3 Reasons You Might Not Want to Rent an Airbnb When You Travel, According to an Airbnb Owner

published Oct 17, 2022
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Confession: I own two Airbnbs, but I rarely book one when I travel. Shocking, I know. Although short-term rentals are the answer to many travel experiences, sometimes they’re not the best option. Plus, they’re not for every type of traveler.

Here are three scenarios when you may want to choose more traditional accommodations over booking an Airbnb.

Your cost per person doesn’t make sense.

Unless I’m looking for a unique stay, I rarely book an Airbnb when it’s just my husband and me. This is because the total cost — including the nightly rate, cleaning fee, guest service fee, and occupancy taxes — can get pretty high for just two people. In that case, I typically book chain accommodations. Hotels have all the same fees as Airbnb, but the rates tend to be lower overall since they’re able to hire staff and have dozens of rooms in one location.

Conversely, I choose Airbnb when the cost per person is more affordable, especially when we have a group. Recently, I booked a three-bedroom house in West Virginia because we had others traveling with us. Booking an entire home allowed each family to have their own bedroom while giving us common areas to gather. Paying $250 per night for seven people was much more economical than the three hotel rooms we would have required each night.

You need to perform a long list of exit duties.

Because each Airbnb host can set their own rules, you may have to do a few things before you leave, and some short-term rentals have long task lists. For example, I recently stayed at an Airbnb in South Carolina where we had a list of duties. Unfortunately, our hosts failed to list the tasks, and we arrived to find a note posted on the refrigerator with rules and exit chores. Exit duties usually are easy to find within the listing. 

We wanted a relaxing morning, but we had to take out the trash, strip the beds, wipe the counters, and start the dishwasher before our checkout time of 10 a.m. In the host’s defense, everything else was perfect — and the place was adorable  — so they still earned a five-star review despite us having to perform unexpected tasks. However, if you’re leaving for an early flight and have a list of chores to perform, you may want to pass on reserving that particular Airbnb. (In case you are curious, guests are free from doing any exit duties at my rentals.)

You want consistency from a trusted brand.

Airbnb is a brand that tries to regulate its properties, but each host and listing differs. Everyone has varying definitions of clean, and what is listed as “spacious” may seem tiny to you. Another consideration is that many folks enjoy staying at boutique properties like Kimpton Hotels or earning loyalty points from a national brand. Additionally, most hotel chains offer uniformity no matter where the individual property is.

However, if you are looking for a unique stay, turn to Airbnb or alternatives like Vrbo or Sonder or for one-of-a-kind properties. Where else can you book a treehouse, home designed by a famous architect, or private glamping tent in the woods? Plus, there are perks to having an entire property to yourself or simply booking a room in a home share when you see fit.

If you’re looking for trustworthiness, that is the purpose of the review system. Unless an Airbnb is brand new, you should be able to see ratings and reviews by former guests. Not only can you read what previous stays were like, but you can also get a sense of the host from how they respond to critiques. It’s not the same as brand recognition, but ratings will give you a sense of what to expect when you arrive.