Is Airbnb still the most affordable choice when booking your next trip?

When planning a trip, it’s likely that you want to weigh up your options before you book anything. You may spend time searching for the most convenient flight times, for example, or finding a well-located hotel with all the best amenities.

According to the Independent, the average Brit spends 10 hours researching their holiday, and around 20% of those surveyed checked more than 11 different options before booking.

People likely spend much of that time searching for the best flight deals. Yet deciding where to stay is probably more important, and the wrong decision could put a dampener on your trip.

As such, you may want to consider as many options as possible so you can find somewhere that is well-located, clean, and has all the right amenities. And, naturally, price is likely to be a factor when comparing your choices.

In recent years, holiday let websites such as Airbnb have become incredibly popular because they offer greater flexibility and, when they first launched, the prices were very low.

However, that may not be the case anymore. Recent studies show that Airbnb prices are not necessarily as low as they used to be and, in many cases, hotels could offer better value.

Read on to learn more about whether Airbnb’s are still cheaper than hotels, and how you can find the best accommodation for your next trip.

Hotels are cheaper than Airbnb’s in 24 out of 30 cities

The idea for Airbnb came to Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky in 2007, when they were struggling to pay the rent on their San Francisco apartment.

They had heard that there was a big conference in the city and all the hotels were filling up, so they decided to offer an alternative for travellers. They turned their apartment into a bed and breakfast for the week, so they could make some extra cash and pay their rent.

The two friends set up a few air mattresses – hence the name Airbnb – and charged $80 a night for people to stay on them. After realising they were onto something, they established Airbnb as a company and built a website.

At its inception, it was a platform where people could rent out their own homes and guests could find a cheaper alternative to a hotel.

It quickly grew beyond air mattresses on the floor and soon you could rent anything from a basic one-bedroom flat to a luxury mansion or even an entire island. Most importantly, it established a reputation as the cheap option for travellers.

But now, more than 15 years later, a new study by Which? has found that may no longer be the case.

The study compared the prices of Airbnb’s and hotels in 30 cities around the world and found that hotels are cheaper in 24 out of 30 cities, often by a considerable amount.

Indeed, the cost of a one-bedroom holiday let from sites like Airbnb or Vrbo is, on average, £67 higher than hotel rooms.

The biggest difference in price is in Amsterdam, where hotels are £67 cheaper. In other cities, such as Belfast, the price difference is less pronounced as hotels are only £5 cheaper.

That said, certain countries, including France and Sicily, go against this trend and holiday lets tend to be cheaper than hotels. However, these places are the exception to the rule.

The research also found that there was a big disparity in the quality of the accommodation available. In New York, for instance, a budget of £156 a night would get you a large room in a four-star hotel with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a king-size bed.

In comparison, a similarly priced Airbnb is far more basic, with lukewarm reviews. You also don’t have the same additional services such as breakfast, for example, when you stay in an Airbnb.

It is also important to note that many short-term lets in New York are illegal under new legislation. Other countries such as Scotland plan to introduce similar laws to restrict Airbnb use. As such, you risk paying for an illegitimate holiday let through sites like Airbnb.

So, while Airbnb could be a good option in certain cities, you will often get more for your money if you opt for a hotel instead.

Tips for finding the best accommodation when booking your next trip

Consider your priorities

Cost is not the only thing to consider when comparing accommodation as hotels and Airbnb both offer a different type of stay. You will likely have access to a kitchen area, for example, when staying in an apartment.

For some people, this is a benefit as they prefer to cook their own food while away. However, you might prefer a hotel that provides food instead.

Think about what your priorities are in your accommodation before booking and consider whether a hotel or a holiday let is most suitable for the type of trip you want.

Always think about the location

Location is one of the most important things to consider when looking for somewhere to stay and the cheapest accommodation is often in the least convenient locations.

Staying in these places could mean that you spend more on travelling and your experience is not as good. That’s why you should always research the location thoroughly and check the proximity to the places you want to visit.

You may find that you need to strike a balance between price and location, instead of simply choosing the cheapest option.

Use comparison sites

Comparison sites do a lot of the work for you when comparing accommodation, and you often find the best prices there too. They each have their own pricing, so it’s best to check all the major ones, including:

  • Skyscanner
  • Kayak
  • TripAdvisor
  • Trivago
  • Travel Supermarket.

When you find something you like, it may be worth checking how much it costs to book directly through the hotel website to ensure you get the best price.

Check lots of reviews

Before you book anything, it may be a good idea to check some reviews of the accommodation because they give you a great insight into the service you can expect if you stay there.

You can find out about cleanliness, amenities, customer service, food, and cancellation policies, for example.

Make sure to read plenty of reviews and don’t just look at the most recent ones. Check back a few months, or even years, to see whether the service is consistently good.

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Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.