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Hotel or Vacation Rental?
When you travel, there are several approaches to lodging. You can stay at a hostel, a resort, an inn or a bed and breakfast. But most lodging can be broadly classified as either a hotel, where you get a room in a larger facility, or a vacation rental, where you rent from a private individual. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. But in all of them, you rent a room or a suite in a larger facility. Your space might include a kitchen or sitting area. The advantages of hotels include:
The disadvantages include:
- You have housekeeping services, so your room will be clean when you arrive and you don’t have to clean it before you go.
- You often have amenities such as on-site parking, wi-fi, fitness facilities, business facilities, restaurants, etc.
- Especially if you choose a chain hotel, you can be pretty confident that you know what you are getting. And if you often stay at the same chain, you can become a preferred guest and accrue points toward a free room or other perks.
- If you are in a tourist area or an unfamiliar city, hotel staff can help you with taxis, information on sites, etc.
- There is a similarity to many hotels, so you might not get a sense of the character of your destination.
- Most of the time you must eat your meals out, which can add to your expense.
- If you are traveling with a group, you will not have space to gather.
With a vacation rental, you stay in a privately owned space. You can rent a room or a whole house. The advantages of vacation rentals include:
The disadvantages include:
- Because you are staying in a home, you can get a better sense of the place. And many vacation rentals are in scenic locations, such as in the mountains, in the forest or on the beach.
- If you are traveling with a group, you have space to spread out. Couples and children can have their own rooms, and there are public spaces where everyone can get together.
- You have a kitchen, which means you can cook your own meals. This can save you a lot, even if you only cook a meal or two a day.
- Owners often allow you to borrow things like bikes, kayaks, fishing gear, etc. And most are very willing to offer suggestions about things to do and see.
- If you spread the cost among several people, you can end up spending significantly less. You also might get a free night if you are there for a week or so.
- You have to do your homework. You can find vacation rentals on Airbnb and sites like Homeaway.com, but it is up to you to sort through the options, read the reviews, contact the owners, etc.
- If a problem arises while you are there, your options are only as good as the owner. Some owners are very responsive, but others might not be. It’s not like you can call down to the front desk.
- You usually have to do at least minimal cleaning before you leave. You might have to start the dishwasher, put in a load of laundry, make sure things are returned to their proper place, etc.