You’ve picked your destination. Booked your flight. Now the big question: where to stay? If you’re going solo, I humbly suggest hotels are better than Airbnb.
For me, a great hotel is a big part of the joy of travel. I would choose them even if short-term rental companies weren’t constantly in the news for making the world worse – like contributing to the rental housing crisis in my city and so many others or even paying millions to cover up violent crimes like rapes on their properties.
Yes, I do understand the many reasonable reasons others choose to stay in them — families who want separated bedrooms; those with food allergies who need kitchens to prepare their own meals safely; anyone looking to stay in a neighbourhood or town with no or low hotel options, or wanting a furnished pad for a longer stay. I get it.
Plus, let’s be honest. Hotel chains haven’t done themselves any favours by ignoring the needs of non-business travellers in the 21st century. (Stop. Charging. Extra. For. Wifi.)
10 Reasons to Choose Hotels over Airbnbs
That said, I can still think of so many reasons hotels are better than Airbnb for my solo travels. Here are ten of them.
You can cancel and get a full refund
Life happens. You get sick and have to cancel a whole trip. Or you get a bonus windfall and can now afford a fancier accommodation than you planned. You fall in love with a town and decide not to move on to the next one on your itinerary. You fall in love with a person on your travels and decide you don’t need your own room anymore!
Most hotels allow you to cancel right up until the day of your stay, with a full refund. (Or give you a good discount for taking the risk of a non-refundable room.) You’re not penalized for finding a better deal, or changing your mind.
Even if I’ve rarely needed this option, knowing that I can cancel my hotel at the last minute and not lose money is often the security I need to book a trip in the first place. For maximum flexibility, for sure hotels are better than Airbnb.
It’s easier to check-in
I can always spot a traveller trying to get into their Airbnb on the streets of Toronto. They have that look on their face, cell phone to their ears, loudly explaining how they can’t find the lock box, or the key doesn’t work or the person is late letting them in. When I get off a plane or a train, I’m tired. I don’t want to spend a minute longer than necessary to get into my room. Hotels have staffed counters or contactless check-in 24/7. Where you can also leave your luggage after check out if you want to spend more time at your destination before your transportation out.
The Front Desk will lend you stuff
Forgot your phone charger? International power adapter? Most hotel front desks can sort you out with a loaner of common travel items. This saves time and money. Unless you actually enjoy overpaying at the airport shops or racing around local convenience stores for a replacement.
Also: never pack a crappy travel umbrella again, just in case it rains. Save space in your luggage and borrow a high-quality umbrella from your hotel instead. It’s free and always looks chic. Nobody on the streets of Manhattan needed to know I travelled to NYC by $10 overnight Megabus to be able to afford a stay at 5-star hotel, they just saw my fancy branded Four Seasons umbrella.
Two words: Hotel pillows
Have you ever found a pillow as comfortable as a really nice hotel’s pillows? I have not. Like death and taxes, it’s something you can count on. Some places even have pillow “menus” with options. That’s why at the height of pandemic lockdowns when I was really missing hotels, I splurged and ordered my own hotel pillows for home. They are exquisite. I’m afraid there’s no going back….
Housekeeping, not Chores
When I’m on holiday I’d rather not have to clean up after myself. Sure, if I’m living in your house for a week I’m going to sweep up and do my own dishes. But some Airbnb hosts expect or require you to do chores. Why would I strip the beds and do laundry before I leave when I’m already paying you a separate cleaning fee? I’m choosing a hotel with daily housekeeping and infinite fresh towels every time. (And always bring cash to leave tips for the cleaners.)
Hotels often have lovely outdoor pools that are the make-or-break factor of me enjoying trips where it’s hot. I will forever send blessings to the night staff at the Holiday Inn Express in Rancho Mirage who opened their pool after hours so we could soak away a 100 degree-Coachella day under the stars. And I’ll never forget my first view of the Florence duomo from the rooftop pool at Plaza Hotel Lucchesi. Even the tiny unheated pools at 2-star motels in Mexico make me so happy.
Anonymity and Privacy
I love talking about my travels. And I love recommending places to stay when I get home. But I don’t want to be obligated to make all my accommodation choices public. And while there’s no requirement to leave a review on the public website of a short-term rental, it is expected if you want a good rating. With hotels, I’m not dependent on one person’s opinion of me (or of my opinion of them) to ensure that I can rent a room in the future.
And don’t get me started on the alarming number of Airbnb hosts caught putting secret surveillance cameras on their guests’ bedrooms and bathrooms.
As a solo woman traveller, I find hotel bars incredibly convenient. In fact, a cool looking bar or lobby lounge is often the reason I’ll pick one hotel over another. No need to spend extra money on taxis just to socialize at night, or worry if it’s safe to walk back late. And if I hit a wall and am realize I’m suddenly tired, I can roll up to my room in minutes.
Staff can help translate for you
When in Rome … I found myself unable to navigate the phone system for my Covid test results that was only in Italian. Google translate was not going to help me out of this jam and I was pretty stressed out. After being hung up on several times trying to get an English or French speaking agent, I turned to the desk staff at Hotel Ponte Sisto – who very patiently called on my behalf and got me sorted. Not every website you’ll need while travelling is in English. Ride sharing apps don’t operate everywhere. Sometimes you just need a local to make a phone call for you. Hotel staff are there to help.
Breakfast in Bed
As a single person, having someone make me breakfast and bring it to me while I’m still in my pyjamas is an absolute treat. I don’t always order room service when I travel because it’s not cheap, but recommend splurging on a $12 oatmeal on a tray once in a while. (I’m also a fan of the quick breakfast buffets included at most budget hotels too.)
These are just the top 10 reasons hotels are better than airbnb for my travels. What about you? If you love hotels like I do, let me know your favourite reasons why in the comments below.