Why we always stay in a vacation rental instead of a hotel…

We recently attended a vacation rental summit. One of the first jokes of the evening? “I always feel a little silly hosting a vacation rental summit in a hotel.”

Everyone laughed, but we felt a little smug. We were staying in one of our owners’ vacation rentals – and were clearly having a better time than those staying in the hotel.

HERE’S WHY WE ALWAYS CHOOSE A VACATION RENTAL OVER A HOTEL – and why you should too:

  • Vacation Rentals Are Less Expensive

We needed three rooms for our 3 employees attending the Summit. Our price to get 3 rooms for 3 nights at the Hilton Austin? $2,781, plus a 15% tax, for a total of $3,198.15. Meanwhile, we found a 3-bedroom home where the nightly rate was just $390. With taxes, cleaning fees, and protection insurance, the total came to $1,345.50. $3,198.15 for a hotel vs. $931.90 for a vacation rental. This was a no-brainer.

  • Vacation Rentals Are More Generous With Their Amenities

Everyone enjoys hotel amenities. The little shampoos! The tiny individual packets of soap! But as we all know, hotels have begun to charge travelers for almost all amenities that aren’t hygiene-related. That packet of peanuts you took out of the tray on the desk? It’s going to cost you $6.00. That bottle of water? $3.00. In a vacation rental, amenities are much more freely given.

Our owner had left a few beers in the fridge, an entire wine rack for our enjoyment, and a ton of food staples in the pantry, such as rice and hot chocolate.

She also left us coffee in the freezer and a coffee grinder in addition to an excellent coffee pot, resulting in better coffee than I’ve ever had in a hotel.

The kitchen also came fully equipped with a stove, dishwasher, and every kitchen utensil, along with flatware, dishes, glasses, and coffee mugs. We easily made quick breakfasts inexpensively – instead of paying inflated prices for hotel food.

We didn’t even have to forego the bathroom amenities we enjoy in hotels – our owner provided a huge variety of shampoos and soaps in tiny travel-sized bottles for us. The master bathroom even included cotton balls, floss, and tons of other amenities!

The best part? We never had to worry about getting nickel-and-dimed over enjoying the amenities. If we wanted a cup of tea at midnight, we wouldn’t be charged for the teabag. If we ate some of the nut mix in the pantry, we knew it was given out of the host’s generosity – not out of a desire to make money off of our late-night hankering for a salty snack.

  • Vacation Rentals Offer Both Public and Private Spaces

When you’re on a trip, you need time to work and collaborate with your colleagues to discuss your plans during the day.

In hotel rooms, there aren’t a lot of options for places to do this. Working in one another’s hotel rooms means invading your fellow colleagues’ private space, and there aren’t many places in a hotel to work comfortably and discreetly.

Discussing your strategy for offering a better experience than your competitors in a lobby where those same competitors are staying? Not ideal.

Our vacation rental had a variety of spaces for us to work together or separately as we prepared for the conference. I took up residence in the dining room to write a quick blog post, while Ron practiced his talk in the office. After the conference, we all piled onto the comfortable couch and easy chair in the living room to discuss how it went.

We still had our own bedrooms for private time, but we weren’t short of ways to collaborate with one another in an area away from our fellow attendees.

Whenever you’re traveling, you need spaces that are both public and private – spaces that are just for your party. This is particularly important when you’re traveling for business or as a family. Vacation rentals offer a range of options for how you share your time on the road, and you simply can’t find that flexibility in a hotel.

  • Vacation Rentals Provide the Comforts of Home

I once went hungry in a hotel room because I didn’t have a fork. It was an absurd situation. I’d picked up a to-go container of lasagna from the grocery store, knowing I wouldn’t have access to a kitchen. I’d remembered to heat it – but not to grab a plastic knife and fork. There I was in my pristine hotel room, sitting on my bed, unable to make so much as a dent in my lasagna.

These situations crop up all the time in hotels simply because you’re so accustomed to the ease with which you can get hold of essential items at home. You never think about a fork, because you always have forks at home. You never think about picking up cotton balls, because you have a massive bag full of them under the bathroom sink.

Any one of these situations is a small inconvenience, but they add up to a whole trip’s worth of feeling frustrated. Hotels often can’t do much about the inconvenience, either. They aren’t prepared for it.

A vacation rental has all the comforts of home, and you stop having these unexpected disappointments. You need a fork? There are a bunch in the drawer, just like in your own kitchen. Spare blanket to cover your knees? Not a problem, there’s one slung over the easy chair. Vacation rental owners have equipped their homes to be lived in, not visited.

When you’re traveling, you’re already expending a ton of mental energy because you’re outside your normal routine. You’re not likely to have the extra brainpower to remember that you need to pick up X item. A vacation rental saves you from that additional effort – and when you’re traveling for work, you need every spare brain cell you can get.

  • Vacation Rentals Let You Experience More of Any City

Our vacation rental wasn’t located far from downtown – we got there every morning in about 10 minutes – but it might as well have been on another planet when you compare the difference in neighborhoods.

Staying downtown can be lots of fun, particularly if you enjoy the nightlife. But if you want to get a real sense of the city, you don’t want to spend all your time downtown. You want to walk through neighborhoods and point out pretty houses along the way. You want to admire the huge spreading oak trees and the lush green vegetation. You want to get to know local restaurants & coffee shops and feel like a “regular”.

A hotel in the heart of downtown can’t offer this. If you walk out the front door of downtown hotel, you’re looking at huge buildings and concrete sidewalks. Instead, when we walked out our front door, we saw green lawns and spreading trees and an early morning jogger making a quiet pat-pat-pat along the street.

Two blocks away was a local gastro pub. Another two blocks away was a phenomenal internet cafe and a huge variety of shops. And while I’m not suggesting you can’t find shops and restaurants downtown, we would never have seen this part of town if we’d stayed in the city center.

Most cities have beautiful neighborhoods and amazing places to shop and eat and drink everywhere. Why should we limit ourselves to the 8 square blocks in the middle of town when we could be eating at places like The Salty Sow?

In the end, Vacation rentals let you see more of the city and enjoy finding the places that locals love to spend their time. No city begins and ends with its center – and you’ll find the prices are infinitely better when you venture out of downtown, too.

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