Inn is out: 5 reasons to skip a hotel

By | October 29th, 2007

Your next hotel might not be a hotel. It could be a condo, a rental apartment or a home.

And maybe it should be.

It isn’t just that traditional hotels, inns and resorts turn off many travelers. There are plenty of reasons to check out of the lodge these days – through-the-roof room rates, being nickeled and dimed for every little extra item – and the alternatives are often roomier, less expensive and more convenient.

No one is predicting the demise of the hotel industry. Not by a long shot, but when it comes to overnight accommodations on your next trip, you might consider an alternate to a traditional hotel.

Here are five reasons why:

1. Lots and lots of room. Renting a house or condo almost always gives you more room for less money. That’s the experience of travelers like Linda Frappia, a healthcare manager from Irvine, Calif. She has rented homes in Europe with two bedrooms and kitchens for as little as $500 a week during off-season. That’s about as much as it costs for a comparable suite in a nice hotel – for one night. “I was pleasantly surprised at how charming the accommodations were as well,” she told me. In France, for example, she rented a 200-year-old house that had been completely remodeled. “It was actually nicer than the pictures on the Internet,” she adds.

2. More privacy. Hotels are, by their very nature, public places, from the lobby to the exercise rooms. If you want to go somewhere where you don’t have to rub shoulders with the masses, you’ll want to skip the hotel. Rosanne Skopp did. She’s a retired real estate broker from West Orange, N.J., who had spent one night too many at a bed-and-breakfast. “It was too cozy. When we return from a long day of sightseeing, we long for privacy and peace and don’t want to chitchat with an overly friendly bed-and-breakfast owner,” she says. The solution was to rent an apartment, which means, “comfort without intrusion.”

Related story:   Flying the stormy skies

3. A better price. Hotels are expensive. Even cheap hotels can be pricey, once you factor in taxes, “resort” fees and other surcharges. But that’s not necessarily the case with one of the popular hotel alternatives. Lyn Clarke, a retired nurse from Fairview Heights, Ill., finds that the rental apartments she and her husband, John, prefer when they travel to Europe don’t only cost less they also allow her to save money in other ways, too. “We can enjoy our own home-cooked food,” she says. “When we travel internationally, we always look for apartments, and we generally homestead in one place for a week at a time. It’s more cost-effective.”

4. You can go native. Most hotels are built in resort areas, and it’s difficult to get a feel for what a place is really like when you’re miles away from any residents. But rent a condo, home or apartment, and you’re more likely to be right in the middle of everything. “It gets us out of the insular resorts and into the local community a bit more,” says Dean Starovasnik, a director for an engineering firm in Norcross, Ga. “Isn’t that part of the objective of travel – to experience environments outside our normal comfort zone?”