This post has been sponsored by HomeAway, but all thoughts, opinions, photos and copy are mine alone.
The first question I got when people found out we were headed to Scottsdale for New Year’s Eve was – where are you staying? With some of the nicest resorts in the southwest, we certainly had our pick of top quality hotels to pick from and enjoy. That said – we were meeting up with friends we hadn’t seen in forever, so it was important for us to be able to actually spend time with them – something that might be kind of hard to do in a hotel setting unless we booked a big suite with multiple rooms, which may or may not have cost a fortune. For this reason (and a few others I’ll dive into below), we chose a HomeAway property (this one to be specific). It was the first time I had booked a private home rental for a big trip (we have done a few weekend one-nighters around here), as opposed to a hotel or resort, so I was a little bit apprehensive, but our stay was absolutely amazing. Today I want to talk a little bit about booking a home rental like HomeAway vs. a hotel for any upcoming trips.
Home Rental VS. Hotel
Let’s first talk about the pros and cons of a home rental. We booked with HomeAway for this trip, because we were traveling with a group of 6, which would have required a minimum of 3 hotel rooms or a suite (like I talked about above) and we wanted the option of being able to cook some of our own meals since a few of us have food allergies. It helped that the location of our house rental was prime for activities in the Old Town area of Scottsdale (walkable!).
First and foremost – for a party of our size, the cost for a home vs. a hotel was unmatchable. Because we were traveling over a holiday, couple with the fact that Scottsdale brings a lot of snowbirds down for warm weather and bowl games, we were looking at around $400-600 per night, per hotel room. The cost of a hotel for just one couple was more than our home rental for the entire time. This is mostly true for any destination you might be visiting, particularly if you have a larger group that will require more than one hotel room.
Second, we loved being able to cook breakfast for lazy mornings at home, enjoy happy hour with appetizers out by the pool of our rental and cook dinner if the mood struck. We were ready to cook dinner one night, but later discovered a takeout Thai joint that we decided we MUST try. Though most hotel rooms have refrigerators these days, there was something so nice about being able to stock up on a few grocery essentials with a kitchen at our disposal. I imagine had we been there longer than 4 days, we would have cooked a bit more.
Third, being “off the beaten path” of hotels and resorts in the area gave us a true taste of the town, which we loved. We had rented a car and used an Uber when we were drinking, and everything about the city and suburbs of Phoenix is so easy to navigate. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything by not staying at a hotel with a concierge at my disposal. Our group also had a few good friends in the area, so we relied on suggestions from locals when deciding where to eat, hike, etc.
Even with all the pros, there are some cons to renting a home as opposed to booking a hotel room, so a couple things to keep in mind:
1. Stocking. Not all HomeAway hosts are going to stock amenities in your home. A hotel might give you shampoo, conditioner, soap and supplies to make yourself a cup of coffee in the morning, but home hosts aren’t required to meet those requirements, so if this is a deal breaker for you, keep it in mind.
2. Research. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! Dane and I have a favorite line about looking things up on the internet: “Shining a turd.” As with anything online, one has the ability to make a house or apartment look absolutely incredible online, while it’s a bit of a dump in real life. Research allows you to comb the great from not-so-great. Look at photos, read reviews, look up the home on GoogleMaps (and be sure to check out the whole neighborhood with street view so you can weed out anything sketchy), and read the fine print of the rental. Are there extra fees? A weird check out time? Does your host speak your native language? When it’s me booking personally, the first red flag is an automatic elimination for the property.
Now let’s talk about hotels. I’ll be honest – since it’s normally just Dane and I traveling together, we lean toward booking hotels, since booking a private home or apartment (unless it’s a studio) winds up costing the same amount and we generally enjoy the feel of hotel luxuries. I think the pros of booking a hotel are kind of obvious (reliable reputation, someone comes and cleans up every day, in-house concierge), but I think it truly depends on what kind of vacation experience you want. One thing I was slightly worried about for this particular trip, is that I love to frequent hotel gyms for daily workouts. Thankfully, there was a beautiful park beside this rental that offered a fantastic running trail, but had that not been a possibility, or had we been in a destination that wasn’t quite warm enough for outdoor workouts, I would have missed that hotel luxury.
An important factor of planning any trip is to make a list of essentials you need while traveling. Do you require a certain number of beds or bathrooms? What about air conditioning or heat? Wifi? No stairs? Kitchen? Coffee maker? All of these factors will be important when you book a home rental or hotel. What about location? Do you want to live more like a local, or would a more central location of a hotel be beneficial? Do you plan on renting a car? Can you take public transportation if you’ll be staying in a residential area?
We have had nothing but amazing experiences for our weekend trips using private home rentals and I’m happy to report our trip to Scottsdale was no exception. Our home rental served the purpose we needed for a relaxing couples trip to the desert!
When traveling, do you prefer a home rental or a hotel? Why?