Hotels Versus Home Rentals – Which is Better?

Hotels Versus Home Rentals - Which is Better?

We have rented houses and apartments in the past — you may remember our weekend in Big Bear or our trip to Baja — and I have had great things to say about those experiences.

However, I think apartment and home rentals have their place. They can be great for longer stays or trips with large groups, but they are not always ideal for short stays, where you have a tight schedule or don’t want to be bothered with inconveniences.


Hotels Versus Home Rentals – Which is Better?


Hotels Versus Home Rentals - Which is Better?

We just returned from a conference in Toronto, where we decided to rent an apartment near the harbor. We thought, “This will be nice; we can explore the city like a local and have our own space, away from the conference.”

Well, we definitely experienced the city like the locals, but not exactly how we had hoped.

We arrived on Friday night — after a very long and early travel day from the West Coast — and took four different bus/metro transfers from the airport to the apartment complex. Once we arrived, all we wanted to do was set down our bags, take a shower and grab a quick bite to eat before an early morning.

We requested the key from the security guard, just as the apartment owner had instructed.

He seemed confused.

“I don’t see your name on the list, so I cannot authorize a key for you.” He said.

I showed the guard numerous emails from the apartment owner, including the instructions to pick up the key.

“Well, I just saw her earlier today and she didn’t mention anything about someone staying in her apartment.”

The security guard proceeded to call management, asking if they were aware of the tenant renting out her apartment. He hung up the phone and gave us the bad news.

“Management won’t allow access unless we speak to the apartment owner.”

Easy enough, right? We can just call her.


Apparently she was on a plane and couldn’t be reached.

After about thirty minutes of trying to figure out what to do, they offered to hold our bags while we walked to a restaurant for some much-needed food (and a few pints of beer!)

We didn’t want to turn on our cell phones because we were traveling internationally– and the trip was so short that it didn’t make sense to get a local SIM card — so we spent the next two hours awaiting our fate, unsure if the security office would be able to get in touch with the apartment owner.

We arrived back at around 11 pm and were ecstatic to learn that we did indeed have a place to sleep that night, but we found ourselves wishing we had just booked a hotel for the weekend.

Hotels Versus Home Rentals - Which is Better?

The rest of the weekend wasn’t exactly perfect either. The hot water heater broke on Sunday and we were left with ice-cold showers that morning.

I’m not implying that hotels are perfect for every situation, but these types of things are less likely to happen in a hotel. Not to mention, hotels have maid service, room service, and other amenities to make travel easier. If I wanted to do dishes, sweep floors, and change the bedding, I would just stay home.

We go on trips to relax and get away from daily chores.

Hotels Versus Home Rentals - Which is Better?

When we stayed at the Four Seasons in Lana’i, they provided everything. Did you forget sunblock? No problem; they have complimentary bottles by the pool. Did you run out of toothpaste? No need to run to the store, the staff will bring you complimentary travel-size tubes.

There are definitely house rentals that provide more luxurious services, like the one my family recently booked in Puerto Vallarta. They provide daily maid service, cooks, and maintenance personnel available to fix any problems 24 hours a day. In other words, we had four star hotel service, but with the privacy of our own house.

Hotels Versus Home Rentals - Which is Better?

Obviously, not all apartment rentals are created equal — and we are perfectly aware that travel comes with unexpected surprises — but for some trips, hotels just make more sense.

Do you prefer hotels or house/apartment rentals while traveling?



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  1. Nancy Davolio says:

    An amazing place with such natural delights. I will surely
    plan my upcoming vacation to this place. thanks for posting nice views.

  2. We did a lot of apartments on our summer travels. In general the apartments were much better than the hotels we stayed in. Any problems I could mention about an apartment we also had with a different hotel. Far from the center? Yup. Bad beds? Double yep. We are still going forward with the idea that for longer term stays apartments are the way for us. The idea of having to coordinate with the owner does bring troubles, but can also be benificial. We were able to check out of a place at 4pm for one apartment. No Hotel would have allowed that.

  3. Rease Kirchner says:

    i definitely agree that they make more sense for large groups and/or long stays. They are especially good if you plan to save money by cooking, though again, that’s really a long stay sort of thing. I have only rented an apartment once, for a week in NYC. I’d say overall it was much better for us than a hotel, but when the owner rented it out the day we were leaving, he kicked us out at 9am instead of the agreed upon midday. Luckily, his super who lived upstairs offered to hold our bags for us since our flight wasn’t until 6pm.

  4. Dipika Kohli says:

    I’m thinking about this right now! Am in Hanoi for an open-format sort of plan. After eight weeks in Viet Nam so far I want to see one place and get to know it a bit. But I’m not sure what to do about rentals vs. hotels, so I clicked over 🙂 I’m a big fan of hotels, to be honest. I love the smaller ones the most, I’ve learned about myself these weeks, because you feel like you’re coming to a place where people greet you and ask about you. I’m with my 4yo, too, so some familiarity is good when we “park” for a bit sometimes. I also like not having to cook breakfast. But the moving around has been a little awkward, and I’m considering the other option (but not really. I hate committing to more than 7 days at a time). Thoughts about Hanoi? 🙂

  5. Ariel Body says:

    Hotels are so dull and adventure-less, though! For me, the joy comes in not knowing what to expect and embracing the uniqueness and adventure along the way! (eg, it’s far more exciting to try and figure out how to say ‘toothpaste’ in the local language, than to have it delivered poolside… where’s the adventure in that?) And on that note, I think camping trumps both! 😉 I suppose therein lies the difference in travel styles, though….

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Hotels don’t have to be dull and adventure-less! It’s what you make of it. We get lots of adventure in our daily activities, so sometimes a little pampering is exactly what we need once we get back to our accommodation. We like to have the best of both worlds. 🙂 And we definitely love camping… as long as we are not going to a conference the next day. 😉