5 Cities Where Airbnb Is Way Cheaper Than a Hotel


Since it was first founded in 2008, Airbnb has become a household name, nearly synonymous with the concept of short-term rentals. According to their website, Airbnb properties are available in more than 34,000 cities in over 190 countries, with 60 million users. This can be a great way to save on accommodations while traveling. (See also: 3 Easy Ways to Get Hotel Deals)

By offering accommodation in locals' homes and apartments, Airbnb is often able to offer lower rates than traditional hotels, sometimes at unique properties or with added perks (like full kitchens). For solo travelers, renting a room with Airbnb can also be a great way to get to know a local host.

However, you'll be giving up some hotel conveniences, too. Airbnb isn't for everyone. But if you're willing to forego hotel gyms and professional staff, here are five destinations where Airbnb is much more cost effective than a hotel.

European Destinations

In 2015, more than half of Airbnb's revenue was generated from its European listings. This is an important clue to consumers, as some of the best deals to be had are in expensive European capitals where Airbnb is doing some of its best business.

1. London

London is full of tourist sights that any traveler would be excited to see. This capital city is home to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and many diverse national museums. However, London is also one of the most expensive destinations for international travelers.

Even budget options in London can be pricey, with hostel dorm rooms often upward of $20 a night for a bed in a room with eight to 10 other people. Needless to say, many travelers don't want to stay in those conditions, but to book a four- or five-star hotel in the city center costs $250 and up.

According to a 2015 study by Busbud, Airbnb listings were $108 a night cheaper than hotels, making London one of the best destinations to consider saving with Airbnb.

2. Venice

Venice is another European destination you won't want to miss, but hotels here are notoriously expensive, averaging just over $230 a night according to the Busbud study. However, by booking with Airbnb travelers were able to save an average of $86.

There are plenty of good ways you can put these savings to use while out enjoying the area. Be sure not to miss a trip out to Burano and Murano, small islands a short gondola ride away from Venice, known for glass working and artisanal lace production.

3. Paris

Airbnb's rapid growth in Paris was reported by The Wall Street Journal in 2015, with the city continuing to be a hub of Airbnb activity to this day. Paris has more than 55,000 listings that get a great deal of traffic from visitors, according to Inside Airbnb.

Given that consumers can save more than $100 on average by booking with Airbnb, it's no surprise that the company has had such great success in Paris, a city with a reputation for being expensive.

In the U.S.

Airbnb can be an affordable alternative to hotels in the U.S., too. In fact, in 2013, a comparative study by Priceonomics found that, on average, to rent an entire apartment in the U.S. with Airbnb was 21% cheaper than paying for a hotel, while renting a single room with Airbnb was half the price of a hotel.

Since 2013, the cost of hotels has only been rising, from an average of $110 to $120 in 2015. Given that Airbnb has been gaining traction considerably in the past few years, consumers in the U.S. now have more options than ever before.

It is important to remember, however, that these are national averages. Every city varies a little and of course, some cities are more Airbnb-friendly than others. As with the European examples, it seems that in more expensive cities, consumers stand to save more from booking with Airbnb.

4. New York

New York received an estimated 58 million tourists in 2015, making it one of the biggest tourist destinations globally. From bustling Times Square, to Broadway, to Wall Street, to Ellis Island, to its wide array of unique parks and museums, there is no shortage of sights and entertainment for visitors.

Plus, New York has the Airbnb listings to match. There's a whole array of options in many diverse neighborhoods. A quick search I made on Airbnb showed the average cost of accommodations was $142, factoring in all options, from a shared room to an entire apartment.

Keep in mind that rates also depend on location, location, location.

5. Seattle

Seattle has the advantage of being a good-sized city, while also offering access to beautiful coastlines and nearby mountains. As Washington state's largest city, it attracts a fair amount of both domestic and international visitors.

The average cost of a hotel room here in 2015 was $209, according to Statista, making it one of the more costly cities in the U.S. Those looking to book with Airbnb stand to save more than $80 on their reservation.

Places to Avoid Using Airbnb

While these five cities offer a great value on their Airbnb listings, there are also some places you don't want to use Airbnb. Barcelona, for instance, will cost you $140 more on average to book via Airbnb as opposed to a hotel.

In the U.S., Austin (home of Airbnb competitor HomeAway) is a much more expensive place to stay with Airbnb, while Los Angeles comes out just about even. Using credit card reward programs for hotels can make hotels even more attractive than Airbnb in some places.

Airbnb can offer great value in notoriously expensive cities both in the U.S. and in Europe, but that doesn't mean it's always a great deal. Check out your destination before you book to be sure you're getting the best value.

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