From couchsurfing.com to airbnb.com, room and house rentals have become the latest trend among seasoned travelers and are now gaining traction as a viable alternative to hotels. If you’ve never used a service like this, there are some things you should know before you take refuge in someone’s humble abode. Below are six things you should consider and whether hotels or rentals dominate that category.
1. Convenience: Hotel
Having someone at a Front Desk at all times is invaluable. If there are problems with your rental (which there tend to be, just as there are with hotel rooms) you chance whether or not the owner will answer his email or phone call before your stay is up. Plus, should you need anything additional like towels or soap, the front desk has that covered.
2. Location : Tie
Hotels and rental properties can be found in just about any part of a city, so neither has any leverage over the other. If you want to stay away from the constant movement of hotel guests, using a rental that is away from the hotel-infested areas is probably your best bet and often provides for a little more privacy than a hotel.
3. Last-Minute Availability: House Rental
Last year, I decided I wanted to go to Dallas for OU/Texas (one of the largest events in the city each year) in the 11th hour. Hotels are sold out months in advance. Even when hotels in a city are completed booked, there are often available rental properties since a lot of people still don’t think to check for them and property owners often don’t decide to list their rentals far in advance. We found an awesome apartment with a rooftop pool in the heart of downtown days before the game, not to mention it was 40% cheaper than a comparable hotel in the same area.
4. Cleanliness and Comfort: Hotel
Many rentals rely on maids that must be arranged each time they are needed to get into the rental. If there is any difficulty getting into the unit, the maids will simply move on. This was the case with my last experience. The maid never came and I had to spend two days in the previous renter’s filth. Seasoned owners are more likely to have the system down and ensure cleanliness for guests, but it’s never a guarantee you’ll even be able to get in touch with them.
5. Amenities: Hotel
Hotels typically have more standardized amenities. Since each unit of a rental is fitted to the individual owner’s needs, cable, blow dryers, coffee makers and so on vary extensively by unit. The only thing that each unit seems to have had in my experience is Wi-Fi – no shock there. Some rentals may have more unique amenities than hotels though, my friend stayed in an apartment in Chicago with a driving range on the roof free for all tenant’s use.
6. Price: House Rental
This is often the big selling point for rentals. The owner sets the price and the smart ones will keep a busy schedule by setting their prices a little lower than competitors. Rentals can also be much more cost efficient for groups since renting a 2 bedroom apartment is commonly less expensive than renting two separate hotel rooms. If you spend the time, you can typically find a good unit for cheaper than the hotel across the street.
So what’s important to you? For me, I value cleanliness and convenience, so hotels are my preferred choice. But to each their own!