Short term rental properties. Some swear by them, while others swear against them. We’re not saying all of them are bad, but we are saying that oftentimes what seems cheaper than a hotel turns out to be way not cheaper with hidden fees and a complete lack of amenities (no hotel breakfasts, no pool…). And sometimes those rentals are just plain old worse than hotels when the owner somehow thinks you’re paying them a cleaning fee to still clean the place yourself before you go, or they think you’re there to take care of their cat?? Ridiculous honestly. You’re going on vacation for vacation. Not to effectively pay for the privilege of house sitting for a stranger.

In a recent study, Forbes located which cities had the worst Airbnb fees this year. Maybe worst of all, many of the cities with the highest fees on short term rentals are cities that you might be planning to head to for a cheap, affordable trip. But we have a very important message for you:

Colorful mountain range background with bold text over it that reads "We don't want you to have to pay excessive fees!!"

And we want to show you how hotels are actually the cheaper choice. Especially when you book on StudentUniverse where you’ll find rates up to 60% off!

Cities with the worst fees on Airbnb

According to that study we mentioned, Atlanta (48%), Phoenix (47%) and Fort Myers Beach, Florida (46%), have the highest total fees. These fees include the cleaning fee, service fee, and taxes. So while Fort Myers Beach’s average night rate might be $248, you’re almost definitely not paying that. You’ll be paying much more for your stay.

For cleaning fees specifically, Florida cities take up 5 of the top 10 highest cleaning-fee percentages in the country. So beware if you think you’re taking a cheap trip to Florida (spring break beach trip with the whole group, anyone?). In Florida that price per night is almost definitely going up with added fees. Plus cleaning fees are kinda the worst when you’re Host is messaging you telling you to clean before you leave. What are you even paying for then?

How our hotels rates compare

Let’s take Fort Myers Beach for example. This summer you can get rooms for as low as $296 total – that’s with taxes and fees. And that’s in the peak of summertime too. When you search Fort Myers Beach on Airbnb they display a wide area that’s not really Fort Myers Beach anymore. When you narrow it down to just places actually in Fort Myers Beach the lowest we saw for the exact same night was $324.47 once taxes and fees were added on.

Pro tip for finding hotels in that area even cheaper than the $296:

Try searching nearby areas. For Fort Myers Beach, look in Iona, FL and Estero, FL. They’re neighbors so you aren’t far off. In Iona we saw rates for the same night at $97. In Estero, they were $90, total.

A swimming pool outside a hotel resort with a palm tree next to the pool in the evening.

How to know when to get a hotel and when a short term rental is better

In truth, we can’t tell you to always get a hotel. There are definitely opportunities where you would be better off renting a home. For example, if you’re traveling with a big group it can end up cheaper and more convenient to split the cost of a home to stay in all together versus a bunch of hotel rooms. It’s also convenient to stay in rental properties if you are hoping to stay in a specific area, especially rural areas, where hotel options might be farther away and limited.

All that being said, you will definitely be surprised with how often hotel rooms are the cheaper choice. And besides them being cheaper, they can be so much more convenient too. By choosing to stay in hotels, you’ll have access to a concierge that can guide you on what to do in the new area. You may have breakfast, cocktail hour, or access to a pool or spa included in your stay. Hotels also offer an added layer of safety and security, versus staying in a stranger’s home. Lastly, no hotel is going to tell you to clean the bedsheets, run the dishwasher, or take out the trash before you leave at the end of your stay.

Travel tips for getting hotel rooms cheaper

  1. Book in advance, but not toooo far in advance: advanced booking is important for hotels because you really don’t want to be stuck somewhere with no rooms left. However, book too far in advance and the hotels haven’t drop their prices to entice you to purchase yet. We recommend booking around 3-6 weeks in advance. But definitely don’t let that stop you from booking when you come across a really good deal.
  2. Shop on StudentUniverse: with hotel rooms up to 60% off from prices you’d find elsewhere, it seems like a no brainer on why you’d choose to shop here. Plus when we run additional hotel sales you’ll find even cheaper fares. And we don’t even make you put in a promo code to get them – it’s just automatically cheaper for you.
  3. Expand your search area: while you might be set on a hotel in a specific neighborhood, it may also be the most expensive neighborhood in the area (given how desirable it is). If you’re wanting to stretch your savings, try hotels in nearby neighborhoods instead, where you may see hundreds of dollars of savings on your trip, simply by staying a little more out of the way.
  4. Be flexible with dates: just like flights, hotels are often cheaper during the week versus over the weekend. Generally, we found that one night stays this summer were cheapest on nights from Sunday to Tuesday, or on Thursday nights. Friday and Saturday nights were the most expensive days of the week (because more weekend vacationers means the hotels can charge more for the night).
  5. Sort search results by cheapest: while you’ll definitely want to inspect a cheapest choice and make sure it’s not the cheapest hotel available for a reason, you might as well see the cheapest choice at the top of the results. That way too, you can just go down the list finding your perfect happy-medium between price and amenities.

Destinations with the cheapest hotels

Open to travel anywhere but just need to keep a budget? Choosing a destination with cheap accommodations is one of the best ways to save money. Especially if it lets you extend your stay and vacation even longer! Some destinations where you’ll find some of the cheapest, and we mean cheapest hotel rooms on our site? Las Vegas, Thailand, and even New York City

TLDR: with the right flexibility on neighborhood and trip dates, you’ll find cheap hotel options anywhere.

Well, have we convinced you yet? Book a hotel for your next trip with us, and save upwards of 60% off just because, no promo codes needed.