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Hostels vs Hotels vs Airbnb; which is the best option and when

Regardless of where you’re traveling to, the major part of trip planning involves hours of internet surfing in search of that perfect accommodation option- a haven that you can call home while you’re away.

Now, the home might be a lively lobby of a youth hostel packed with international travelers, a rustic and chic Airbnb that you’ve booked for a week or a penthouse suite of a luxurious hotel.

At the end of the day, all you need is a getaway from Humdrum of everyday routine and find a home away from home.

With so many hostels, hotels boutiques and apartments to choose from, finding the right accommodation can be quite a daunting task. So, where should you stay?

There is no specific answer to this question and that should be a good thing because it also means you don’t have to be loyal to any. You can have a different experience each time you travel.

Basically, choosing an accommodation boils down to where you’re traveling to and what type of traveler you are. However, there are five factors that come to play when choosing the kind of lodging that fits you most.

  • Privacy

If you value your privacy and you are uneasy amidst crowds then hostels are the worst choice you can make when choosing accommodations.

Hostels often accommodate dozens of travelers via bunkbeds and a communal bathroom. If being in such close quarters with total strangers makes you uncomfortable, just stay away from hostel option especially if you are a solo traveler.

Usually, it’s possible to get a private room in hostels but they are few and you might still need to share some facilities such as bathrooms.

Hostels are an ideal option for backpackers who plan to spend most of their time exploring and very little time on the room.

In the same measure lodging with strangers can be a great way to meet new people that share the passion of sightseeing. You can make friends pretty fast and even get some tips on must-see spots in the area.

Personally, I love hostels for their social scenes, fun atmosphere, and organized activities. Trading stories and sharing destination tips is a highlight and an adventure in itself.

It’s a bit different when it comes to Airbnb since you have an option of booking an entire place or a private room.

You might need to stay with the owner of the house but that’s a plus since you’ll get the most authentic experience of living like a local. In addition, they’ll feed you with the most invaluable information regarding your destination.

Obviously, booking a hotel will be your best bet if privacy is your priority number one. But you can trade off the social scenes of a hostel to enjoy a little bit more comfort, privacy and security in Airbnb.

  • Price

Hotels used to be the most expensive option but with the rise of budget-friendly hotels, the lines aren’t so clear anymore.

The catch is, if you are on a shoe-string budget you’ll always find a cheaper hostel or Airbnb compared to most hotels.

If you fancy a medium- level accommodation- not a fabulous de-luxe suite and definitely not a hostel, then staying in Airbnb is cheaper in most cases.

Cheap accommodation on Airbnb is almost a guarantee but it takes a little bit of effort. Right, you can set filters but more often than not you’ll have to sacrifice one thing for another. For instance, the room might be cheaper but far from the center of the city.

Hotel rooms often include breakfast but you can save some bucks on lunch and dinner if you cook your food. You can’t cook in a hotel room so in this case, Airbnb is a winner.

In some places, hostels come with lots of self-sustaining amenities free for their customers like the communal kitchen which means you can cook your own meal, lockers and laundry facilities. Again if you aren’t an introvert then this option is really budget friendly.

Also, unlike in Airbnb in hostels, you enjoy some form of service though not as extensive and personalized as hotels.

  • Amenities

You have a great room, a good bed and generally a decent place to stay but sometimes it’s the little extra things that matter.

Hotels are equipped with a range of amenities that come free when you book your room. As much as they’re more expensive and lack the authentic feeling of a city, you can have little extras that cover the downside.

If you are a business traveler, a hotel provides a business center where you can make calls or print important documents.

Some hotels will have fitness facilities, swimming pools and other amenities that would otherwise be an extra cost if you were to choose Airbnb or hostels.

The flexibility is another factor you should put on mind especially if you are on a business trip- the check-in process is extremely easy in a hotel especially if you plan to stay for a day. This would be a hectic process if you were to choose Airbnb.

In a nutshell, people often choose a hotel room over the hostel and Airbnb when they want something more reliable and predictable with amenities and high level of comfort.

  • Security

In Hostels where you are sharing a room with a dozen of strangers your safety and that of your belongings isn’t guaranteed as in a hotel room or an Airbnb.

While it’s rare to get robbed or mysteriously lose your stuff (at least it never happened to me for the 6 years I used the hostels) you are constantly worried about finding your locker broken into.

The security of a hostel and Airbnb will be determined by the location of the premises but as a rule of thumb if you have to choose between your safety and saving some bucks always choose the latter.

  • Location

Mostly, hotels and hostels are centrally located- which is very important if you plan to do lots of walking around a city.

Hostels are however abundant in major cities and less common in smaller towns. So if you are considering a vacation off- the-beaten-path, you might be left with a choice between a hotel or an Airbnb.

But you can always search on sites such as Hostelworld to find out if there is an appealing hostel option in your destination.

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