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Hotel bookings found to be cheaper than Airbnb and Vrbo

Written by: Matthew Browning
Holidaymakers looking for accommodation are paying more to use private rental websites than hotel rooms, a study from a consumer champion has revealed. The rental companies disagree.

The price of one-bedroom rentals on websites Airbnb and Vrbo were a fifth more expensive than an equivalent hotel booking.

Consumer champion Which? found that the average price of a one-bedroom listing on popular sites Airbnb and Vrbo was £120, compared to £101 for a hotel equivalent (excluding five-star hotels).

The study covered 300,000 stays listed on the two apps worldwide, which showed Dutch capital Amsterdam had the starkest gap between the booking options. On average a hotel costs £116 for a night in the city, while that price rockets by £67 to £183 per night using Airbnb and Vrbo.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Many holidaymakers may be surprised to discover that the average cost of hotels in many destinations is cheaper than one-bedroom holiday lets, which are often promoted as a popular option for travellers trying to save money.

“When planning your next trip, don’t assume a hotel will cost more, but instead check rates across different platforms. [However], for larger groups that need more rooms and space, private rentals are still likely to beat hotels on price.”

What the businesses said

Vrbo noted that its listings were different from hotel stays and therefore not applicable.

It said: “Vrbo only lists whole, private, holiday homes, which is a different experience to booking a hotel room. When you book a Vrbo, you are able to take advantage of amenities within the comfort of the property such as being able to cook and eat together in the kitchen, or relax together in shared spaces with friends and family. This also means that travellers can save money during their stay, if they don’t want to dine in a hotel or a restaurant.

“Vrbo strives to be as transparent as possible about pricing. For example, an inclusive pricing feature in the search experience helps guests have a better idea of the total cost of a booking as well as the nightly rate. Each listing page and the check-out experience also includes itemised costs with details on fees and taxes. Hosts are ultimately responsible for setting their own fees, but we encourage hosts to consolidate their fees, so the guest has a better expectation of the total cost when they’re searching.”

Airbnb was even more forthright, stating that the comparison was based on ‘flawed methodology’.

The company said: “This data is wrong and based on flawed methodology. It overstates prices on Airbnb, and compares standard hotel rooms to entire places listed on Airbnb, which typically include kitchens and living spaces. There is something for every budget on Airbnb and nearly half of guests say booking on Airbnb saved them money. A quarter say they specifically chose Airbnb over other types of accommodation to save money.”

Selected city hotel prices vs Airbnb/Vrbo prices

Average price of a one-bedroom Airbnb/Vrbo Average price of a hotel room Price difference
Amsterdam £183 £116 £67
Singapore £141 £81 £60
Greater London £162 £102 £60
Dubai £127 £71 £56
Barcelona £139 £94 £45

Selected coastal hotel prices vs Airbnb/Vrbo prices

Average price of a one-bedroom Airbnb/Vrbo Average price of a hotel room Price difference
Santorini, Greece £203 £119 £84
Almancil, Portugal £144 £63 £81
Alcudia, Spain £124 £87 £37
Sorrento, Italy £146 £119 £27
Zakynthos, Greece £95 £79 £16

Selected UK hotel prices vs Airbnb/Vrbo prices

Average price of a one-bedroom Airbnb/Vrbo Average price of a hotel room Price difference
Southwold £223 £155 £68
Greater London £162 £102 £60
St Andrews £160 £120 £40
Bath £123 £89 £34
Bamburgh £135 £108 £27

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