Hotel vs. Vacation Rental

If you’re going to be traveling, you might be asking yourself whether you should stay at a hotel or a vacation rental. Today’s post explores the pros and cons of both to help you make the decision that best suits your needs.



Hotels have long been the standard choice for travelers everywhere. There is a hotel for every budget and every kind of traveler.


  • Hotels are generally very easy to book.
  • In general, hotels are pretty standard, so you always know what you’re getting.
  • They often have amenities like a fitness center, pool, restaurant, bar, etc.
  • Often times they have services like maid service, room service, and even laundry service that you can take advantage of.
  • There is usually decent internet access and cable TV.
  • Parking is generally not an issue. Hotels want options for their guests to park (although they do sometimes charge for it).


  • They usually don’t have a kitchen, so you have to eat out.
  • I’ve found them to be generally more expensive than vacation rentals.
  • The rooms are often much smaller for the price than you would get with a vacation rental.
  • Sometimes there can be hidden fees (internet charge, valet charge, pay for movies, etc.)

Vacation Rentals

While sites like Airbnb and have brought a lot more attention to these in recent years, vacation rentals have actually been around for a long time.


  • With online booking sites like Airbnb and, booking a vacation rental is easier than ever.
  • You can stay in some really unique places rather than just a generic hotel room.
  • It feels more like you’re at home and living like a local.
  • It’s easy to find a place that has a kitchen, and cooking your own meals can save you a lot of money.
  • You can find better deals on vacation rentals than hotels, in general.
  • You can often get a local’s recommendation on what is unique about their area from your hosts.
  • Often times, vacation rentals can include a washer and dryer, enabling you to do your own laundry and pack less (but check first because they don’t all have this).
  • Generally, there are no hidden fees with a vacation rental.
  • Often times, little extras can be included with the vacation rental. I’ve received welcome baskets with snacks, the free use of bicycles and beach chairs, books to read, and even a telescope to stargaze with in a vacation rental.


  • It’s a bit more work to book a vacation rental than a hotel. You have to coordinate with your hosts, and they may be booked or otherwise unavailable during your travel dates.
  • The rules of the house can vary wildly from vacation rental to vacation rental, so you need to make sure you agree to all the terms (i.e. policy on bringing guests, pets, and even check in procedures)
  • Often times they don’t have the amenities a hotel has, such as breakfast, pool, fitness center.
  • There isn’t always parking available. Make sure to double check on this before you book if you’ll have a car!

The Verdict

Personally, I’m a fan of vacation rentals. I enjoy looking at properties on Airbnb and have all kinds of wishlists worked out for future places I would like to stay, even local places I would like to stay for a weekend just because they look like a fun and interesting place to be. It really boils down to what you’re looking for in a vacation, however. I find that people who really like just relaxing on a trip might be better with a hotel because of the resort-like amenities, but for people like me who just want a home base from which to explore and a unique experience, vacation rentals are really great.


What do you think? Are you a vacation rental person or a hotel person?


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