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Hotel, Airbnb or Vrbo: Which vacation option is best?

Rates can be much higher than pre-pandemic times
Airbnb-Cleaning Policy
Posted at 4:26 AM, Jul 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-21 06:26:06-04

With higher prices, it's getting harder to narrow down where to stay during a trip: a hotel or a rental home. The days of cheap stays during the pandemic are long gone, wherever you want to stay.

Allison Whipple says rental home prices are getting too high for her.

"The cleaning fees have gotten so bad that honestly, I might as well go to a hotel. It's not as good a deal anymore," she said.

But Jahana Esselle still prefers a rental home to a hotel.

"I like Airbnb better," she said. "It's more like home, a house."

Sally French with NerdWallet said it can be frustrating to pay higher hotel prices but get fewer perks.

"So, you used to get cleaning service every day," she said. "Now, hotels often say it's by request or we only offer it every fifth day."

Hotel vs rental home pricing

As for hotel rates, they are higher than pre-COVID times and averaged $197 per night over the Fourth of July weekend. That is still lower than rental home prices.

So which should you choose: a hotel or a rental on Airbnb or Vrbo?

French says it really depends on the length of your stay and the size of your group.

"Airbnbs tend to be a lot more worth it for longer trips as well as trips that involve a big group," she said.

According to NerdWallet the median price for a one-night stay on Airbnb is now $314. The median drops to $213 for a seven-night stay, a 32% drop.

"That's a big difference from hotels where typically you just pay per night," she said,

However, Airbnb gives you many options. You can rent entire homes, apartments or just a room for prices as low as $30 or $40 a night. With Vrbo, you get the whole vacation home, as their commercials state.

French says it's important to crunch all the numbers before you book, including:

  • Parking (which can be $30 a night at big city hotels)
  • Groceries or dining out every day if you don't have a kitchen
  • Time and cost of doing laundry
  • Cleaning fees with rental homes

Whichever you choose, Whipple said plan ahead.
"I am definitely a book in advance person," she said.

And that way you don't waste your money.

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