When visiting a mountain town you will most likely have two choices for accommodations. You can book a short term rental from an online travel company like Airbnb and VRBO or you could stay at a hotel. There are positives and negatives with each option, so hopefully this quick write up can help you decide. Since Faultline395 is based in Mammoth Lakes, CA, most of our info about accommodations during ski season is based on how things work in our area. However, the general info provided here should apply to all small mountain towns.
It seems that short term rentals, such as those you can rent on Airbnb, have gotten a bad rap lately. You read stories of unclean or rundown apartments, long lists of chores, cameras inside units, and exorbitant fees. These things do happen, but all of the stories you hear about online or in the news are extreme examples. Almost all listings on Airbnb are legitimately nice places run by people who make at least part of their income from short term rentals. You can rest assured that the host makes every effort to ensure guests will have a nice stay, but to be sure make sure you read reviews. The best part about renting on Airbnb or VRBO is the space almost always will have full kitchen, a separate living room, and options for multiple bedrooms. If you want to cook breakfast each morning to save a few bucks, the Airbnb is probably your only option. It is true that there are additional fees, but after adding everything up, the final price is usually comparable to a hotel. People often forget that Hotels have fees too and some of them are daily fees like the infamous resort fee or parking fees.
Hotels are the tried and true option and the booking process is much easier to navigate. If you are staying at a Four Seasons or the Motel 6 you will likely know what to expect from your accommodations. When booking a short term rental you are more or less relying on the description, pictures, and reviews. The best thing about a Hotel compared to Airbnb is that Hotels have a front desk person to deal with any issues. Many Hotels may also have great views, a bar or restaurant inside the building, or perks like valet parking and a ski-in ski-out location. Things like luggage racks, elevators, and ski storage also make for a low stress vacation. Daily maid service is also a consideration, so if you prefer fresh towels and a made bed everyday then a hotel if your best bet. However, if you want a kitchen or if you need multiple bedrooms then a Hotel is not even an option. In a small town like Mammoth Lakes there are not even enough hotel rooms to meet demand, so Airbnb may be your only choice. Conversely, in a place like Lake Tahoe, which has dozens of hotels and the large city of Reno, NV close by, there are tons of options for a hotels and they almost never sell out.
There a defiantly some perks to staying at a hotel, but in our opinion an Airbnb is the best option for a ski vacation, especially if you are travelling in a bigger group and need multiple bedrooms. Once you start comparing the price of two or three hotel rooms to the price of a two or three bedroom Airbnb it really is a no-brainer. With that said, below are a few tips for a good stay when booking on Airbnb.
- Airbnb is much better for stays of 3 or more nights as the fees are spread across more nights. If you are staying only 1 night, then a hotel is usually the better choice.
- Read the description and a few reviews on Airbnb. You really shouldn't expect luxury accommodations if the unit is not described that way. It's also important to know if there is a large staircase to climb or if the place only has 1 parking spot. This info is always shown in the description, so make sure you are reading the details and not just booking based on a picture.
- Price is not an indicator of quality. Just like Hotels, Airbnb hosts increase their price during peak periods. In Mammoth Lakes, for example, if you want to visit from Christmas to New Years Day, then you'll be paying a pretty penny even for basic accommodations.