Why I Prefer Staying in Airbnb Over Hotels

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Since I turned 18, I’ve been staying at Airbnbs on 80% of my trips. Here are reasons I prefer Airbnbs over hotels or hostels, and the reason I don’t stay at Airbnbs 100% of the time:

Private rooms or apartments 
Some people, especially youth, love the social aspect of staying in hostels. Sure, it’s nice to get to know other travelers or meet people from your home country when abroad. As an ambivert, too much socializing drains me. I’ll sleepover with my friends occasionally, but sleeping in the same room as a stranger, especially many of them, is extremely discomforting to me. When traveling with my boyfriend, we rent private rooms or even apartments and split the cost – usually, it’s not much higher than the cost of staying in a hostel. 

Airbnb Amman
My Airbnb in Amman, Jordan.

Airbnb offers the best value 
Talking about price, Airbnbs are also far less expensive than hotels. As someone who doesn’t care about hotel facilities such as gyms, spas etc, I’d much rather have a clean room with comparable comfort for a third of the price. In most developing countries, a high-quality Airbnb costs between $30 – $60 per night, while a hotel will likely be $100+. Even in major cities around Europe and the US, a nice Airbnb retails for less than $100.

Staying with locals, not tourists 
When I travel, I don’t go to hang out with a bunch of Americans or Swedes. Staying at Airbnbs, I’m almost always interacting with locals and learning about their lives in ways that would be impossible if I was propped up in some 5-star thousand-room hotel run by a westerner. The hosts usually take time to teach me about the local area, some history and their lives in X city. It’s fascinating to get first-hand advice from whomever I’m living with, and I find that they usually want the best of me.

Airbnb in Amman
Having a kitchen is a huge Airbnb perk!

When I avoid Airbnb

Booking last-minute 
Since no two Airbnbs are alike, the nicest alternatives are usually booked months in advance. If I suddenly need to overnight somewhere with just a few days notice, I’ll usually check Airbnbs, but more often than not, hotels are nicer than the remaining options.

In dangerous cities 
Some countries are not the most tourist-friendly, even though they have tons of fascinating sights to offer. Sometimes, you also don’t know how safe Airbnbs are without being familiar with local neighborhoods, or there’s a risk the host will scam you. On trips to Guatemala, Egypt and Jordan (apart from Amman), I went for large hotels instead.

When there are no good alternatives 
My first time in Hong Kong ended up being an expensive nightmare since I hadn’t checked Airbnb availability beforehand. As it turns out, Hong Kong is one of the worst major cities for Airbnb in the world. There are few quality accommodations from local hosts, and most are in the upper range of what I’m willing to pay. I ended up having to stay at hotels all 10 nights I was there, which ended up costing way too much. If I have to go somewhere and the Airbnb options look sketchy, are too expensive or the good options are sold-out, I tend to choose hotels instead.

Tips for a smooth Airbnb experience 

Communication clearly in advance
If you know them, send your host your arrival time and flight details at the time of booking. In most cases, you’ll want to start communicating with them at least 30 hours before your arrival. Tell them where you’re coming from and when you’ll arrive. If you’re flying to your destination and won’t have internet access, make sure they send you detailed instructions on how to get from the airport to your Airbnb, with an approximate price so you don’t get ripped off. You’ll also want to make sure they send check-in instructions at this time as well so that you know the procedure with or without a cellular connection.

Airbnb in Amman
Make sure the hosts know how many guests are coming so they can add an extra bed is necessary.

Screenshot the host’s phone number and address, preferably on a map
Most locals know where the big hotels are, but Airbnbs are much harder to find. Firstly, it’s always good to have the hosts phone number handy. If you can’t find the property, your taxi driver or a local can call them and get directions. The address is good to have for several reasons; firstly, most immigration cards require your local address; secondly, you’ll need to give it to whoever is navigating to your Airbnb; thirdly, taking a screenshot of the location on a map, or creating a pin, will help you and your driver find it more easily.

Know what to expect 
Over time, I’ve learned to have a look at the listing photos right before I start my trip so that I know what to expect. If you know what it looks like, you’re less likely to be caught off guard when you arrive.

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