Travel Hacking: book with Airbnb or a hotel?
More and more often, when looking for accommodation in a city, I compare the different choices offered:
- By paying for a hotel room through a website like Booking, Expedia, or Hotels.com
- Using my points at a hotel group like Best Western or Marriott
- Or by looking for an accommodation with a private individual on Airbnb
After several experiences booking with Airbnb, here are the pros and cons ofAirbnb compared to a hotel. And a few tips along the way.
The advantages of Airbnb over a hotel
Airbnb has several important assets:
The amount of housing available
You can look in any city: there will be a considerable number of accommodations available, in every street, every neighborhood on Airbnb. Hotels are often grouped in certain areas.
The different types of accommodation available
You are alone and can be satisfied with an available room in the private home? Or on the contrary, you are a group of friends and would like an apartment with several rooms?
Airbnb will surely have something for you with the many types of available accommodations that you can find through the options provided by the site.
Filters Options with Airbnb
The price for certain housing
Working in particular with the system of reviews left by Internet users like you, Airbnb often makes it possible to obtain very interesting prices on many accommodations.
In fact, it is the owner who can decide topost his apartment at a discount. This means that he is starting out on the platform and wants to collect reviews, which he hopes will be positive.
Once these scores have been obtained, the owner can gradually increase the price of his home to find the right rate to meet the demand.
Take the case of this apartment for 4 people that looks quite cute in West Village in New-York for only 175 CA$ per night.
However, if you decide to go for a “good deal”, don’t be afraid of getting a “lemon”! Personally, I prefer to make sure I book an apartment that has at least 5 positive reviews.
Meeting someone “in the area
This is undoubtedly a strength of Airbnb… when the owners are present. Generally, these locals will be able to help you in your discovery of the city. Thus, they will show you the best bars, restaurants and places to experience the city like a local.
However, with the “marketing” of some apartments, you may never meet the owner. The latter will have provided you with an access code, for example. This is what happened to me in Seoul, for example, while leaving many guidebooks available in the apartment.
Airbnb is recognized as a travel provider by many credit cards
Just because you rent an apartment doesn’t mean you’re completely out of the loyalty programs!
In fact, many credit cards allow you to apply points to travel expenses… like Airbnb!
This is the case for the Scotia Rewards program with the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card.
Or the American Express Membership Rewards program with a card like the Carte Cobaltᵐᶜ American Express.
Here, to offset the $454.41 Airbnb expense, I would need to use 45,441 American Express Membership Rewards points offered by the Carte Cobaltᵐᶜ American Express.
Find out on this page why the American Express Cobaltcard is the travel hacker’s favorite credit card !
The disadvantages of Airbnb compared to a hotel
However, booking with Airbnb can be more complicated than with a hotel.
Complicated cancellation rules
If you are forced to cancel your stay, the reservation fee is not refundable. Sometimes even strict cancellation conditions are imposed by the owner and you can lose up to the entire price of your stay.
You will rarely find this kind of conditions if you book with a hotel (except for non refundable rates). Generally, you often have more leeway with a hotel… especially a hotel chain like Marriott Bonvoy.
For example, when using Marriott Bonvoy points, you get the same rate rules as the most flexible rate. You can cancel your room up to 48 hours before your arrival.
To learn about Airbnb’s cancellation policy, check the Airbnb Help Center page.
Arrival according to the owner’s wishes
Is your plane late? Would you like to arrive later or in the night at your apartment? Or would you like to take possession of the premises earlier? Good luck! Unless you have access to the apartment at all hours thanks to an access code or a verythroughhost, you will find it difficult to have arrival times as flexible as a hotel.
In fact, you can usually arrive at any time of the day or night in a hotel with a 24-hour reception. In addition, you may even be able to take advantage of an early arrival or late departure (especially if you have a membership status such as the American Express Platinum Card).
The payment is immediate
When you book on Airbnb, you pay for your rental immediately. Whereas for a hotel, this payment is deferred to a few days before your arrival, or even when you leave your room.
It can be inconvenient to have to advance money for a trip that will not take place for several months.
No cleaning service
Unlike your hotel room, which will be tidy and clean every night when you return, your Airbnb apartment will be in the same condition as you left it in the morning. It’s not necessarily a vacation when you have to clean your house, even though you already do it every day. Well, that’s just my opinion :)!
Airbnb has no real loyalty program
As a points and miles fan, this is a big disadvantage for me. All the hotels I go to, like Marriott Bonvoy or Best Western Rewards, reward me for my “loyalty” by giving me points that I can use for future stays.
In Canada, there are 2 loyalty programs offering credit cards:
- Marriott Bonvoy through the Carte Marriott BonvoyMC American ExpressMD or its small business version the Marriott BonvoyMD Corporate American ExpressMD Card.
- Best Western Rewards through the Best Western Rewards MasterCard
And on these two pages, you will find a presentation of the two cards:
- The best credit card for free nights: the Marriott Bonvoy American Expresscard !
- Introducing the Best Western Rewards Mastercard credit card card
Airbnb Gift Card
As of November 2021, Airbnb offers card . They are sold mainly in Metro and Super C grocery stores, as well as at Walmart.
As you can see, not everything is perfect in the Airbnb system. You should compare with a hotel room according to your needs. However, it is a great way to save money in some cities… while having some disadvantages that will be restrictive for some travelers.
If you are not registered with Airbnb, here is a link through which you will get $45 off your first reservation.