Choosing the best destination for a workation is a mammoth task in itself, but there’s only more admin and decision-making that follows. But of all the transport details, luggage solutions, and coworking spaces left to consider—it’s the accommodation that usually proves the biggest headache.
In this modern era of travel, there are two main booking options for remote workers to choose from: a hotel or an Airbnb. Although similar, the pair could not be more different, and you can bet that every seasoned digital nomad has their own history and baggage with one or the other.
So which is the best option for globe-roaming remote workers? Here’s everything you need to consider when choosing between a hotel or Airbnb.
Airbnb for Digital Nomads
Founded in 2008, Airbnb was created with the idea of sharing spaces and was quickly adopted by travelers, holidaymakers, and digital nomads as a cheap hotel alternative.
The initial concept of Airbnb started with hosts sharing either spare rooms in their homes or offering out their accommodation for paying guests to stay when they were out of town. This model has changed dramatically over the years and today and there are more than seven million Airbnb listings, most of which are dedicated vacation homes, apartments, and house shares.
The Pros of Airbnb
There are plenty of pros associated with Airbnb, particularly for digital nomads and remote workers looking for longer stays.
Good Home Layouts
Typically, as these listings are mostly apartments or homes, an Airbnb offers a living space that better suits long-term stays.
Digital nomads can search for accommodation with multiple bedrooms, living areas, and kitchens. Additional careful searches on the platform can find dedicated workspaces in the listings, perfect for those that prefer to work from home over a coworking space or cafe.
Additionally, digital nomads are able to search a range of unique filters when searching for their next stay. From beaches and national parks to historical homes, farms, and even islands. When it comes to the weird, wacky and wonderful, the accommodation on Airbnb is hard to beat.
Discounted Rates for Long-Term Stays
One of the top benefits of Airbnb is the pricing compared to hotels of similar quality, especially for longer stays.
Airbnb properties can offer discounted rates for long-term stays that surpass the typical long weekend break. Stays longer than seven days may be eligible for a weekly discount and stays longer than 28 days could come with a monthly discount. Not every property offers these long-term discounts so it’s worth viewing the specifics in the listings.
Monthly discounts prove the most beneficial for digital nomads. It’s common for the monthly discount rate to offer as much as 50% off of the initial rate—a huge saving with effectively two full weeks booked for free!
It’s always worth checking the long-term stays when choosing new destinations to find these large discounted offers. It’s also worth noting that your best bet is to book as far in advance as possible to avoid missing out on the top properties.
One of the main benefits of using Airbnb to find your next remote working accommodation are the unique experiences that come with the bookings.
There are so many unique stays and individual hosts listed on Airbnb with unreplicable experiences found left, right, and center. From staying at a fourth-generation vineyard in the Douro Valley to a glass-fronted crane conversion in the docks of Amsterdam. You’ll be amazed at what you can find listed on the platform. You can also flick over to the experiences tab to find locals advertising unique activities in the area. From cooking classes and walking tours to adventure sports and language lessons, it’s all available at Airbnb experiences.
The Cons of Airbnb
Although there are millions of users that love Airbnb, there are just as many that have sworn against the platform when booking their next destination. The platform does have a few downsides that you should be prepared for.
Poor Customer Service
The reputation of Airbnb has been in decline over recent years with thousands of members reporting a drop in service from both the platform itself and from the hosts posting their properties.
There are way too many horror stories out there of subpar stays met with a subpar responses from the Airbnb team. Refunds and disputes can take weeks and consistent service is almost impossible to guarantee.
Airbnb has, however, recognized the issues and in recent months has introduced AirCover, a service offering the following for all bookings:
- Booking Protection Guarantee
- Check-In Guarantee
- Get-What-You-Booked Guarantee
- 24-hour Safety Line
The team clearly aims to address the customer service and safety concerns with Airbnb, but as of right now, the customer service is just not as good as a hotel.
Misleading Listings and Untrustworthy Hosts
We all expect pictures of the accommodation to look a little better than the arrival impressions, but the difference between the two shouldn’t shock or surprise.
Unfortunately, there have been a number of these incidents with untrustworthy hosts creating misleading listings when advertising their property. It can be difficult to spot these exaggerated properties, especially when booking on a budget, and digital nomads can feel tricked or deceived after arrival.
Again, the recent Airbnb update has addressed these issues with the “Get-What-You-Booked Guarantee”. Guests are now protected with bookings required to match the expectations of guests with added layers of assistance.
Hotels for Digital Nomads
With the astronomical rise of Airbnb in the past decade, hotels have been put on the back burner.
