23rd Jun 2017
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Is Booking.com better than Airbnb?
Author: SJ Fallick
hand holding phone with airbnb app on screen

SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices. Her plane essentials include noise-cancelling headphones, a solid Spotify playlist, sleeping tablets, an eyemask and a large scarf that doubles as a blanket on cold flights – i.e. every night.

Airbnb. It’s all the rage at the moment with many travellers shunning traditional accommodation to stay in someone else’s home instead. While I’m all for collaboration and their ads are nothing short of brilliant, pulling at the heartstrings and playing the ‘live like a local card’, I still think Booking.com is a better choice.

I should start by saying I have stayed in an Airbnb apartment before. It was in Copenhagen and was nothing short of incredible. For the very reasonable price we paid, we arrived late one Friday night to an extremely modern, clean, corner apartment complete with a moose head mounted on the living room wall. It had high ceilings, floorboards, beds that went up and down so you could sleep in an array of angles and sparkling water on tap.

But getting said accommodation wasn’t so straightforward. At 3pm the day before we had nowhere to stay as the majority of hosts we had contacted had not responded. In the end we had to do a specific search for properties that accepted instant bookings. And the cons don’t stop there. I have heard nightmare stories ranging from people not being able to get into their Airbnb accommodation, to arriving and discovering they’ve been double booked and, the most recent, a 40 euro surcharge to have the key dropped off.

While the majority of the stories you hear have some resolution in the end, these aren’t the situations you want to be faced with after hours of travelling.

hand holding phone with airbnb on screen

My main qualm with Airbnb, though, is that you have to pay upfront and this puts the  traveller in a more vulnerable position. Apart from needing to have the accommodation money in advance, if something goes wrong, your cash is tied up until the situation is resolved, leaving you to have to stump up the cash for an alternate booking.

As someone who travels at least once a month, Booking.com is my first preference. Not only does it have a range of accommodation types, but you can filter your options to ‘no prepayment’ so you don’t have to pay anything upfront. This allows you to lock in a good rate and, so long as you also filter to ‘free cancellation’, you usually have until 24 hours or so before your stay to cancel the booking without penalty.

You can even book a few different options and cancel the ones you don’t want closer to the date. But be mindful that some hotels and apartments can be small businesses and, therefore, you should give them as much notice as possible. Booking accommodation this way gives you a level of flexibility that many other methods can’t. Don’t forget to diarise by when your bookings need to be cancelled or you may end up with a nasty shock!

How do you book your accommodation? Are you an Airbnb fan or do you prefer traditional hotel or booking platforms?

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    COMMENTS

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    Eddy
    24th Jun 2017
    11:17am
    I prefer Booking.com (and will use one of the other on-line booking sites), but I have never used AirBnB. I have stayed at B&B when touring in Oz, UK and NZ (mainly as I did not want to be tied to being at a particular place by a particular time) and I have found them to range from fabulous to places which would not come up to the standard of a decent boarding kennel (when you are tired and haven't booked ahead you have to take what you can get, but that's my choice). As for price my experience is that most B&B are comparable to a decent (say 3 star) hotel/motel, so B&B have no significant price advantage. Would I use AirBnB, maybe, I am not against the concept just haven't had the need yet.
    MICK
    24th Jun 2017
    11:52am
    I never use Booking.com or any of the American owned companies any more. To start with many are owned by the same company. Second the deals are not worth even looking at. The last straw was when we got what we considered a reasonably priced room at the Giacomo in Niagara Falls. When we arrived we got a dodgy room where you could hear water flowing 24 hours a day.
    These days we use Airbnb, VRBO and any other website which matches private investors with people wanting accommodation. Despite a couple of mistakes staying in a room in somebody's house this has worked well and is quite cheap.
    Who would ever want to book a hotel when you get self contained at a quarter of the price? Eating out is very costly and many travellers never take this into account when booking a hotel. Also some private rentals are priceless.
    Mamashaz
    25th Jun 2017
    6:03am
    I have used both. Airbnb I took cautiously but my 2 experiences have been great. The first was a room in a unit with a mother and teenage son. We got along well and she was very helpful. The 2nd was an apartment with several rooms that were all let out. Everyone was quiet. Both were considerably cheaper than I could find elsewhere.
    I have been using online booking services like booking.com for years and I have had a mixed bag of experiences. The last one a place I thought the cockroaches may well have been risking their lives entering. Warning do not book anything that says 'red doors' I took photos and intended to give my first 'this place is appalling' review. Unfortunately I couldn't get through to do this. I gave up after several tries over a few days. I have also directly contacted a couple of the hotels offering specials on sites and have gotten the same price with an extra included. Everything in life is a risk and an experience. I think these services are both worth using and I intend to use both again in the future bypassing anything that says 'red doors' though


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