you are all staying in the same hotel room.
In order to fully explore the hotels vs. vacation rentals debate, we now need to look at the pros and cons of staying in vacation home rentals.
Here are some of the most popular reasons why people love vacation rentals so much:
- The number one pro of vacation home rentals is that you get so much more space. Having more space allows your family to spread out a little more.
- Vacation rentals are optimal for larger families because they allow you to all stay in the same place.
- When you stay in a vacation rental, you usually get a kitchen which allows you to cook some of your meals.
- Vacation rentals can save you some money because many times they are cheaper per square foot than hotels plus you can save money by cooking instead of always eating out.
- When you choose to book a vacation rental, you get more of a feeling of home away from home than you do in a hotel.
- Vacation rentals can be a great choice when you travel with small kids because you can book a place with a yard where they can run around. Additionally, having separate bedrooms is awesome when you have family members with different bed times.
- Renting a house, condo, or apartment instead of staying in a hotel gives you more privacy during your vacation.
Now we have to look at the cons of booking a vacation home rental for your family vacations.
- The fees. While vacation rentals can be cheaper than hotels, especially for larger families, many times, there are a lot of fees that get tacked on to that price. These extra fees can make your stay much more expensive than it originally appeared.
- Another big con of renting a home for your vacation is the expectation of cleaning before you leave. This “rule” of what you must do before checking out varies widely. At some places, you are not expected to do anything. But, a lot of times, the host expects you to do the dishes, take out the trash, strip the beds, start the laundry, and more.
- An additional downside to vacation rentals is that you never know what the actual condition of the property will be until you arrive. I can’t tell you how many horror stories I’ve heard of people walking into their Airbnb or VRBO to find mold, a lack of heat, exposed wiring, broken locks, appliances that don’t work, and more.
- Another problem is dealing with an unresponsive host. Some times, you encounter problems with your rental and can’t get the host to fix them or even answer you. This may be the most frustrating negative on this entire list!
- Parking can also sometimes be a problem with vacation rentals. Unless the home you rent has onsite parking, you may be forced to hunt for street parking near your home. Additionally, some people have struggled with being able to actually park onsite at mountain homes due to icy driveways.
- Lastly, when you stay in a vacation rental, the owner is allowed to give you, the guest, a review that other hosts can see. Who wants to go on vacation and worry about what the owner of the place thinks of you?
Hotels vs. Vacation Rentals: how do you choose?
So, how do you choose which is better for your family: a hotel or a vacation rental? The answer will be different for each family.
To help you decide which is best for you, think about your priorities. Look through these lists of the pros and cons of each one. What factors are most important? What does your family need from your lodging during your trips?
Don’t worry about what other people do. Compare the options and pick the one that works best for your family.
Personally, while we have stayed in both, I prefer hotels. I find that they are a better fit for my family. Plus, the last thing I want to do during our vacations is worry about cooking and cleaning.
The hotels vs. vacation rentals debate is one of the biggest debates in the travel industry. It is also one that stumps a lot of families. I hope this article helps you to determine which option is best for your family!
For more help making your next family vacation better than ever, see how to plan an epic vacation, how to take amazing vacations on any budget, my ultimate guide to travel with kids, and tips to improve your vacations.
P.S. Need help finding the best places to go on your family vacations? My Ultimate USA Bucket List for Families will instantly give you 60 of the best vacation destinations for families in the United States! Get it for FREE in the box below and start planning your next trip today! Plus, as a bonus, you will receive my weekly email newsletter full of family trip tips and inspiration!
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