With as much as Adam and I travel, we’ve stayed in many, many hotels, bed and breakfasts, and Airbnbs. We’ve seen everything from a four star hotel that doesn’t miss a detail to Airbnbs that left much to be desired. So, it’s no surprise that one of the questions I’m most often asked regarding travel is, “Where should we stay?”
HERE ARE YOUR OPTIONS: AIRBNB, HOTEL, BED AND BREAKFAST
Generally, when you’re traveling, you have a few options. There’s the standard hotel option, though that can expand into boutique hotels, inns, and corporate hotels where you earn points for staying with any of their brands. Then, there’s the Airbnb option, which I’m using as a term to encompass anything you book through a home rental site, including VRBO or HomeAway. Lastly, there are bed and breakfasts, which I’m including in a separate category from hotels because they’re often a bit more cozy and personal – plus, you get breakfast.
But, how do you decide where to stay? Does it depend on the trip? Does it depend on budget? I’m going to answer all your questions by laying out the pros and cons of each.
THE PROS AND CONS
Each overnight option comes with its own set of pros and cons. Nothing’s perfect, of course, but each has reasons to stay…and reasons not to depending on the occasion. Let’s run through the pros and cons.
There are so many subcategories under hotels, and I’ll say that my favorite places to stay are typically boutique hotels or inns. You get all the perks of a hotel – your room is cleaned every day, the system to check in and out is clear and efficient, you can come and go as you please – but it’s typically a more upscale or intimate stay.
Many people prefer to stay with a larger hotel program, say a Marriott or a Hilton, for the perks. While I’ve never gone that route, there is definitely something to be said for getting status within a particular program, particularly if you travel frequently for work.
What about the cons of hotels? Sometime larger hotels can feel a bit lacking in personality, but, again, that’s why I typically opt for a boutique hotel or inn. Also, a nice hotel can typically be a bit on the pricier side when compared with an Airbnb or bed and breakfast option.
Oh, Airbnb…sometimes you’re great, and sometimes you’re just not. Airbnbs are so hit or miss. Sometimes, you find a cool, funky place where the host leaves amazing food and you get this local experience that you’d never have staying at a hotel. Then other times, you end with someone’s home that they didn’t clean and they didn’t even leave basic needs like toilet paper. And, still other times, there’s a dead mouse in the cottage that they can’t find…
Yeah. I have very mixed feelings on Airbnb. It’s definitely the most budget friendly option most times, particularly if you have a large group. But, it’s not always worth the risk. Pictures can be deceiving (they can for a hotel, too, but I’ve found it more with Airbnb) and more times than not the place is, well, kind of dirty. Then, to add to all this, I’ve found renting an Airbnb abroad to be a complete pain 90% of the time.
On other hand, these photos are from an Airbnb we’ve now stayed in twice outside Charlottesville! It’s cozy and close to the vineyards and it’s super affordable.
BED AND BREAKFAST
If you’re looking for a more intimate stay, then a bed and breakfast is a great route to go. In most cases, you’ll find a cozy, charming stay with a warm breakfast in the morning. You’ll most likely chat with the owners and they’ll invite you to an evening wine hour. It’s a delightful way to spend a few days. You’ll have all the amenities of a hotel, but it feels like you’re in someone’s comfy home.
I do make an effort to find bed and breakfasts that have a bit more of a contemporary feel. While every once in a while a bed and breakfast will absolutely nail the vintage ambiance (10 Clarke in Frederick, MD certainly does!!), there seem to be more cases of it feeling a bit too “cute.”
Also, with a bed and breakfast, you do have to pay a bit more attention to some of the details when booking. Is the bathroom shared? What time is breakfast? Will you be sitting at breakfast with other guests? These can be deal breakers for some, while others love the communal feel and getting to know other guests.
I realized while writing this that there are some places that didn’t quite fit into the hotel category but deserved a mention – resorts. Resorts are places where everything you could need is on site, and often they’re a destination on their own. Two of the best on the East Coast are the Greenbrier and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. While they are most similar to a hotel, typically you’ll make the trip to these places without the intention of using it as a home base for the rest of your trip. You’re probably not planning on leaving the resort grounds. They’ll have restaurants, activities, shopping – everything you could need to check in and stay put.
WHAT KIND OF TRAVELER ARE YOU?
Much of this decision is likely going to be based on what type of traveler you are. Are you someone who prefers to come home to a clean room ever evening? Then you need to stay at a hotel or bed and breakfast. Do you enjoy chatting with other travelers? Go the bed and breakfast route. Do you want a homey experience and you’re willing to sacrifice the amenities? You’re cut out for the Airbnb route.
Consider your priorities, where you’re willing to compromise, and the vibe you’re going for in your travels and book accordingly.
YOUR STAY PREFERENCE MAY DEPEND ON THE TRIP
For us, our preference on where to stay often depends on the trip. If we’re headed on a getaway out in the country or a more rural area, we’re likely going to book a bed and breakfast. If we’re going out of town for say, a wedding, or something that’s not in a charming “destination” town, then we’ll probably just book whatever budget friendly, clean hotel is nearby.
Going to a trendy city where we want to be in the heart of the action? It’s most likely a boutique hotel or inn – something that will give us a respite from the city while still keeping us walkable to everywhere we want to go.
So, given my iffy feelings on Airbnb, when would I book one? Honestly, I’ll only book an Airbnb if I’m going somewhere with a group and it seems to be the most efficient option or if I’m going to be somewhere where the other options are prohibitively expensive. It’s definitely not my first option, for sure.
Still have questions about my recommendations or wondering about somewhere I’ve specifically stayed? Feel free to email me or comment below and we can chat!