Hotel room beds

Hotel vs Air BnB

We love to go and visit new places which often involves an overnight stay.  This led to us using Air BnB for the first time in 2018, opening up all sorts of new options for us.  On a more recent trip to Leicester we used a hotel though, so which do we prefer?  Here I compare hotel vs Air BnB for family travel.

Hotel Pros

  • On-site car parking which is usually free and often has security cameras too.
  • Breakfast included, meaning I don’t have to cook.  The kids (ok and us adults) love it when there’s a buffet breakfast and we can try different things.  Our most recent hotel stay even had a waffle maker for breakfast which was a huge hit!
  • Feels a bit luxurious and like a proper getaway treat.
  • Beds made up ready for us, towels included and often little toiletries, tea/coffee, etc.
  • Additional facilities might include a swimming pool, gym, bar, etc.  Great if you fancy making a little holiday out of it.
Hotel breakfast complete with waffle maker

Hotel Cons

  • Difficult to find hotels which have rooms to accommodate more than 4 people.  Bigger families don’t want to have to pay for 2 separate rooms as that defeats the point of going away together as a family.
  • Those hotels that do offer larger rooms to accommodate bigger families charge a premium price for it.  There’s no chance of a cheap night away or getting a good ‘deal’ – in my experience anyway.
  • The kids sleep in the same room as you.  Not so great if they/you snore or are restless sleepers.  Plus there is no privacy which is a little tricky when you have teens in particular.  This may mean taking turns getting changed in the bathroom.
  • You can’t chill and watch TV in the evening as the kids are in the same room as you.  Family friendly channels until their bedtime and then its lights out.
Hotel room

Air BnB Pros

  • You can find big enough accommodation to suit your family pretty much anywhere you want to go across the entire world!
  • Tends to be cheaper than a hotel (or at least cheaper options available if you want them).
  • Home from home so you can do your own thing without being disturbed by others.  Kids can have their own separate bedroom so you have a bit of privacy and a break from them too.
  • Self catering so you don’t have to worry about any dietary needs being catered for adequately, just do it yourselves.  Having said that we have also stayed at an Air BnB where the host made us cooked breakfast in the morning which was lovely!
  • More space!  Most Air BnBs are proper homes and usually have a garden.  It gives you more space to spread out and outdoor areas for the kids to let off steam.  I’ve found this invaluable with the kids.  Their favourite thing about our Air BnB in Ireland was the rope swing in the garden.
  • There are some really amazing quirky places you can rent to stay in.  It’s well worth a good look around at whats available in the area you are visiting.  We’ve seen tree houses, lighthouses, etc.  Make your accommodation part of the adventure!
Rope swing at our Air BnB in Ireland

Air BnB Cons

  • With them being privately owned you can’t always guarantee things will be as expected.  If you are staying within someones home who will be there during your stay you don’t know what they will be like to ‘live’ with.  Read the reviews first to see what other guests thought of it.
  • They can be quite difficult to find and car parking isn’t necessarily included.  Always read the details very carefully.
  • It isn’t as luxurious as a hotel stay. 
  • You will have to tidy up, cook and clean just as you would at home.  This may or may not suit you.  Sometimes its nice to have a break from doing the chores.
  • You may need to take your own bedding, towels, etc,etc.  Read the small print before you book.
  • You need to respect at all times that it’s someone else’s property and make sure the kids recognise this as well.  If there are ornaments etc around the home that could easily get broken it can make things a little stressful!
Air BnB bedroom in Ireland

The Verdict

The verdict is – it depends on you, your family and what you want from your trip.  Sometimes we love the luxury of a hotel stay with breakfast included and not having to lift a finger.   Personally though with the kids I could probably only do a hotel for 1 -2 nights at the most.  Any more than that and I’d definitely opt for an Air BnB instead.  This is largely down to the need for space rather than us all being crammed into a hotel room. 

Of course affordability also comes into it.  I’m happy to splash out on a hotel and a bit of luxury for one night but this wouldn’t be realistic for a week long trip.  If I was traveling without the kids though I would always opt for the luxury of a hotel.

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