During our first year as parents we have stayed in a mixture of both hotels and AirBNB holidays lets with the baby. Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages and are worth considering when you are booking accommodation for your next family holiday with baby in tow. My comments below are very much a generalization as there are obviously such a wide variety of hotels and AirBNBs available all around the world offering different things. So AirBNB vs hotel with a baby – what is better?
Generally when you book a hotel you will simply have a room and a bathroom, meaning the baby is bunking in with you. Unless of course you want to splash out on a suite or shut them in the bathroom? Whilst this is a useful option, it also makes it difficult if you need to use the facilities. AirBNB accommodation will often be an apartment or a house (although you can book just a room), meaning that you will likely have a couple of living areas and can therefore arrange for the baby to sleep elsewhere. If bubs is young and still in your room at home, you may not have an issue with either situation. However, if they are in their own room and sleeping well at night, it can be difficult to all be back in the same room and disturbing each other (babies are noisy, as are snoring husbands!). We have found that most hotels and AirBNBs will provide a cot free of charge, however I highly recommend asking the hotel or host BEFORE you make your booking as we have been caught out on a couple of occasions, and co-sleeping is not very restful for anyone.
Part of the joy of being on holidays is not having to do the daily mundane chores, so access to room service can be delightful especially if you arrive late in the night or want a lazy morning. We have also found it useful when we have needed milk to put the baby to bed – instead of running out and trying to find the closest convenience store we can simply pick up the phone. But we have spent many mornings mixing porridge in a glass cup and trying to entice the baby to sit nicely on the floor to eat her breakfast … it generally ends up everywhere! In the AirBNB, you will most likely find a fully equipped kitchen and whilst it means you might do some cooking, we have found it extremely useful with the little one. A decent size fridge for food, a kettle to warm and sterilize things and even a high chair in one of our recent apartments which made life very easy.
Hotels will offer a daily turn down service with fresh sheets and towels, providing that true holiday feeling. In an AirBNB it is very unlikely that the accommodation will be cleaned on a daily basis however, when we have stayed for a couple of weeks, a cleaner has visited weekly to keep everything in order. One big benefit of an AirBNB when a baby is involved is that they might have a washing machine making life much easier with little ones whom are notorious for using several outfits a day. Check with your host before booking!
Most hotels will have a concierge and staff at hand to assist with any queries or issues. Its easy to call down from your room or stop by at the front desk on your way out to ask a question. With an AirBNB we have found in most situations that the hosts do not meet us. They have a friend or company contracted to let you into the property, show you around and hand over the keys. In some instances the keys have even been in a lock box attached to a lamp post at the front of the apartment block! But then there was that time in New York when our hosts treated us to a fabulous lunch at a nearby restaurant and listed off all the celebrities whom lived close by and where to look out for them. The AirBNB hosts are always available via text or phone, so it just depends what level of interaction you would prefer.
Hotels vary greatly in the facilities that they offer, but you could have access to a spa, gym, pool or club room during your stay. And depending on the type of hotel you choose, some even have baby clubs with qualified nannies and baby sitting services available. These options seem to be popular in family friendly destinations and it is worth keeping in mind when choosing your destination and looking for hotels. In my experience, AirBNBs have very little facilities to offer and that is probably due to the fact that the original concept for AirBNB was people letting out their homes to travelers as opposed to competing directly with hotels. If you are going on a city break and will be out and about the entire time, you may not want to pay the price tag for a hotel with a pool and gym which you will not use.
I would generally say that an AirBNB will be cheaper than a hotel in any given destination. Or if they are the same price, then per square meter you get a lot more for your money in an AirBNB compared to a hotel. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and I interchange what accommodation I book depending on the trip. The only thing I will say is that an AirBNB has to be paid upfront (or at least half of it) and the cancellation policies are often quite strict (dependent on what the host chooses), so if you have to change your plans last minute you may not have a right to a refund. Bigger hotels can be much more lenient and it may be a better option for families travelling with a baby and young children.
So there are my thoughts on an AirBNB vs hotel with a baby. I would love to hear your thoughts and accommodation preferences when travelling with a baby or toddler. Leave a comment below or send me an email. And if you are looking for some travel inspiration, why not check out ‘Family Travel Diary | Paris with Kids‘ or ‘6 Reasons you should fly Business Class with your Baby‘. Safe travels – Shell x