Photo: Four Seasons, Airbnb

Are Hotels or Airbnbs More Affordable? New Study Found the Cities Where There's a Big Difference

United States Epic Stays
by Katie Scott Aiton Jun 24, 2024

Choosing between an Airbnb and a hotel can be a significant decision for budget-conscious travelers. Both have benefits: hotels have many amenities, while Airbnb rentals offer kitchen facilities and a more local experience. But which is the more affordable option? A recent study by Upgraded Points analyzed average nightly accommodation costs in 100 major US cities, and the findings might help you plan your next city getaway.

The study’s findings are perhaps not surprising: Airbnbs offer a significant edge in affordability across most of the country. Booking a vacation rental on Airbnb is cheaper in 71 out of 100 cities. On average, Airbnbs cost a nightly rate of $156, compared to $208 for hotels — a potential saving of roughly $52 per night. Prices were compared across two booking platforms, Airbnb and Kayak.

However, the cost dynamics aren’t uniform across all locations. Upgraded Points highlight a significant variation depending on the city. Cities like Milwaukee and Chicago offered substantial savings for Airbnb stays, with average nightly hotel rates exceeding $350. Conversely, travelers may pay more for an Airbnb experience in some locations like Madison and Tucson.

Cities where it’s cheaper to stay in an Airbnb over a hotel

  • 1. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee tops the list with a $212.19 savings when booking the average Airbnb, and Brew City has a great selection of Airbnb homes to choose from.

  • 2. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Airbnbs cost around $166, while an average hotel room will set you back a whopping $364. From luxury apartments and spacious lofts to designer homes, Chicago’s Airbnb offerings are eclectic.

  • 3. Omaha, Nebraska

Hotel: $343.30
Airbnb: $145.06
Difference: $198.34

  • 4. Cleveland, Ohio

Hotel: $322.29
Airbnb: $125.09
Difference: $197.20

  • 5. Charleston, South Carolina

The average cost of an Airbnb in Charleston is $210, compared to $395 for a hotel. Charleston has some great Airbnbs for a weekend getaway and group-sized homes for family trips or bachelor and bachelorette parties.

  • 6. Boston, Massachusetts

Hotel: $362.66
Airbnb: $202.30
Difference: $160.36

  • 7. New Haven, Connecticut

Hotel: $332.50
Airbnb: $188.90
Difference: $143.60

  • 8. Detroit, Michigan

Hotel: $257.24
Airbnb: $131.65
Difference: $125.59

  • 9. Providence, Rhode Island

Hotel: $306.15
Airbnb: $181.11
Difference: $125.04

  • 10. Seattle, Washington

Hotel: $280.22
Airbnb: $159.34
Difference: $120.88

Cities where it’s cheaper to stay in a hotel over an Airbnb

Of course, many factors, like being able to prepare meals at home, having laundry facilities, and often private parking, make an Airbnb the more budget-friendly option overall, but if you’re raking up points or prefer the holiday vibes of a hotel, these cities have the most affordable rooms across the country.

  • 1. Madison, Wisconsin

Airbnb: $223.49
Hotel: $167.18
Difference: $56.31

  • 2. Tucson, Arizona

Airbnb: $142.09
Hotel: $99.40
Difference: $42.67

  • 3. Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield has decent hotel rooms for as little as $123.48 compared to the average Airbnb for $163.89. The city is also home to one of the most haunted hotels in the US.

  • 4. Jackson, Mississippi

Airbnb: $150.68
Hotel: $112.34
Difference: $38.34

  • 5. Scranton, Pennsylvania

Airbnb: $184.50
Hotel: $149.68
Difference: $34.82

  • 6. Fort Myers, Florida

Opting for a hotel room over an Airbnb in Fort Myers will average a $34.05 savings. Check out The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel for excellent oceanfront resorts and boutique hotels.

  • 7. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Airbnb: $146.21
Hotel: $113.20
Difference: $33.01

  • 7. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Airbnb: $146.21
Hotel: $113.20
Difference: $33.01

  • 8. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Sure, Colorado Springs is home to mega-hotels like Garden of the Gods, which will set you back a pretty penny, but there are a ton of small mid-range hotels that are well-priced, and many are pet-friendly like Kinship Landing. The average hotel room here is $188.28 compared to an Airbnb for $220.53 per night.

  • 9. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Airbnb: $206.65
Hotel: $175.26
Difference: $31.38

  • 10. Stockton, California

Airbnb: $187.98
Hotel: $163.60
Difference: $24.38

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