If you’re travelling as a couple or two friends in Europe, then two of the most common options for budget accommodation are Airbnb and Booking.com. Both sites provide travellers with different experiences and unique advantages when it comes to finding a fantastic place to stay. We firmly believe that both options have their time and place and we’ve created this guide to help you understand which option you should choose in the battle between Airbnb vs Booking.com for your upcoming trip to Europe!
The Pros of Using Airbnb in Europe
1. Airbnb is typically the most affordable option
If your decision on whether to use Airbnb or Booking.com is primarily based on cost, then you will nearly always get better value for money by finding a place on Airbnb. This is especially true in major European cities, where you can find affordable places to stay in a prime location while many budget hotels will be on the outskirts of town. We’ve used Airbnb in many expensive places such as Reykjavik and Copenhagen which has made our trips much more affordable!
2. You meet locals and get great recommendations
How many times have you stayed in a budget hotel and gotten good recommendations about places to eat? Chances are they’re sending you to the restaurant in their lobby or somewhere across the road! This definitely isn’t the case with Airbnb as many hosts are long-term residents of the city that you’re visiting and have an excellent knowledge of things to do and places to visit. Furthermore, we generally find that many hosts are very hospitable and we often end up having a cup of tea or coffee with them during our stay and getting to know them!
3. You usually get access to common facilities
One of the great things about staying in a private room in an Airbnb is that you will often get access to common facilities such as their kitchen and laundry. This is great if you’re travelling on a budget as it allows you to cook your own meals (rather than eating out all the time) and wash your clothes without paying a premium surcharge that hotels often charge. In some places, common facilities can be even more awesome – our Airbnb in Gozo had an amazing balcony with brilliant views of the surrounding countryside!
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The Pros of Using Booking.com in Europe
1. For many places, you don’t need to pay in advance
One of the big disadvantages of Airbnb is that you have to pay the full amount of your stay when booking. This can mean you’re paying for accommodation months before you use it and you are only eligible for a refund if the host allows it in their booking policy. On the contrary, many hotels on Booking.com don’t require upfront payment meaning you can book accommodation without paying a cent!
2. You can get great deals if you book in advance
Whilst Airbnb is usually the cheaper option, you can often get some amazing deals on Booking.com if you book in advance. Many budget hotels are significantly discounted which is quite different to Airbnb where there are never explicit sales on accommodation. You can even get great deals if you’re booking within a shorter timeframe but are not travelling during a peak period. During our time in Bulgaria, we got a great deal on a really nice boutique hotel because we were staying mid-week rather than on the busier weekends!
3. Booking.com requires minimal effort
One of the nice things about booking a hotel through Booking.com is that once the booking is done, there’s little you need to do before arriving. This is unlike Airbnb, where you need to contact your host, make sure that they’ll be home when you arrive and possibly get specific instructions about how to get to their property. Sometimes, particularly after a long flight, it’s nice not to have to worry about any of that and simply be able to check into a room with minimal hassle.
Read enough and decided that Booking.com wins in the battle of Airbnb vs Booking com? Then, click here to find a place to stay for your upcoming trip on Booking.com!
Alternatively, if you’re thinking of hosting your flat or house with Booking.com, then click here to list your property and get your first 5 bookings commission free!
The Cons of Using Airbnb in Europe
1. You need to be flexible as a guest
One of the most important things to remember when using Airbnb as a guest is that it’s not the same as a hotel so you need to be flexible sometimes. Check-in hours might be restricted or if something breaks down, it might not be possible to fix it straight away. If these sort of things bother you then it’s probably best to book a hotel however in our experience these minor inconveniences would never be enough to stop us from using Airbnb!
2. Staying in an Airbnb has an element of risk
While we’ve never had any issues using Airbnb in Europe, you do occasionally hear newspapers reporting horror stories about travellers’ experiences with Airbnb. There is always going to be a small element of risk when staying in somebody else’s house, however, this can easily be avoided with some basic research.
We always stay with people that have had their profiles verified and have at least at a couple of positive reviews. Also, always make sure to research the neighbourhood of the Airbnb before booking to make sure it’s appropriate for your stay – you don’t want to end up in party central if you’re after a quiet weekend away!
3. In some cities, private Airbnbs are causing housing affordability issues
One of the main issues that travellers have with Airbnb is that in certain cities it’s causing housing affordability issues as landlords are listing their apartments on Airbnb rather than renting them to long-term local tenants. This means that in certain cities such as Berlin, governments are cracking down and banning short-term rentals of whole apartments on Airbnb.
You need to be careful if choosing to book in larger cities as whole apartments might be listed illegally and could be shut down before you arrive. While some travel websites, suggest avoiding whole apartments on Airbnb, we still use them in less visited cities, particularly in Eastern Europe, where there can often be an oversupply of rental properties!
The Cons of Using Booking.com in Europe
1. Budget hotels in Europe can often be sterile and less spacious
One of the problems with using Booking.com is that if you’re on a budget a lot of the places tend to be less spacious and often sterile and lacking in character. One of the things we love about using Airbnb is that every place is unique and has a homely atmosphere which is quite a contrast to many budget hotels which will usually have quite a similar feel to each other.
2. Budget hotels in Europe are usually poorly located
Another issue with budget hotels in Europe is that they are often not located in the neighbourhoods that you want to stay in. When booking accommodation, one of the most important considerations is ensuring we’re centrally located and can easily get around. The cost of being in the centre of town, ultimately means that many budget hotels are located further away from the city centre and this means that it will take longer to get around and you will probably pay more for transportation during your stay.
3. Booking.com is nearly always more expensive than Airbnb
At the end of the day, when we’re travelling, we tend to be out and about exploring for most of the day so we don’t want to spend excess money on accommodation when we’re barely there. That means we’re always looking for the most budget-friendly room that is well located and clean. In nearly all places that we’ve visited, if Booking.com is consistently more expensive than Airbnb.
Airbnb vs Booking.com: The Verdict
If you’re deciding whether to use Airbnb or Booking.com for your upcoming trip then it’s important to consider what’s important for you.
If you’re on a budget, value meeting locals and getting their recommendations and having access to additional facilities then we’d recommend finding an Airbnb for your upcoming trip. If you haven’t used Airbnb before, then click here to get up to $40 off your first stay!
If you value flexibility, convenience or are simply travelling to a place with limited private apartments then we recommend booking accommodation on Booking.com. We suggest not leaving it until last minute as you can find great bargains if you book in advance. Click here to find a place to stay for your upcoming trip on Booking.com!
Do you prefer to use Airbnb or Booking.com? What are the pros and cons of using each? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!