At the same time, the increased popularity of Airbnb has seen an increase in prices and, unfortunately, a decrease in service. Holidaymakers, remote workers, and digital nomads that have formerly sworn are reconsidering the benefits of staying at a hotel. It may, at times, feel like an outdated way to travel, there’s a lot the hotel model does right, even if we do still have some things we dislike about the one-room style of accommodation.
The Pros of Hotels
Hotels offer a great, reliable place to stay when traveling as a digital nomad and there’s a long list of pros that go along with the traditional rooms.
One of the biggest reasons that we love hotels is thanks to the top-quality service that nomads can rely on when traveling internationally.
The service in a hotel (especially a nice one) is reliable, and it’s something that even the best-equipped Airbnb struggles to match. Fresh towels, 24-hour check-in, and a front desk dedicated to solving any issue you may have during your stay are top reasons to spend your time in a hotel.
This is what’s missing from the Airbnb experience. If your room is too noisy, or there’s an issue with an appliance, or you’re looking for a local recommendation, or you need something as simple as a fresh towel, there’s always someone there to help.
Reliable Solution for International Travel
For international travelers arriving at their first destination, there’s nothing better than arriving at the hotel check-in desk knowing that you’re in for a straight-forward, no lockbox-fiddling, experience.
Rooms are almost always clean, well presented, and boast comfortable beds between quiet, soundproofed walls. There are rarely any nasty surprises and, if even if there are, guests can simply head down to reception to have any issues quickly solved.
It’s the ability to quickly switch rooms that is a privilege that many of us have forgotten about. If there is an issue, or a complaint, rooms can be easily swapped (or even upgraded) for guests. When traveling internationally, this privilege usually isn’t offered with Airbnb listings.
Loyalty Programs and Benefits
Digital nomads and remote workers that find themselves traveling often can benefit from hotel loyalty programs when regularly booking.
There are some fantastic loyalty programs out there ranging from Best Western Rewards to Hilton Honors. Benefits range from free night stays to free room upgrades for loyal customers at the hotel chains. Granted, these loyalty schemes are typically reserved for luxury hotels, but by playing the rewards right, these can prove to be a cost-effective option.
In addition to the benefits offered by the hotel, the bookings themselves can be earned as part of a rewards scheme. Travel credit cards, such as the American Express Platinum, can be used to gain additional hotel benefits ranging from early check-in, late check-out, free room upgrades, and free breakfasts.
That’s a list of benefits that no Airbnb can match and one of the top tips from full-time global travelers. If you’re living nomadically and traveling often, a rewards-based travel credit card can unlock plenty of benefits outside of room upgrades and late checkout!
The Cons of Hotels
They may be a good option when traveling the world, but there’s a reason that hotels moved away from the top spot for digital nomads.
Small, Cramped Rooms
One of the biggest issues for digital nomads looking for a hotel is that the rooms are often small and can feel a little cramped, especially for long-term stays.
Four walls and a small ensuite bathroom is fine for a long weekend away, but the confined space can be a challenge when traveling full-time. The room size will, of course, correlate to the price paid, but nomads will often miss out on the multiple rooms offered by an Airbnb in the same price bracket.
Shared common spaces, meeting rooms, and amenities may make up for a smaller living space, but this is, again, heavily dependent on the chosen hotel. We would always recommend paying a little extra to have the option of spending as much time outside of the room as possible, not only for the sake of productivity but also to avoid that cramped room feeling.
Compared to equivalent Airbnb selections, hotels can prove to be a costly solution for long-term stays. Unlike Airbnb, weekly and monthly discount rates are rare and guests are instead charged a nightly rate for their stay. These fees can add up quickly, a hotel room costing just $75 per night will total $2,100 for a 28-day stay.
This higher price point is, again, offset by the service and amenities provided by a hotel, but it’s still incomparable to equivalent Airbnb fees. Loyalty schemes and hotel rewards can improve the value, but it’s worth shopping around on both platforms to find the best deal.
Are Hotels or Airbnbs Best for Digital Nomads?
Ultimately, it all boils down to preference and what it is that you’re looking for in your life on the road as a digital nomad. For stress-free accommodation where everything is taken care of for you, it’s hard to beat the traditional hotel model. If having a kitchen and a living space is worth the risk of something going wrong, Airbnb is going to be the best offer.
If you’ve not yet given Airbnb a try, it’s worth a try to see exactly how the platform operates and how it could work for you. Compare your experiences and make up your own opinions on whether a hotel or an Airbnb is the best solution for you.