Hotels vs. Vacation Rentals: Which is Better?

Written By Emily Jones
Last updated January 9, 2020

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November 15, 2016

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When I travel I often wonder what the better financial choice is, hotels or vacation rentals? With the holidays fast approaching it’s important to get the most out of your travel budget. So what is the smarter travel choice? When trying to decide what type of accommodations to book it is important to take a few things into consideration.

The length of your trip is a good determinant for the type of lodging you choose to book. If you plan to stay for more than four days, a vacation rental has the ability to save you a good amount of money. Most if not all vacation rentals have a minimum stay ranging anywhere from two nights to a week. If your travel plans call for a shorter stay, booking a hotel is a smarter option.

Looking to book accommodations for a last-minute weekend getaway? You can save money on both vacation rentals and hotels, it just depends on how much effort you want to put in. Most vacation rental owners do not want their rental sitting empty, which is great news for travelers. If you have the time and patience you can easily score a last-minute deal. Just email various rental owners and offer a price you are willing to pay; many times you will save big. If you don’t have the time to negotiate, a hotel may be a better choice for you. Last Minute Travel is great money-saving site when looking for that hotel.

Where you are vacationing also plays a role in what type of accommodation to book. A ski vacation most likely calls for a vacation rental, hotels are typically at a minimum and ski cabins are abundant. Some cities and resort towns have a significant supply of hotels to choose from, therefore more competition, which means lower prices. However, a vacation rental might a better choice for you if you are looking to stay in a specific neighborhood or town.

  • Vacation rentals have kitchens, which means you have the option of eating in. Even if it’s only one meal a day those savings can add up over a week-long vacation.
  • If you are traveling with a large group, sharing the cost of a vacation rental ends to be much more inexpensive then multiple hotel rooms.
  • Many times guests will get a break in price when staying at least a week. Typically owners will give guests the seventh night free or cut the nightly rate down.
  • You may be able to get a better deal when traveling last-minute.
  • Hotels tend to be more convenient with a concierge, room service and housekeeping.
  • Typically hotels are situated in tourist areas, which can be helpful when getting around to sightsee.

So when it does come to time to book your vacation, what are the best travel sites to use? We break down our favorites below.

Priceline, is a great deal-finding site. With a large inventory of hotels and a name your own price option, this travel site is a wonderful booking choice.

Last Minute Travel is the perfect site to book those last-minute weekend getaways.

In terms of vacation rentals, there are a few sites to choose from. When booking your vacation rental make sure your site is verified and takes credit card payments. This way you will be covered by the vacation rental site and your credit card company.

HomeAway provides prospective vacationers with almost 600,000 vacation rentals to choose from.

VRBO is one of the top sites to use when renting a vacation home. This site has a great filter system and allows users to search by all the amenities.

So what is better? It all depends on your vacation style, timing and length of stay. There are deals to be had with both so get traveling!

About the Author

Emily Jones

Emily Jones has been writing for personal finance blogs for over 5 years. Her specific interests include, budget travel, living well on a budget, and deal finding. While in graduate school Emily was forced to find creative ways to be able to afford to travel. Now that she has a family, her affection for travel and shopping continue, but on a very tight budget. Emily enjoys sharing her deal finding tricks with her readers.

  • Thanks for mentioning how long you’re staying is good determination of your lodging needs such as a vacation rental for longer stays or a hotel for something shorter. I’m thinking of looking for a rental house because my wife and I are considering taking our family on an extended holiday to somewhere by the ocean. It seems like a good idea to consider staying at a reputable establishment that can accommodate our length of vacation.

  • In my opinion, I think I should look for a vacation rental service because the length of stay that I’ll be spending on my vacation will be longer than I originally planned, so staying at a hotel would make things pricy for me. In addition to that, the location of the hotel is rather far away from the convention that I’m supposed to go to. I’m travelling with a large group, so thanks for telling me that we’ll be able to save money if we stay in a vacation rental.

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