For some travelers, renting someone else's house or apartment rather than staying at a hotel defies the very essence of vacation: the complete liberation from daily tasks such as cleaning and cooking. True, there are certain conveniences and services you lose in a vacation rental (unless you book through a high-end service such as Onefinestay.com), but what you gain can more than make up for the loss of convenience. Here’s a look at some of the trade-offs.

What You Give Up

Predictability: From aesthetics to amenities to daily housekeeping, you know what to expect at a hotel, especially the big chains.

Guest services: You won’t have a concierge on hand to book dinner reservations or recommend that perfect shop.

Housekeeping: Who doesn’t like a freshly made bed and fluffy new towels? Only hotels offer this indulgence.

Room service: Though you might be able to have food delivered, you’ll have to give up ordering breakfast the night before.

Fitness center: Most hotels have gyms or workout rooms so that guests can stay fit while they travel, but they’re relatively rare in vacation rentals.

What You Get

Uniqueness: From chic city apartments to castles to tree houses, the variety of accommodations is limitless.

Privacy: Renting a home or an apartment means freedom from having to deal with hotel staff—or anyone else, for that matter.

Comfort: Vacation rentals offer many of the conveniences you’re used to at home, including more space to spread out.

A kitchen: You don’t have to use it, but it’s nice to have if you want to save some money and be able to invite new friends over for your famous paella.

Value: Vacation rentals can offer great value for the money. For instance, you can usually find one that will accommodate a large group for much less than a hotel.



Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the June 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.