When Airbnb first emerged as the principal vacation booking platform, it built its reputation as a cheaper and more authentic alternative to the traditional travel experience. Instead of paying upwards of $100 per night for a hotel, you could pay a third or even a fifth of that price for a bed in someone’s guest room or a whole apartment if you were sharing with friends. Over the years, Airbnbs have gotten more expensive as more hosts list private residences instead of shared spaces—and according to a new report from the bus and train booking website Wanderu, the pandemic has further shifted the pricing paradigm between hotels and Airbnbs.
Using data from Trivago and Airbnb, Wanderu compared the price of entire homes and private rooms to hotel rooms in 20 cities across the world for the past three years and found nine cities where it is now officially cheaper on average to stay in a hotel than in an Airbnb. In some cities, the difference is a matter of pocket change, but it’s quite drastic in others. It’s hard to say if these prices will stick around when things go “back to normal,” but if you do plan to travel to any of these cities before “back to normal” happens, now is the time to look for an unprecedentedly good deal on a hotel room.
Even before the pandemic, hotel rooms were just starting to become cheaper than Airbnbs in Amsterdam. In 2019, the average hotel rate was about $170 per night, while the average Airbnb was $200 per night. In 2020, the hotel rate dropped to $113 per night, a 71 percent difference from the average Airbnb rate that only went down by about $7 in 2020. Among some of the cheapest hotels in the city right now is the boutique Hotel van de Jisel, which can be booked on Expedia starting at $54 per night.
As it turns out, with all its luxury penthouses and beachside condos on the platform, Miami’s Airbnbs were already more expensive than the average hotel room, even before the pandemic. Prices did go down slightly for both hotels and Airbnbs in Miami from 2019 to 2020, but the price difference is about the same: hotels are 40 percent cheaper. The average hotel room in Miami will cost about $115, but you can find a room at The Mayfair at Coconut Grove, starting at $95 on Expedia.
In 2018 and 2019, the average prices of Airbnbs were only slightly edging out hotel rooms in Las Vegas. In 2020, however, the average hotel rate dropped $124 per night to $100 per night, while Airbnbs actually got more expensive by $21. That’s a 59 percent price difference, which makes more sense when you stop to consider that hotel rooms in Las Vegas range from motels to high-rolling suites. Hotel rates on the lower end are still quite low, and right now, in Las Vegas, you can find hotels like the Golden Nugget selling rooms for as little as $67 per night.
Despite being the Airbnb headquarters, San Francisco’s hotel rates were still slightly more expensive before the pandemic. However, in 2020 the average rate for a hotel dropped from $226 to $132, a 59 percent difference. Airbnb prices went slightly down as well, but only by $12. The average Airbnb in San Francisco will still cost you about $200 per night. Most San Francisco hotels will typically charge more than $100 per night, but with a little digging, you can snatch up a price like the $93 rate of the Hilton San Francisco on Expedia.
In the Spanish capital, hotels had been consistently cheaper than Airbnbs for the past three years. Additionally, Madrid’s hotel prices have actually remained quite stable in the pandemic, with an average nightly rate that has even increased by about $2 from 2019 to 2020. The average Airbnb costs dropped from $175 to $145, but this is still much more expensive than the average hotel in Madrid, which costs $96 per night. If you are looking for something on the very low end of the spectrum, the Hostal Central Palace Madrid has rooms available on Hotels.com for as low as $38 per night.
Hotels in Lisbon had been slightly more expensive than the average Airbnb since 2018, but in 2020 the average cost of a hotel room experienced a dramatic drop. While the average Airbnb rate decreased from $109 per night to $104, the average hotel rate dropped by 30 percent from $122 per night to $86. Some very design-savvy hotels like the Lisbon Cheese & Wine Suites offer rates as low as $53 per night on Booking.com.
In 2018 and 2019, Vancouver's average hotel rates surpassed $200 per night, about $100 more than the average Airbnb. But in 2020, the average hotel rate plummeted to $119 per night, making them about 9 percent cheaper than Airbnb. This is the most dramatic year over year difference. While it may not seem you are saving a lot of money by choosing a hotel over an Airbnb in Vancouver, consider that stylish boutique hotels like the Victorian Hotel have rooms available on Orbitz for as low as $101 per night.
The average hotel rate in Chicago dropped by 34 percent, making hotels cheaper than Airbnbs for the first time. While Airbnbs were closing in on the price gap on hotels in 2018 and 2019, a hotel in Chicago would still cost about $200 per night. In 2020, the average hotel costs $130 per night, which is $26 cheaper than the average Airbnb. Some hotels can now be found for under $100 like the Godfrey Hotel, which has rates on Booking.com for as low as $76 per night.
Hotels in Rome have been actually cheaper than the average Airbnb since 2018, but the gap has never exceeded more than $10. Even though prices have gotten cheaper on average for both hotels and Airbnbs in Rome in 2020, the five percent gap is more narrow than in previous years, with average hotel rooms costing about $101 and average Airbnbs costing about $106. Rooms at hotels like the Otivm Hotel offer nights for as low as $65 on Hotels.com.