kitchen fireplaceHow do you choose where to stay when you travel? I have some criteria to help you decide:

—Food: do you have limited interest in restaurants and prefer to eat some meals in? Or do you like room service, or the convenience of going downstairs to an excellent hotel restaurant?

Answer: please eat out in France! You can cook at home! But yes, eating out for every meal makes the pocketbook get thin and the waistline get wide.

Do you always miss the hotel breakfast hours? Then AirBnB. You have what you want for breakfast, when you want it.

Otherwise, it can be convenient to have breakfast in the hotel and then head out for the day. Breakfast at a café may cost more than the hotel—it depends on how fancy the hotel is—but going out and picking up croissants to have at your AirBnB with coffee you made yourself will definitely cost less. Plus, some hotel breakfasts consist of one croissant and half a baguette with butter and jam; maybe you want TWO croissants and no baguette! Or pain au chocolate (but call it a chocolatine down here). Or maybe you want eggs. 

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The photos here are from our AirBnB, L’ancienne Tannerie.

—Independence: do you know where you’re going? Are you OK making reservations? Can you figure things out? Can you call a cab or Uber? 

If so, then you’re fine with AirBnB. As AirBnB hosts, we’re always happy to make recommendations or even call for dinner reservations for guests who ask. But we, like many hosts, aren’t at a 24-hour desk on site. If you want help—getting taxis, asking directions, getting recommendations, then hotel. Of course, there are AirBnBs where you stay in a bedroom in somebody’s home and the host is there. But that is too much sharing for me. 

—Length of stay: are you traveling for a month, in which case few people can stand to eat three meals a day in a restaurant? Also, you would need to do laundry, which can be pricey at a hotel. 

If yes, then AirBnB. Otherwise, if you’re in a place for a short time, either AirBnB or a hotel is fine.SONY DSC—Size of the traveling group: Are you traveling with family, friends or solo?

Do you have kids with you? Then AirBnB. Before it was created, we traveled to New York with our kid, who was then in a stroller. We were on a budget and stayed in a hotel where the room was only slightly larger than the bed; hotels with suites were crazy expensive. Our kid slept between us. But at that age, they go to bed at about 7 or 8 p.m., so that meant I had to go to bed at 7 or 8 p.m. There was no option to sit up and read—the room was too small. I am not the kind of parent who would wait for my kid to fall asleep and then sneak out to the lobby for a nightcap. When AirBnB started, we tried it out on another trip to New York, staying in a brownstone in Park Slope. Our kid had a separate bedroom. We could sit and have a glass of wine and read over things to do for the next day. Perfect. SONY DSCTraveling solo is the opposite. When I lived in Brussels, a colleague in Paris had offered his apartment on weekends when he was at his country place. I took him up on the offer a couple of times a month. I loved it. However, a few times I trekked across Paris, long after the last metro and unable to find a taxi, and I thought, nobody will know if I don’t make it, not until Monday when I don’t show up at work. 

A hotel with 24-hour desk staff means someone is checking on you. Also, if you’re traveling for a long period, it’s nice to have people to chat with—usually hotel staff are very friendly and full of suggestions.

Traveling with friends or a bigger family group can go either way. It can be nice to have separate rooms to get a little alone time, which can work with a hotel or a large AirBnB. It also can be nice to have a central gathering spot–a hotel with a good lobby or the living room or kitchen of a rental apartment.SONY DSC—Privacy and Walter Mitty factor: Do you put the “do not disturb” tag on the door because having to put your stuff away even a minimum irks you more than the great pleasure of somebody else making your bed? If so, AirBnB. 

Do you want to pretend you’re a local, to feel like you’re coming home, to get comfortable? If so, AirBnB.

I understand that someone who has never traveled abroad might opt for a tour where everything is taken care of, and if that’s what they need to go see the world, then better a tour than not traveling. 

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Taste of Minervois, a food and wine festival. A great way to participate in local culture.

To me, travel is about immersing myself in a new place, thinking about how the people live. I love museums and architecture and am happy to walk the streets, soaking in the atmosphere of a foreign place. But I also love figuring things out, talking to locals, and pretending to be one. I used to go to tango dances in whatever city I was visiting, and they were a great way to slip into the local scene, to discover hidden venues, sometimes in unlikely suburban locations. 

