Should you get a rental or a hotel for your next vacation?
When you are going on vacation, there is no shortage of places you can stay. AirBNB, VBRO, and countless others in the sharing economy have changed the way we travel. For a while as the new kid on the block, these house and apartment rentals ( or couch rental) were all the rage. But as the shiny new glow fades a bit, there is more to consider on where to stay for your next vacation. Are rentals THE way to go for your next trip? Maybe. Maybe not.
As expert travel agents, we often recommend hotels over rentals in certain destinations. Why? Let’s talk.
Built-in Hotel Help
The right hotels provide built-in support for a traveler. A front desk means there’s someone who can answer a question or help you make a phone call if you don’t speak the language. Even better, a concierge means you have someone who can tell you the best restaurant for a regional specialty or which local store you need to explore. A great bartender can make you a specialty cocktail with local ingredients that lights up your Instagram and evening. These people are included in the cost of a hotel and that is a giant value worthy of paying more per night. This makes hotels far more than “just a place to sleep”.
Rentals often provide very little in the way of support for a traveler. Even those rentals that have some kind of access to a local resident are dealing with someone who deals with relatively few travelers. There is an art to hospitality and helping others enjoy a destination. Each traveler is different and may need different things. It’s more than recommending something you personally like, it’s recommending what someone else would like. And that takes talent and experience. At the best hotels, the staff are continually trained to be able to help different kinds of people have a great vacation. A local homeowner is not. Owning a home does not make you a travel hospitality expert just like owning a plunger does not make you a plumber.
Service and Experience
Great hotels take care of their travelers. They have extra supplies on hand if a traveler forgot something. They carry your bags when you are tired from flying overnight. They run or know of late-night stores and food to accommodate someone getting in at midnight. They can hold your luggage early or late on your arrival or departure days so you can explore without 50 lbs. of bags. They can call you a cab or arrange a private car. They help you get medical or police attention if you have an emergency. They clean your room and maybe even leave chocolate. These things all add up to a total experience. They impact how you feel on vacation and whether or not you get to actually rest.
Rentals vary a great deal in what they provide, but by in large they leave travelers on their own. This means you spend more time on your vacation dealing with practical logistics. In our opinion, one of the worst ways to start a vacation is needing to go buy toilet paper. And one of the worst ways to end a vacation is cleaning someone else’s house and taking out the trash as part of a rental check-out. These take time from your trip and can distract you from connecting to people and places. That has a very real emotional cost.
Standard and Expectations
Hotels have to meet standards for a variety of things. They are responsible for security. They have to meet local fire codes. They must undergo inspections and approvals in keeping with local building codes.
Rentals are not subject to the same kind of laws, inspections, and codes that hotels are. This relatively new housing industry has many popular destinations scrambling to pass laws to regulate conditions to keep people safe. When were the smoke detector batteries last changed at your rental? Or are there detectors at all? At a hotel, the fire system must meet local regulations. While some rentals may be great, the problem is that they vary greatly from one to another and you may not have a way to know.
Location, Location, Location
In many cities, residential districts (and often, therefore, rentals) are located outside of major historical areas or city centers. These same historical centers often have hotels that were built as part of the original structures that are incredibly close to the museums, buildings, and experiences that most travelers are wanting to visit. When you stay far away from the major attractions of a city in order to rent someone’s apartment or home, you can spend a lot of time in transit instead of getting to see or do more in a city. The right location can be crucial in making the most of your time and energy (traveling can be tiring!). At the end of a long day of walking and exploring, convenience is worth its weight in gold.
Hotels can be part of the connection experience to a destination. They can make the transition between home and holiday an easy one. They are part of the destination in a unique way. But most of all, they include the help and hospitality of the hotel staff. They are more than a space to stay. They are a haven of help in an unfamiliar place. When we recommend hotels over rentals, this is why.