Vacation rentals or hotels, that is the question. When choosing the most suitable accommodation for your trip, there are a few factors that come into play. For example, how much are you willing to spend for a night? After all, the money that doesn’t go into accommodation, goes into meals or shopping. To help you deal with this struggle, we have compiled a checklist to guide your choice in deciding the perfect accommodation for your trip. Undecided between vacation rentals or hotels? Read on to find out more about which to pick when you are planning your perfect holiday trip.
1. Budget – high or low
Costs can vary according to the size, location and length of your stay. If you are not on a tight budget, staying at a hotel might be more enticing than spending a night in a vacation home. Unlike a vacation rental, a hotel offers more customer-oriented services such as room-keeping services and a 24 hour reception and concierge to attend to any needs you might have. Stay in a hotel and when you are back after a long day spent exploring the city, you can be sure to return to a tidied room and clean sheets.
If your budget is not as flexible, vacation rentals are the way to go. The biggest perk is that instead of getting a room all to yourself, you get an entire house! This often comes complete with a living room, a bedroom and a kitchen. It will be like you never left home, except maybe a little bit nicer and more exciting.
2. Location – city or suburb
More often than not, the reason why most hotels are costly is due to the fact that they are conveniently located in the city, nearby top attractions or conveniences, such as fast food outlets. In fact, hotels pride themselves on the basis that their location is ideal for travellers. This is due to the convenience of attaining both meals and transport connectivity should you choose to stay here. If you are looking to have a 24 hour convenience store and a bus or train station right at your doorstep, a hotel might serve as a better choice compared to a vacation rental.
On the other hand, there are also numerous vacation rentals hailed for their location right in the middle of the city. Some examples include townhouses or apartment complexes. While hotels tend to be centrally-located, vacation rentals tend to be scattered all around. Due to the relatively cheaper prices, vacation rentals found in prime locations tend to be snatched up in a jiffy, so do note their vacancy rates and try to book in advance if you are interested.
However, if you fail to book a vacation rental in the city, there are many alternative options. While some of these vacation rentals might be quite a distance from shopping malls or grocery stores, they offer beautiful, scenic spots in exchange. If you are used to the bustling city lights, it might be a good change to just sit back and enjoy the natural lights in the sky when you’re on vacation.
3. Duration - long or short stay
A hotel room makes for a great option if you are staying for a few days, but if you are planning to stay for longer, perhaps a vacation rental would be more cost effective. Hotels generally have fixed rates per night, but during certain peak periods and seasons, prices might get marked up quite a bit. In addition, it is not really worth the effort to settle into an apartment for awhile only to clean it up soon after.
In comparison, the rates for vacation rentals are more flexible: be it nightly, weekly or monthly. Most vacation rentals, such as Airbnb hosts, provide discounts for guests who stay for a week or a month. For certain vacation rentals, there is also a minimum requirement of days you would need to stay to be able to book the place. So, even if you wanted to stay at a vacation home for a short period of time, it might not be possible to do so.
Nevertheless, if you decide to stay at a place for more than a week, the cost per night at a vacation home can turn out to be cheaper than at a hotel. Staying at vacation rentals for a long period of time also gives you the chance to be familiar with the neighbourhood and the town and discover local sights that travellers staying in a hotel might have missed out on.
4. Company – friends or family
As Charles M. Schulz once said, “in life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with”. The type of company can vastly determine the type of trip you have and the type of accommodation you’d want to stay at. In truth, be it with friends or family, staying at either a hotel or a vacation home is perfectly fine. The deciding factor hinges mostly on the circumstances and requirements of the company you keep while on your trip.
If you are on a trip with just one or two of your best friends, a hotel could be a better choice. It’s cozy, and air-conditioned. Plus, you don’t even have to make your own bed! A hotel room will make for a wonderful place to rest after a tiring day of exploration.
However, if you are on a trip with a big family, a private vacation rental makes for a more appropriate choice. It is more spacious and provides guests a sense of closeness with their families and a chance to bond even more over a home-cooked meal!
Furthermore, vacation rentals tend to be the better choice if you have kids travelling with you. While there are kid-friendly hotels, vacation rentals are homes, places where your kids have the space to roam around instead of being cooped up in a single room. With multiple rooms, parents also have the opportunity to chat with each other while their kids can sleep in another room and have an impromptu sleepover. While most hotel rooms generally have standard designs, the advantage of choosing a vacation rental is that guests are able to pick the type of vacation home most suited for their kids. Some vacation rentals even come with cribs, toys and video game consoles that hosts generously allow guests to use.
