Since the creation of Airbnb and the services the company offers, many travelers have been wondering: is it really better value for money than staying at a hotel? To answer the question, the site Upgraded Points conducted a study where it analyzed cost data on the cost of a hotel room, a “private room” Airbnb, and an “entire place” Airbnb in the most populous cities across the US. The study used the cost of 1 night for 2 adults in the fall of 2021 as the input data.
When it comes to staying in a “private room” Airbnb (i.e. a closed-off section of the house to sleep but certain areas are shared), some travelers like the possibility of getting to know locals and being served home-cooked breakfast every morning. Others demand unfettered control of the TV remote and the privacy to put their feet up on the coffee table without fear of a scolding.
Upgraded Points compared the prices of a “private room” Airbnb to hotels, and found that Airbnb was cheaper in every city. Among the cities with the highest cost difference were Las Vegas ($269 cheaper), Boston ($206.30 cheaper), and Milwaukee ($180.20 cheaper) for a 1-night stay for 2 adult guests. On the other end of the cost-difference spectrum, Airbnb was just $7.30 cheaper in Orlando, $20.80 cheaper in San Jose, CA, and $44.30 cheaper in Memphis, TN.
Looking at the possibility to rent an “entire place” (no shared areas), the results showed that hotels are cheaper in 46 out of the 50 cities analyzed when compared to whole-unit Airbnb rentals. From the highest cost difference of $328.10 in Los Angeles to the lowest cost difference of $2.30 in Atlanta, hotels almost always represented better value for money.
The main reason for this difference? Airbnb’s rising taxes and fees. While the unit may appear cheap to begin with, guests are often hit with an average of 40.33% of the total cost in extra taxes and fees. In Orlando it’s up to 53.31%.
In the case of “private room” Airbnbs, guests wind up paying an average of 35.91% of your total cost on taxes and fees. The percentage in taxes and fees goes higher in cities like New Orleans (46.77%), Birmingham, AL (45.87%), and Seattle (45.43%). In May of this year, several users complained on social media about Airbnb’s listings and added costs after booking.
In the case of a hotel, guests can expect 22.62% of the total cost in taxes and fees (in Las Vegas), and an average of 15.06% country-wide. It is perhaps revealing that in 2017, 81% of Airbnb’s revenue came from whole-unit rentals.