Websites like AirBnB and their competitors are making huge waves in the travel industry for the idea that you don’t have to stay in a hotel or resort on your holiday. These online marketplaces offer anyone – even you – the opportunity to hire out a room in your house, or an entire property – to vacationers who make a booking via the 3rd party website.

Personally, I’m not a fan of these private apartments because I’ve heard so many disappointing stories, but there are certainly pros and cons, and to be fair, I’ve also seen some incredible places. How to decide whether to go with one Sunshine’s cheap hotels or an apartment (which we also have deals for)? Here are some pros and cons.

This is a private AirB&B apartment.

The Pros of Private Apartments

Private apartments do have their advantages – perhaps the biggest advantage being that they often have more character. That’s not to say all hotels are soul-less, but you won’t find a quirky community garden like the one pictured above in your average hotel.  Some other advantages to a private apartment:

  • More Private – usually. You can find a great apartment that gives you a bit more breathing room than in your hotel. But make sure you’re renting the apartment – as a room or a wing off of someone’s house isn’t all that private.
  • Great for long term stays. If you plan on spending more than a week in a destination, apartments usually can be cheaper and also more comfortable, especially if you have a fully functional kitchen, or perhaps even laundry and other facilities.

The Cons of Private Apartments

Perhaps the biggest negative to private apartments are their variability! I’ve seen magnificent apartments with bathtubs that can fit three, and I’ve seen ones for the same price that include cockroaches and cobwebs as a free gift with purchase. You are also dealing with individuals, not trained hotel staff,  so the amount of travel help you receive can be variable as well. While the sites that broker these apartments offer ratings and other tools to help you sift through the junk, you still have to do a lot of sifting – more-so than searching for hotels, I think. Other downsides:

  • Lack of traditional amenities. Many apartments don’t have gyms, pools, spa, or a concierge desk to help you with bookings. Depends on what you’re looking for but if these are important, you’ll want to look elsewhere – be sure to check or ask before booking.
  • Fewer booking options/information sources. If you find a good apartment, you don’t have any other sites to check out reviews or ask for opinions.  We all know Tripadvisor has its faults, but where else can you read hundreds of reviews about where you’re staying? Plus hotels are often on multiple sites, which may give you an opportunity to get a deal.
  • Less availability. If it’s a house, or a room, then there’s only one of it. So, if it’s booked on the week you’re planning to travel, you’re out of luck, which can be mildly annoying/disappointing. But also sometimes there are multiple rooms available – the point is if you see something you want and there is limited availability, get your booking in there quick!

Have you tried an apartment instead of a hotel? What did you think?

Photo credits: pellesten

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 at 11:00
Category : Holiday Tips
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