5. Meals – eating in or dining out
While some hotels offer a free breakfast package during your stay, lunch and dinner are often eaten at restaurants and eateries away from the hotels. This is unless guests also want to visit the hotel’s on-site restaurant every night. Unlike vacation rentals, hotel rooms are small and thus have no space to fit a kitchen. So in addition to paying for your hotel room fees, a considerable amount of your travel allowance would have to be spent on meals. On the bright side, this gives you more opportunities to sample the local delicacies of your holiday destination, enriching your taste buds with new and interesting cuisines!
However, if you are looking to save costs, maybe a home-cooked meal might be a better option. Most vacation rentals include a kitchen stocked with utensils and cookware, ideal for you to display or practice your cooking skills. Meal choices are also not restricted to what is available nearby. Instead, it is limited to what you can get at the grocery store! The downside though, is that you would have to do the dishes and clean up after your meal. Oh well, this will make for another great chance to bond with your travelling companions though.
6. Amenities – What is a 'must have' ?
What is a necessity for you whilst on a trip? A pool? Cable television? Internet connectivity? A washing machine and dryer? Hotels and vacation rentals offer different amenities to guests, so it pretty much depends on what you are looking for as a must-have.
Most hotels provide Internet connection, toiletries, slippers, towels and daily-cleaned sheets as part of the standard hotel service. For additional services such as laundry services, hotels tend to charge extra. If you are not careful, even the drinks in your mini fridge could cost a few bucks. Always remember to read the fine print if you stay at a hotel! Some amenities are also shared, such as the lounge and pool area.
Alternatively, as vacation rentals are usually privately-owned homes, they are equipped with a washing machine, a dryer, a television, Internet connectivity and regular, household items. Some vacation rentals even have their own private pool or garden, so be sure to check the pictures listed! The drawback, however, is that you have to make your own bed and clean the house yourself.
7. Safety - which is more secure?
Hotels typically offer more security than vacation rentals, as there are security guards as well as staff on hand if you ever require any assistance. Certain hotels have elevators, which take you directly to your room floor via your room’s key card. Security cameras installed in hotels also act as strong deterrents to thieves, making it easier to track any lost items. Even in your own room, there is usually a safety deposit box to store any valuables, so if you are worried about your belongings or personal safety, staying in a hotel would put your mind at ease.
When booking a vacation rental, do take note of the type of neighbourhood or the host if you are planning to stay with them. As it is a private home, there won’t be a 24 hour reception to assist you if anything unexpected happens. Be sure to take necessary precautions while travelling, such as checking the nearby area or the background of your hosts before booking an accommodation. Also take into account places where you can get help and emergency contact numbers as a precaution and you will be fine.
Travelling to a new and unfamiliar destination can be both exciting and intimidating. Safety should always come first, particularly in the place where you spend your nights at. It is always good to be wary and stay alert in order to have an enjoyable trip.
8. Purpose - business or leisure
As for the last but most important point, bear in mind the purpose of your trip. Hotels are perfect for business. Hotels are a business after all, so it comes as no surprise that hotels offer better customer-oriented services compared to vacation rentals. Some are even designed for business travellers, and include certain services and amenities such as high speed Internet or free WiFi, multilingual concierges, limousine services, translation and interpretation services and even a conference room and staff. Hence, hotels are ideal for work or business meetings.
Alternatively, if you are quite the adventurer and always up for exploring the unknown and getting a taste of how the locals live, vacation rentals are more suitable for the trip. Staying in a private home or apartment enables you to experience life as a local, and not as a tourist. Away from usual tourist activities and areas, you can stop at a local grocery store and think about what to cook for your meal. You can also visit places less known and travelled by tourists. You will also be given the chance to get to know your next door neighbour, and make some new friends in a different country.
Another thing to take into account is if you are embarking on a solo trip or a family trip. Economically speaking, hotels are designed for small groups of people while vacation rentals are more appropriate for large groups of people. If you are flying solo, hotels are a safer as well as a more practical option. You wouldn’t need that much space a vacation rental has to offer for yourself anyway. Instead, vacation rentals are perfect for family trips. On top of the spacious living area and multiple rooms, vacation homes offer families privacy. As big families are bound to get noisy, they won’t have to worry about the noise level as compared to staying in a hotel room.
So, vacation rentals or hotels?
Both vacation rentals and hotels have their advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, it is all about your priorities and what you are willing (and not willing) to give up. If you have a flexible budget and are looking for a place to spend a few nights, a hotel could be a better choice. If you are looking for something more cost-effective and travelling with a big group of people, vacation rentals might be a more ideal solution. You should also consider the purpose of your trip and the surrounding neighbourhood to ensure that your trip will be a safe and enjoyable one. While these few points serve as a guide, the final decision ultimately rests in your hands!