Hotel vs. Airbnb

We’ve vacationed in the summer for six years in this cottage a few blocks from the beach near Santa Barbara. I can’t wait for our time there this summer!

When we get away, we like to stay in VRBOs or Airbnbs — most of the time.

Since the time my son was one year’s old, we rented a house in Laguna Beach in the summer with another family from our hot desert. We rented directly from the homeowners (pre-VRBO era). The owners were school teachers who left for Alaska once the school year was over. We’d split the summer in two and overlap with the other family for a fun weekend.

My husband would commute back and forth for long beach weekends, while I’d stay with the kids the entire time. Not a bad deal, but with toddlers I remember I was tired. Still, much better than being in the desert with temperatures 100 to 126 degrees!

At Christmas the past two years, we’ve rented a house for a week — big enough for our Christmas Crew that varies from 10 to 14 people. We love being together under one roof and cooking Christmas Eve and Christmas Day feasts.

For the past 10 years, since my son was in college at UC Santa Barbara, we traded Laguna Beach for Santa Barbara. We stay at least a week and sometimes almost a month. My husband works remotely, so he sets up shop there.

When don’t we stay in Airbnb’s or VRBOs?

When we are going away for a quick trip, like a weekend, we stay in hotels. First of all, there are usually cleaning deposits and other charges that make a VRBO expensive for two nights. If you’re staying for a week or more, it can be more affordable to rent a house or condo and cook most meals.

When our kids were swimmers, we’d stay in hotels. We’d have to get to the pool early for warm-ups, get back to the hotel so they could rest between prelims and finals. The hectic schedule made the hotel much easier. I didn’t have to prepare meals, grocery shop or do dishes. I could order from the hotel restaurant or drive for takeout.

What’s your preference? Hotels or VRBOs and WHY?

36 thoughts on “Hotel vs. Airbnb

  1. Hotels. No $$ surprises, maid service, clean linen/towels everyday, breakfast prepared and included, super clean pool, on site security….well, you get the picture.

  2. I love the snapshot of your holiday experiences –with everyone under one roof in a picturesque place. And the pic of the cottage? Wowza…it’s adorable. Inviting! As for preferences between accommodations, I see good and bad with each…but I do like having the ability to spread out more in a home and having a kitchen…even if it’s just for making snacks and having a full fridge. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • A fridge and kitchen is a must. We love this cottage. It has ocean views upstairs and a brick patio with a bbq and views! Itโ€™s three blocks from the park and beach – but thereโ€™s a steep hill in between!

      • The color scheme — that beautiful aqua and yellow combo – says ‘c’mon in’…and the landscaping is so lush…I just want to curl up near it and have a nap. Sounds like it’s in a terrific location, too! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

      • Behind the front door is the bedroom! Upstairs is the bathroom, kitchen and living room. It fits the two of us perfectly. When the kids visit thereโ€™s a pullout sofa and a bed partitioned off in a corner of the living room. They continue the color scheme inside too!

      • I love it — it sounds like it’s a ‘just right’ size and I’m a sucker for continuing a color scheme…makes me happy. Love, love, love. I’m gonna travel vicariously with you! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

  3. We have so many kids that, even when they were young, weโ€™d have to get two or three hotel rooms when we went out of town. We didnโ€™t do it often because it was costly. Now that they are adults and have spouses and kids, a VRBO is way cheaper for our family vacations. For just my hubby and I, we prefer hotels. We donโ€™t need lots of space, and not being able to cook is a nice break.

    • We have two kids so when they were young we could fit into one room. That would be expensive to have several rooms! For us, itโ€™s length of stay that determines if itโ€™s a hotel or Airbnb.

  4. VRBO’s -I must red the NY Post too often of horror stories. I would prefer staying at a hotel even living long term in a hotel apt. like I did in Abu Dhabi. Safe and centrally located with many lines of security and accessibility.

    • When we’re in Santa Barbara and hotels start at $400 up and I can get the entire cottage for less then $200 — and we’re staying for a few weeks, I prefer the house. I do get your point about hotels though. Our kids wanted us to keep our Palm Springs house as a VRBO. The new owners did just that with it and it has its own instagram page. I think that would be a nightmare to run a VRBO.

      • I agree. Our area has improved substantially and now is a hot spot. Years ago, 2010 when the economy was not great, the husband thought of doing a rental with our home and coming with me for the year. In the end, he did not as we heard lots of horror stories. We made the right decision as we probably would have lost the house. That is expensive! Wow.

      • I’m sure you’re relieved you didn’t rent your home! I think you can find less expensive in the Santa Barbara area, but a Best Western is $300 a night in a nearby town. I think it’s the time of year, too. Summer is popular.

  5. Hotels 100%. I want the full service when Iโ€™m away. I spend most of the year picking things up and wiping things down โ€ฆ.I donโ€™t want to do that on vacation.

  6. I choose mostly by how long the stay is, much like you EA. Plus when I’m paying I don’t really need the fancy hotel experience. Now if I don’t have to foot the bill I’ll take as much luxury as I can get ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Length of stay is a big factor. True on who foots the bill! My niece had a wedding in Maui at a gorgeous resort and my brother picked up the tab. I don’t think we’d have stayed their on our own.

  7. You make such a good point about the fees with AirBnB for shorter stays and pools for kids in hotels. Now that I’m traveling with kids – I find AirBnB’s better because we aren’t all in one room with me trying to not disturb their sleep. Either way, vacationing with young children without another adult? Exhausting!

  8. With the entire family Larry and I always rent a house, there’s twelve of us in the immediate family so being able to cook a few meals is ideal. When it’s just Larry and I we prefer the hotels with the services and dining out. Your cottage by the beach is adorable. What a fun tradition. I think if we were staying anywhere for a long stretch of time we would defiantly consider renting a house. There really are so many options, but I’ll say this, my camping days are over. Hugs, C

    • My son’s girlfriend is the oldest of seven, and we have them all for Christmas along with spouses and parents! So a house, a big house works for us. I still love camping, but my husband isn’t a fan so much anymore. Maybe we’ll figure out a few more camping trips in our future.

  9. For the most part in my life I’ve only stayed in hotels or bed & breakfast inns, not AirBnbs or VRBOs. Or at least when we pick where we’re going to stay it is a hotel or B&B. When traveling with other people sometimes they book us elsewhere.

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