My wife, daughter, and I stayed at a Los Angeles-area Airbnb last week. Our house hosted Thanksgiving; someone who shall remain nameless volunteered our master bedroom and daughter’s room so other family would have a place to stay.
Naturally, my brood of three needed a place to crash.
My wife found an Airbnb about three minutes away from our house. “Oh, it’ll be fun!” she said, fully enjoying the sneer on my face.
I really don’t like staying in short term rentals. Yes, I’ve enjoyed nice vacation rentals here and there. But this whole “rent my couch!” or “stay in our spare bedroom!” or “take our guest house!” movement just isn’t my thing.
Bad directions caused us to spend an hour walking around in Amsterdam — during a downpour. A client of mine who books us vendors’ travel once put seven of us in a San Francisco Airbnb — complete with bunk beds not designed for adults.
So I haven’t had great experiences.
In general, though, I’m not crazy about staying in other people’s homes. With that, here are the six reasons I’d much rather stay in a hotel than an Airbnb.
I Know What to Expect at Hotels
I admit it: I am a creature of habit. With the exception of a few purgatories that should be condemned, every hotel in which I’ve stayed is fairly standard: bed, desk, chair, bathroom, clean and bleached towels. Some are nicer than others but many do the job just fine.
Each Airbnb is inherently different. Some have a work desk! Some don’t. “Quaint” and “the place has personality” are cute synonyms for “lacking basic services” or “deal with it.”
Side note: I’m not a fan of sharing bathrooms with the host. (Which I realize isn’t always the situation — but has been during at least one Airbnb experience).
Check-In and Check-Out are Always Available
Two work colleagues assigned to a photoshoot in France took a few extra days to explore Europe. They split an Airbnb in either Belgium. Their train arrived late at night — and their host was nowhere to be found.
Apparently, he forgot to meet them. And was sleeping far away from the property they booked.
So here were these two young ladies in a foreign country without a place to stay that night. (Alas, they were fine. They ended up hanging out in a pub before having breakfast with locals in the morning.)
Granted, that’s a rather extreme example of what can go wrong. But you never worry about it — until it happens to you (or someone you know).
Last week, my wife had to arrange a check-in time with the property owner. The timing had to be convenient for both their schedules. This was easier said than done, considering both parties had Thanksgiving cooking preparations, families to accommodate, and children to tend to.
These are not problems at most hotels. Why?
Because reputable hotels are open all day and all night.
Are there hotels where the front desk receptionist is also the housekeeper, security guard, shuttle bus driver, and pool cleaner? Sure. But those are very few and far between. And hardly any belong to reputable companies.
Maintenance and Other Issues
Problem with the TV? HVAC issues? Plumbing clogged? Most hotels have onsite staff to remedy the situation ASAP. Or you likely can be moved to a different room.
With short term rentals, though, you have to hope the host can quickly fix any problems that arise. Or that their handy person is a short call away.
The king-size bed at our Airbnb last week had two pillows. Total. For my wife and me. The host didn’t stock any extras.
I’m uncomfortable in a stranger’s house — especially with their possessions. Call me paranoid or untrusting. But I’d hate for an Airbnb host to accidentally lose or throw away something — and blame it on me.
Granted, people can steal items from hotels (towels, Bibles, clothes hangars, glasses). But those don’t carry the personal value — financially or sentimentally — that some hosts have in their rental properties.
Not everyone enjoys living near vacation rental properties.
And some let you know.
During a couple of Christmases, my in-laws rented a home from the My Castle House group in Anaheim, California. (I must admit, their houses are very awesome.)
We stood outside each night to watch the Disneyland fireworks. Some neighbors were talking walks or arriving home from dinner or work. We waved and wished them a Merry Christmas. The neighbors glared at or just plain ignored us. One of them had a lawn sign urging a ban on short term rentals: “We want neighborhoods. Not stranger hoods!”
But you know what? I get it.
I like knowing each of my neighbors (well, except for a couple…) and knowing who’s in the area.
There are exceptions, of course. Our Airbnb in Amsterdam was near a mom and pop coffee shop (not one of those Amsterdam coffee shops). The baristas asked if we were staying at the Airbnb (apparently, its quite well-known), welcomed us to town, and offered any assistance we needed with directions or recommendations.
No Loyalty Program
You knew this was coming 🙂 .
Because I’m not an Airbnb person in general, their lack of a loyalty program isn’t a deal-breaker. But it certainly doesn’t endear them to me.
I’ve met some Airbnb hosts who would be amazing hoteliers. They’re hospitable and take great pride in their guests’ experiences.
I saw listings for some in Europe who owned houseboats and included a river cruise sightseeing package as part of the booking. That would be worth confronting my Airbnb-phobia 🙂
Is It Just Me?
Am I the only one who much prefers staying in hotels than Airbnbs or other short-term rentals? Is there something I’m missing? I’d love to hear your thoughts — please share them in the below Comments section!
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