Is It Cheaper To Book A Hotel On Airbnb Or Directly Through Their Website?

Since it launched in 2007, Airbnb has quickly become an affordable, and incredibly popular, alternative to traditional hotels. And while it might've seemed risky to stay in a stranger's home just a few years ago, the platform has become a go-to for travelers all over the world. To prove this point, Airbnb states on its website that it has secured a staggering 1.5 billion guest stays to date — and counting. 

However, that doesn't mean Airbnb is completely safe. From too-good-to-be-true listings to guests being abruptly kicked out of their rentals, the website — or, more specifically, its hosts — isn't always as trustworthy as a regular hotel operation. With that being said, there's a way to get the best of both worlds by booking a traditional hotel through Airbnb. 

Given that Airbnb is known for offering affordable stays, the idea is that you could save money by finding a hotel and reserving it through the online platform. To find out if this strategy holds up, we compared prices from around the world to determine how you should pay for your next stay.

Booking on Airbnb might be cheaper but there's a catch

When stacking up hotel prices across different channels, one thing becomes clear: There aren't really any rules or norms. Hotels set their prices depending on demand, seasonality, and various other factors. As a result, it's impossible to say for certain whether Airbnb prices will be higher or lower than the hotel's website on any given day. Still, we compared booking costs between the two and found that, typically, a hotel listed on Airbnb will be cheaper than if you booked the same place directly through their website instead. 

This pattern emerged across several different countries and continents. For instance, an off-season, five-night stay in Paris' Hotel Eiffel Blomet is, at the time of this writing, around €50 cheaper on Airbnb compared to the hotel's website. Phu Beach Hotel, located in Ao Nang, Thailand, offers even bigger savings on Airbnb. We found a week-long summer trip to be around 21,000 baht cheaper when reserved on Airbnb compared to the hotel's booking site. To put it in perspective, this is a difference of approximately $500.

While Airbnb might generally be more affordable, there's one notable catch: The platform allows hosts to add on fees, including service and cleaning fees. These costs can drive up the advertised rate, sometimes even surpassing what you'd find on the hotel's website. Be sure to carefully check any added fees before booking your trip. The best way to do this is to locate the total on the checkout page, rather than trusting the nightly rate shown on Airbnb's search page.

Always do your research before committing to a booking

If you're booking a hotel and looking for the best deals, the good news is that the lower prices we found on Airbnb don't appear to be a fluke. Setting lower rates on Airbnb seems to be a common practice and one that hosts may even employ strategically. One writer for Insider stayed in a resort-style hotel in Sozopol, Bulgaria, and realized they would've paid $119 more per night had they booked via the accommodation's official website (a studio at the hotel was only $38 per night when reserved on Airbnb compared to a whopping $157 otherwise). 

When the owner was asked about the discrepancy, he confirmed he'd bought the apartment and rented it out separately on Airbnb (though it's unclear why it was priced so much lower on the homestay site than a comparable studio). Despite being cheaper, the room was very similar to others available on the property, and the writer who stayed there noted they were still allowed to access the resort's facilities.

As we cautioned before, there are no clear rules or standards, and hosts can adjust prices as they see fit. Regardless, when booking a traditional hotel, be sure to look beyond their official website and compare prices on platforms like Airbnb to make your travel budget go even further.