Hotel versus vacation rental: What to consider

SHERYL NANCE-NASH | 9/17/2020, midnight
When you’re ready to travel again, one of your first big questions is likely to be what to do about ...
Hotel room Image by Olya Adamovich from Pixabay

When you’re ready to travel again, one of your first big questions is likely to be what to do about accommodations? Do you go for a hotel or a vacation rental? No doubt, there is a lot to consider. The coronavirus is a game changer.

In the end, it comes down to what you’re most comfortable with. The experts weigh in to help you make up your mind.

Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn

Jordan Brady, luxury travel advisor and founder of Journey Bound Travel Co., shares his insights. When it comes to the pluses of 4- and 5-star hotels, he says, “Generally, at higher-quality hotels, you are going to be more satisfied with your accommodation. It’s not just a person renting out their private home. Hotels are under more strict regulation from their state/local government to keep health and safety operational procedures up to par.”

He points out that amenities such as pools, restaurants and spas are operating under strict rules. Furthermore, he says that many hotels are in unique, remote locations and have standalone or more private accommodation options than you might realize, such as cottages, cabins, bungalows, villas, or casitas. Some of these are standalone structures, and others might be connected but have a private outdoor entrance and private outdoor space.

Nicole Hunter, a travel blogger for Go Far Grow Close, likes that you can hold the hotel accountable for any health or safety deficiencies that you discover while there. “You can ask for a different room, especially if they have advertised certain safety protocols and they are not living up to them. You can also demand a refund or some sort of compensation. This would be very difficult in a vacation rental,” says Hunter.

But you can’t ignore some facets of hotel life. There are more people around you, especially in the public places. “No matter how strict you are, you’re only as safe as the people you are exposed to,” says Brady.

Understand too, that the amenities you so love may be a bit more complicated. You could now need to make dinner reservations in advance, or reservations for lounge chairs at the pool (in 2-hour blocks), or there may be limited spa availability.

Then there’s the matter of customer service. “Depending on how a hotel is handling their occupancy rate and how well they’ve been able to keep up with staff, you might see a lower staff-to-guest ratio. Also many U.S. hotels rely on their foreign staff members. Due to COVID travel restrictions, many foreign workers have not been able to make it to the U.S. This means the hotel ends up hiring local college kids. This all affects service, unfortunately. So, it’s important to have the right expectations,” says Brady.

Lastly, generally, he says you’ll pay more for a higher quality accommodation compared to a private rental.

Alex Miller, founder and CEO of, a travel site that provides analysis, data, reviews and in-depth guides to travelers, offers a tip: “With a hotel, you can book the nights before you arrive to guarantee no one will have stayed in your room. This may not be possible with a vacation home, as you have to tend to deal with private renters for these.”