A room with a view …or not

Where to spend the night on your travels? A hotel, a motel, a bed and breakfast, VRBO, Air BnB …. check out the hotels on Trivago or go with Expedia.  It’s bewildering for sure.

Of course as a travel agency our primary go to would be traditional style hotels through a wholesaler but even our industry wholesalers are becoming more imaginative with the selection by offering apartments and even bed and breakfasts.  All well and good.  You think?  Mmmm – not so much.

But why?

Traditional hotels are still my favourite choice because I usually know what sort of standard to expect.  A stay at a Taj hotel for example – I know it is going to be luxurious and I also know it is going to be expensive but perhaps worth every penny when staying in an unfamiliar and exotic location.  By the same rule of thumb I pretty much know what I am going to get when I stay at a Sheraton or a Holiday Inn Express and for value for money I really think you can’t beat the Novotel chain in Europe.  All known quantities.

It is a bit different with the bed and breakfast market.  We do have programs in the industry offering self drive with overnight stays at bed and breakfasts – mostly in Britain – and these usually work out OK but I have had problems with people arriving late in the day where the B&B owner has rented out the room and has protected that guest at another B&B property further up the road.  A bit annoying for sure but I guess the reasoning is that if they are offering 3 bedrooms and someone wants to rent the whole house then they are going to bump the reservation for just 1 bedroom for that night to one of their B&B colleagues rather than lose that big sale.

Personally I cannot stand a bed and breakfast set up.  I always feels as if I am staying in someone else’s house (which I am I guess) and I don’t like the lack of privacy.  In a larger hotel there is the anonymity that I prefer – but that’s just a personal choice.

Online hotel sites such as expedia, booking.com and trivago etc. ….well – where can I start?  First of all these are good reference sites for checking hotels and getting a general feel for price.  If you look at the reviews you find good and bad – as in any review site.  I always try to look at the big picture.

And then there is the new kid on the block – Air BnB.  Well not so new really as it has been around for 9 years.  Clocking in with revenue at 2.6 billion.  Wow – not bad!  This is how they started … (courtesy Wikipedia).

Airbnb founder Joe Gebbia (right)

Shortly after moving to San Francisco in October 2007, he overstayed with a friend for many months before he found an apartment. His roommates and former schoolmates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia could not afford the rent for their loft apartment. Chesky and Gebbia came up with the idea of putting an air mattress in their living room and turning it into a bed and breakfast.[47][48] The goal at first was just “to make a few bucks”

I really can’t see myself going this route although I know my sister has scored some lovely places in Spain and Portugal with Air BnB.  I guess it all comes down to comfort level.  Speaking of which – a close friend recently booked on Air BnB somewhere north of San Fran …. sent me this picture of the house where they had rented a couple of rooms.

Air BnB

On a positive note – the owners were apparently very nice people 🙂  (yep…that helps I guess).  I think there is probably only one thing worse than ending up at an Air BnB like the above and that would be an evening at Fawlty Towers.



By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. I’ve stayed in both a B&B and an AirBnB, as well as many hotel chains.
    I agree with you and prefer the anonymity of a hotel. The B&B (Banff) was wonderful, but the owners lightheartedly commented on our late return the night before (it was before midnight). We were very quiet, but had greeted another guest sitting in the common area. Obviously, we either kept them up, or awakened them. The Airbnb was in London, UK. Also wonderful, but no one on site for assistance or information, issues with appliances, no cleaning supplies to keep an apartment up to standards for 3 women for a week. We didn’t know about garbage pick up, so we kept our smelly garbage in the freezer. It made for a very interesting stay, with lots of laughter.
    All in all, I would do both again, but with eyes wide open to the pitfalls.


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