Like many of you I had money left in my travel budget this year. I’ve spent a lot less money overall in 2020, and in some ways that’s a good thing. It’s good for savings, certainly. For a bit of a change of scenery I booked a house on the Texas beach, a few hours’ drive from home outside of Corpus Christi.
The weather in Texas in December can be a bit unpredictable but things worked out well with highs in the low 70s. It was great for sitting outside on the water, walking along the beach, and playing with my two year old in the sand. We weren’t in swimsuits, and didn’t spend time in the water but all in all a nice change of pace. And it was all possible without any close contacts outside my own household for the entire four days we were gone.
For this trip I booked a three bedroom home right on the beach through Airbnb. At $400 per night I’ve only spent this much on lodging once before. But as I say, my travel spend for the year was low and my desire for a change of scenery high.
The home was in a small development that reminded me of Art Deco Miami without the architectural significance. Lots of similar colors, all the homes showing wear from proximity to the water.
But we had a deck, we had a kitchen, and though Airbnb has its cleanliness standards the first thing we did was disinfect high touch areas ourselves.
Overall it was exactly the stay I was looking for, and Airbnb was the right option for booking something in this location where there aren’t nice chain resorts where I could spend points and where other homesharing sites lacked the same beachfront inventory at the price for a similar home. At the same time the Airbnb experience left me frustrated in many ways.
- The actual cost was 50% higher than the sum of the nightly rates. While resort fees at hotels in Las Vegas can do the same thing during the week, it’s still shocking to see the price jump due to booking fees, cleaning fees, etc. (Most hotels include housekeeping in the room rate, even if Marriott pushes you to tip housekeepers and some hotels weren’t doing daily housekeeping even before the pandemic).
- 5 p.m. check-in and 10 a.m. checkout is ridiculous. It doesn’t take a hotel 7 hours to turn a room.
- No late check-out. The owner’s outsourced representative proactive emails they’ll let you know day-of if early check-in or late check-out is available, I got emails on the day of check-in and day of check-out denying both. Presumably the property was booked until my day of arrival and someone else was checking in right after my departure. Hotels, with more inventory, can more easily offer this.
- Take out your own trash or get fined a $50 fine for not taking your trash to the complex’s bin blocks away was not included in the property listing but was reinforced multiple times over email.
- Contactless check-in was a plus. I was emailed a door code to use for my stay, so entry was keyless. Hotels are moving to keyless but Marriott allowed owners to delay this investment during the pandemic.
- The property needed care. Hotels have maintenance on staff, though the median domestic Sheraton may not have always gotten what was needed. This home badly needed paint on the interior and work on the base boards and door frames. There was mold around the showers and hair in the shower drains. The towels in the master bathroom were stained.
- Airbnb worked out better than Marriott’s homesharing site The home I booked was in the perfect spot. Marriott had a home in the same community for just a few dollars more that wasn’t right on the beach (but still an easy walk). I would have rather taken advantage of a Marriott promo and earned points, but Airbnb’s option was better.
With Airbnb I always have the worry of a host cancelling and then you’re stuck. Hotels walk guests but they have many rooms versus only one usually booked with a host. And when a host does cancel, I’ve only read horror stories, Airbnb offering to find options out of its own limited inventory at your expense along with a small goodwill credit towards a future stay. That’s not helpful at all in peak times when inventory is sparse at best.
How have your Airbnb experiences been, and how do they compare to hotels? Would you consider renting a home or condo instead of a hotel, and if so why?