Airbnb vs Hotel: Which is better?

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There is a lot of debate about the value of Airbnb and hotels. Most discussions rely on comparing the price of an Airbnb and hotel stay because it is relatively easy for us to understand the difference based on price. However, I believe that such comparisons are often misleading because they mostly consider rack rates of hotels. Rack rates are official hotel rates that are often 20% to 40% higher than the promotional rates that we usually get from websites such as Expedia,, and others.

I am not suggesting that Hotel prices are better than Airbnb. Instead, I believe that a fair review of hotel and Airbnb prices will reveal that the value of a stay is usually based on our unique needs rather than the price.

For instance, Airbnb often provides better value for individuals who are not really concerned about privacy, and they are willing to share an apartment with others. Similarly, Airbnb may be a better choice for families that require more than one room. In contrast, hotels are better for couples and people looking for added facilities such as business services, breakfast, and fitness facilities. Let’s take a closer look at these needs and value of a stay:

Privacy & Sharing

If you’re someone who feels comfortable sharing an apartment with strangers, Airbnb is the right choice. My experience suggests that you can find a substantial 40% to 50% lower prices on Airbnb in major cities all over the world. The comparison is based in staying at an independent room of a well-reputed owner on Airbnb against staying in a well-reputed 2-star or 3-star hotel. For instance, you can find an independent room on Airbnb for approximately $100 compared to a room for $200 at a 2-star or 3-star centrally located property in Manhattan, New York City.

For Families

There has been an uptrend in families preferring a private apartment instead of a hotel room. The preference makes sense as an apartment often offers better value compared to booking two hotel rooms adjoining each other. A two-room apartment will likely cost you 20% to 40% less on Airbnb compared to a good hotel.

This may not be the case if you use a hotel aggregator such as or utilize to pick a hotel room. I’ve written about these here, and here. In a nutshell, the promotional prices reveal that there may not be a price difference between a one-family or two-family room when using a hotel aggregator like hotelscombined or filters. While the price of an apartment maybe 10% or less on Airbnb compared to using these booking portals, the additional value derived from staying at a hotel full of facilities more than compensates for the discount.

For Couples

As most couples will only require one room for their stay, the charm of well-reputed hotels and additional facilities found in resorts is often compelling to use a hotel. As I suggested, most articles about Airbnb and Hotels focus on rack rates of hotels. In fact, if you use, or other portals, the price of a one-room stay at a 3-star hotel or above will likely be similar to staying at an excellent property at Airbnb. This is true because most couples prefer staying with Superhost on Airbnb and centrally located apartments that can offer them more security.


Most hotels offer free breakfast – a big incentive for some visitors to select a hotel instead of Airbnb. Similarly, if you’re health-conscious, then facilities such as the use of gym and swimming pool will also attract visitors to hotels. Business travelers may also prefer additional business facilities that are the main attraction to using a hotel instead of an Airbnb. For these visitors, a comparison that mostly considers rack rates of a hotel may not provide a clear picture.

Hopefully, you will put these factors into context when reading anything about such comparisons. Again, this discussion is open to debate, and I will love to hear your thoughts on it. Cheers!

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