Much of the fun comes from getting outside your comfort zone (believe me, I was nervous walking solo into some tango clubs—I remember a basement dancehall in Madrid, a former warehouse in Amsterdam, a garden with a live band in the Olympic Village neighborhood of Rome). There are other ways to get outside your comfort zone, all completely safe. Grocery shopping can be perplexing in a foreign place, but it’s far from dangerous. The worst that can happen is you buy something and don’t like the taste. The best that can happen is you start a conversation with the grocer or another shopper and, in a combination of who knows what languages plus mime, they help you discover some great local delicacy. fireplace-boiserieIf you want to explore the south of France, the “other south of France” that is still authentic and not all polished and plastic, then consider Carcassonne, and do check out our rental apartments. They are the same size, each about 900+ square feet/85 square meters. L’ancienne Tannerie, in addition to a generous bedroom, has a tiny bedroom with a twin bed plus a sofabed, so it sleeps up to five people (plus it has a sauna! and a huge kitchen). La Suite Barbès has a ridiculously huge bedroom (380 square feet/35 square meters). Both have chandeliers dripping with crystals and antique furnishings and marble fireplaces and elaborate moldings and 13-foot/four meter ceilings.SONY DSCLastly, if you choose AirBnB, please book one that is paying its taxes. Undeclared rentals hurt cities by depriving them of tax revenue. They hurt the legitimate hosts who do pay taxes. They hurt the hotel industry, which employs lots of people. They may hurt you, because they haven’t been inspected. AirBnB is supposed to start reporting the total rental income for listings in France, but that won’t happen until next year.

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Your guaranty of quality.

So are you Team Hotel or Team AirBnB? Or do you switch, depending on your trip?

34 thoughts on “Hotel or AirBnB?

  1. Once you have rented an apartment in France, it is very hard to go back to a hotel room! My husband’s “job” in the morning is to go out to the boulangerie for baguette/croissants while I prep the coffee. We linger over breakfast while planning our day. Another plus, is the ability to buy what you want (roast chicken! paella!) at the local outdoor market, eating it at your own table, and storing any leftovers in your fridge. The entire experience is so much more relaxed when you don’t have to vacate your space for the cleaning staff to come in daily, and you have room to breathe. Your apartments are absolutely gorgeous!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like both and typically our choice depends upon how long we are visiting the city and what the plans are, if we have other people with us, is it for business, pleasure, are their relatives in town, etc. I do not really care too much about food, let me amend that I only care about the bakeries/patesseries and where I can have my morning cup of chocolat aside from that I will go where the other people want to go. My priority is safety, especially while alone and location. I love to walk and will happily walk everywhere just so that I can explore and see the hidden gems of each pace I visit. I like to wander in an out of museums, visit shops and grocery stores to check out the food and try new things.

    Should I find myself in “the other south of France” and I am hoping to on one of my next trips to France I will definitely stay in your AirBNB!

    Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, safety is important, and there are bad neighborhoods in any city but I have to say I have never had a problem in Europe…except in Barcelona, but that was one time and it didn’t stop me from returning many times.
      I hope you get to come! In the meantime, stay warm.

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  3. We use both, depending on where we are and how long we are staying. However, in general, we prefer AirBnB, especially in France. We like the freedom and flexibility, particularly if you rent an AirBnB flat, and we have met some fabulous hosts!

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  4. What a great (and timely for me) post! My husband and I are discussing a trip to Europe this year. He wants to “live like a local” and not feel like a tourist. We have family in Germany and London, and friends elsewhere in England, Paris and Barcelona. But I’ve a hankering for a farmhouse in Tuscany…such problems, eh? Stayed a night in Carcassonne on a school trip in 1976 and still have fond memories. I will definately put your apartments on our list. I also liked what you have to say about AirBnB and the legality/ethics of it all. I’ve read much about how the trend is forcing out residents of historic cities like Venice and changing demographics, but short-term rentals are just too perfect for so many of us.
    Keep up the great work!

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  5. NEVER done AIRB&B.
    I do like a hotel as there is always someone at front desk if an emergency arises…….
    I also like PEOPLE WATCHING A LOT!
    I would do an AIRB&B if I had time and was there say for a month!But my travel is pretty short due to THAT ITALIAN and FURRY BOYS AT HOME!
    THE ITALIAN DOES NOT TAKE VACATION!!!!!
    Headed for a hotel TODAY………wish me luck as I’m NOT feeling up to SNUFF.
    BUT I CANNOT MISS MY SECOND HOLLYWOOD PARTY!!!!!!!!
    This trip will give me ENERGY for the rest of the YEAR!
    XX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AirBnB is good for shorter stays, even 2-3 nights. But if you’re just staying one night, a hotel is easier. Also, yes, it’s nice to have round-the-clock desk service, but even small hotels don’t always do that.
      Have fun in Hollywood. I can’t wait to hear about it!

