Check these out before you check in, from Airbnb to home swaps

Check these out before you check in: Tired of searching for hotels and B&Bs? Now you can take your pick from options galore. So which is best for you?

  • Airbnb, invented in 2007, has seven million places to stay in over 100,000 cities 
  • Aparthotels are a middle ground between hotels and self-catering options 
  • Hostels are an easy way to meet people and are usually in very central locations

Do you find searching for accommodation an exhausting task?

Help is at hand as we reveal the pros and cons of all the best options from Airbnb to youth hostels…

AIRBNB 

When it comes to booking accommodation, there are options galore, from Airbnb to hotels 

Invented in San Francisco in 2007, when two friends charged to let people use airbeds on their living room floor, 13 years on, Airbnb has seven million places to stay in more than 100,000 cities.

Pros: If you can’t find something you like on Airbnb, then you’re probably being too picky. Mansions, farms and simple rooms can be yours in every destination you could think of. Often in residential parts of town, this is ideal if you’re looking for the local experience.

Cons: The sheer variety can make choosing somewhere a daunting task and everything is booked online. Residents of many cities (especially Barcelona) are becoming rabidly anti-Airbnb as landlords buy up properties and only let them out to Airbnb users, making renting ever harder for locals.

HOME SWAP 

Sites such as lovehomeswap.com, homelink.org.uk and homeexchange.com work by building a profile, then selecting what type of holiday you’re looking for and providing details of your house.

Pros: The idea of ‘swapping’ homes is becoming hugely popular. Site lovehomeswap.com, claims there’s been a 34 per cent increase in bookings between April and June. It can be an affordable way to get a lot more space than any hotel suite — plus a host of homespun creature comforts.

Cons: None of the main homeswap sites organises personal visits to vet properties. It’s wise to ask your homeswap partners to send date-verified pictures.

B&Bs

The personal touch and local knowledge are among the pros of staying in a B&B

They took off after World War II when owners of large Victorian and Georgian properties needed to find extra forms of income to keep their homes running.

Since then, the cliché of the hatchet-faced landladies in Blackpool being stingy with the bacon at breakfast has vanished, to be replaced by a huge range of higher -quality lodgings.

Pros: The personal touch and local knowledge. The best B&Bs are almost indistinguishable from boutique hotels, with designs and quality service that puts many hotel groups to shame.

Cons: Privacy may be questionable and B&Bs are rarely in the centre of towns or cities. That ‘ten minutes from the station’ boast on the website often means a half-hour slog through an industrial estate.

APARTHOTELS 

Fully serviced apartments are a middle ground between hotels and self-catering. Staycity.com, sacoapartments.com and nativeplaces.com all list contemporary design flats across UK cities.

Pros: The service of a hotel (most aparthotels have 24-hour manned reception desks) without the unnecessary frills. All the mod cons you could need during your stay, such as dishwashers.

Cons: Aparthotels can sometimes look and feel rather corporate. Their locations are often in business districts, too. This means that, on weekends, the area can feel deserted. 

HOSTELS 

Hostels are an easy way to meet people. Their locations are often central to the city 

Britain’s first hostel opened in North Wales in 1930, offering bunk-bed accommodation in dorms for one shilling a night. There are more than 150 in England and Wales, with most now having private rooms as well as dorms.

Pros: Cheap. They’re an easy way to meet people and the locations are often central to the city.

Cons: Shared dormitories can be rowdy. Although the average age of users has risen, the main market is still twentysomethings.

WOLSEY LODGES  

Named after Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, Wolsey Lodges describe themselves as an association of family-run B&Bs around the UK and Ireland. They tend to be a step-up in price and quality from the typical B&B.

Pros: The huge range of accommodation types, from farm-stays to villas to cottages. All come with owners who take on the role of hosts and hostesses.

Cons: Being a part of the household won’t work if you’re looking for a romantic à deux situation. And if high-speed broadband and quick access to a bar are your priorities, then look elsewhere.

HOTELS 

Hotels have been around since time began (almost). The best hotels wear their history with aplomb

They’ve been around since time began (almost) and the range in quality (and price) is dizzying. The best will rejuvenate; the worst will nauseate.

Some people can’t do without them. Judy Garland once lived in The Savoy and Margaret Thatcher ended her days in The Ritz.

Pros: Ah, the timeless indulgence of calling room service for a late-night club sandwich or martini. It’s this kind of glorious gratification that you’re paying for. The best hotels wear their history with aplomb, too.

Cons: Your credit card will have scorch marks if you take advantage of the spa and room service. If you think you’ll be out on the town for most of the time, you should question whether a hotel is really worth the expense.  

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