Monday, April 8, 2013

Travel Planning: Airbnb or Hotel?

Part II
We've booked our plane tickets for our Europe trip! Next on the list is settling our accommodations in each country. In Copenhagen we'll probably be staying at the conference hotel, so that leaves Paris and Venice. I've recently discovered airbnb, a fantastic alternative to hotels that has become popular for finding unique and authentic lodging experience for travelers in Europe. Its been quite fun browsing through airbnb to see all the distinctive flats and homes-- anything but cookie-cutter.

Modern with a little rustic charm and a spa-like bathroom

Bright and airy apartment filled with sunlight

Classic Parisian flat with a mezzanine bedroom

Traditional hotels on the other hand, come with all the creature comforts that makes relaxing after a long day easy. Takes the guess-work out of all the arrangements and conveniences that make for a restful and pleasant stay. 
Love the facade of a typical Parisian hotel with planters on the balconies

An ultra modern hotel featured on designlovefest and BLTD for its lighting artwork. Very affordable too! 

Something in-between is this pretty apartment-hotel in Venice! Staffed by a professional company with hotel-like amenities such as limited concierge services and toiletries, but like a vacation rental also offers more living space, a kitchenette, and is located in a residential luxury apartment complex. 
Love the exposed wooden beams, hardwood floors, and the decor combination of clean modern lines with a touch of traditional Venetian flare! 

Airbnb 
Pros:
  • A homier atmosphere; more immersed in the city
  • Usually located in less touristy and quieter neighborhoods
  • More affordable in prime locations (walking distance to attractions)
  • More living space (even a moderately sized flat is usually larger than an affordable hotel suite)
  • Kitchens and some have washer/dryers (not necessary for our trip, but could be useful for longer stays)
Cons:
  • Minimal cleaning throughout the stay; most homes seem to have a pick-up-after-yourself policy
  • No front-desk or option of changing rooms if issues arise 
  • Most do not have air conditioning 
  • Availability 
Hotel
Pros:
  • Room service
  • Air conditioning (it seems the majority of flats in paris lack this amenity)
  • Concierge and front-desk services for questions and problems
  • Toiletries 
  • Fresh towels everyday 
  • Breakfast (some airbnb options include breakfast as well)
Cons:
  • Smaller rooms and less space for storage and to "spread out"
  • More foot-traffic throughout the hotel and more neighbors on every side (during peak season most rooms will be occupied)
  • Staying in an environment with a bunch of other tourists can be noisy

My dream vacation home or hotel in Europe would be clean and updated but also tastefully decorated with design touches authentic to the local culture, have lots of natural light and a pretty view out the window, and of course the location is key: a quiet area of a great neighborhood that's walking distance to attractions, public transportation, restaurants, and cafes. It's a tall order (especially on a budget) but there are so many fantastic choices it's going to be a difficult decision!

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