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  6. I have been admiring your AirB&Bs for quite a while…so it’s definitely on my list. When we come to Europe, we usually stay longer( few months at a time), so AirB&B are our first choice. We also used a studio appt in Paris as the hotel rooms are so small and insanely expensive. But for short stays (up to 4 days) we prefer hotels. I suppose that seasoned travellers develop eventually a system that works for them. And it’s true that when I first travel to an exotic destination I’m not at all familiar with, I’d use a tour to first get a feeling for the place and scope of things. Afterwards I can go back on my own if I choose to. You brought up pretty much everything that one should consider when planning a trip, including the legal aspect which is extremely important. Keep on traveling and sharing your beautiful experiences! Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We have used both options while traveling. The criteria for us is to be as close to the historical parts of old cities, so that we can walk everywhere. In smaller towns and villages, being out in the country is perfect. The trick for us is to pretend – your not fooling anyone-to be local and try to speak to as many people as possible….ask advice. People are generally happy to share. They seem to be as curious about you, as you are about them.
    Great article…
    Ali

    Liked by 1 person

      1. “Pretending to be local?” Ho ho ho. In 2005 I decided to make a two month trip to France, rent a car, travel around, etc etc. I wanted to blend in if possible, so I rented a car in Framce, but from the US, a Smart, which I thought must be what French people drive. Well they do, but not outside the cities. The on line rental was really cheap, featuring an illustration of the car with the caption that it could be rented for €5 per day, and the illustration also had this price written all over it. I guess you know what’s coming: I rented the car, and when I picked it up a La Defense in Paris, it was exactly that car. Bright orange with a black convertible top, and full body stickers saying (in french of course) “rent me for €5 per day”. Every time I drove into a smal village everyone on the street stopped what they were doing to stare at me. So much for blending in. It was a good car! I drove it from Paris to Umbria in Italy, not knowing that no sensible French person would ever consider doing that. But its okay, I was pretending to be French!!
        bonnie in provence
        (driving a 20 year old opel)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I am hotel phobic, I really dislike the whole experience. If I can’t stay in a B&B or airbnb I don’t go. I visited Nice with friends in October, there were 4 of us needing 3 bedrooms, and we found a really nice airbnb in an old part of Nice, very convenient to the tramway, etc. We used Uber a lot to get places that were a bit farther away, and took the bus to Monaco and the train to Antibes! Airbnb (or any sort of apartment stay deal) is so much more flexible. I don’t want to sit on my bed in a hotel room visiting with my friends! Your place is magnifique, you should be tres proud of it!
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Smaller places, B&Bs are my usual choice for all the reasons cited. I did, however, use a Big Business Hotel last year at the Paris airport and was pathetically grateful for helpful desk people, taxis at the ready, and a shuttle van. But Big Biz Hotel would look askance upon my bringing in groceries and preparing a meal. Much nicer in a kitchen, plus the amazing experience of shopping at whatever local markets.

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    1. Yes, the fancy hotels freak out about food. But for some people what counts is having a gym and/or pool for working out, which you’re unlikely to find in a B&B or apartment. Different strokes for different folks.

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  10. We generally do B&B or airbnb. BUT having said that we had some great hotel experiences too, especially in places where we want to be very close to the center (old town bits) and arrive by plane or w/o car. We’re doing our discovering on foot and I so love food and drink that I don’t mind doing the brekky and the dinner. Or we have a picnic at lunch and a restaurant meal in the evening. But we love the liberty of either staying in bed until ready to get up, or to go out and come back during the day, have a pause with a book or a short rest, and you can’t do that so easily in a hotel. I know we would love your place, I’ve said it before and Who Knows???? Never say never!

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  11. Even just a week away from home is now too complicated for my husband and our ‘routine’. Our previous holidays always started with May we take the dog and is there an enclosed garden ?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I enjoy renting apartments as well as staying in small chambre d’hotes that have table d’hotes. I feel like we get the best of both worlds with a combination of those. I don’t really stay in big international chain hotels unless it’s an airport hotel before an early morning flight.

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