Hotel v Air BnB v Campervan Hire – Which should I Choose?
Already planning your next family holiday… where to go, what to do? Has the long-lingering pandemic influenced your thinking about travelling abroad or staying close to home? Having spent years believing my own country was a place I could explore once I retire, my own beliefs have been challenged as COVID has forced me and many others, to look no further than our own backyards for a memorable holiday experience.
This was the dilemma I faced last summer when it became evident the pandemic was going to hang around for some time to come. Having decided to explore my own country, what form was this holiday (or “Staycation”) going to take? Should I investigate hiring a cottage or an Air BnB? Do I travel in my own car and stay in hotels? Does the idea of motorhome hire in the UK and Ireland appeal?
Spoiler alert … we chose to explore Scotland in a motorhome, but let’s look at the pros and cons of each option…
Cottage or Air BnB
Cottage/Air BnB rentals come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in both urban and rural locations. Cottage rentals are ‘stay put’ vacations. You can usually travel to the cottage in your own car – saving transport costs and avoiding contact with others. Once there, you can have as much or as little contact with others as you choose.
The main advantage a cottage rental has over a hotel or motorhome holiday is space. If your family likes to have room to spread out on holiday, a whole house gives you that luxury. Everyone can have their own room, and a full-size kitchen enables you to prepare great meals. There’s no need to ration water for showers, conserve battery power, or a need to empty waste tanks, as you would do in a motorhome. There’s sometimes garden space for the kids to run around in and it’s usually safe to let them explore freely.
Cost-wise, cottages are a great choice for those on a fixed budget. You know in advance how much the cottage hire will be and there are usually no additional costs to be considered. You get to stay in the same bed for each night of your holiday and you have the advantage of unpacking and packing up your personal belongings only once.
Cottages are often located in scenic locations so you may enjoy great views, but the view won’t change daily. Opportunities to explore are confined to the area around you. However, if your holiday style is laid back and relaxed and you prefer to holiday in one spot, the cottage option is worth exploring.
Car and Hotel
Hotels have long been the ‘go-to’ option when travelling. Like cottage hire, they are plentiful and can be found in most places across the UK and Ireland. Cost varies depending on the location and facilities offered and hotels are ideal for short stays. You get a comfortable, warm place to sleep and don’t have to lift a finger to clean or cook.
On the negative side, you’ll most likely have to eat out every day and those costs can escalate, particularly if you’re feeding a family with large appetites like mine. If your holiday involves multiple hotels, it’s a pain lugging suitcases in and out from your car and having to unpack and repack each time you move. If your family has too many people for just one hotel room, the extra room adds substantially to the cost of the holiday and needs to be taken into consideration in your holiday budget.
There’s no outside space in a hotel room to call your own and it’s for that reason that our kids would opt for a cottage or campervan holiday over a hotel stay. If, however, you enjoy a comfortable place to sleep with a full-size, en-suite bathroom, a hotel staycation might provide you with your most stress-free holiday option.
To be honest, this option had never been high on my ‘to-do’ list until the pandemic struck. With five family members to consider, motorhome hire in the UK began to tweak my interest.
A family-size motorhome can sleep up to 6 people, so it comfortably accommodated us and our three kids. We got to share the experience as a family, not separated into different hotel rooms. We had a kitchen in which to prepare meals, allowing us to choose whether we ate in or ate out.
Motorhome holidays are great for kids. There’s a whole outdoor playground beyond the doors of the motorhome and countless opportunities for our kids to meet and play with other kids enjoying campervan life. For us, it’s a social experience. Gathering around a roaring campfire with fellow campers, swapping stories of the day and gaining inside tips on things to do and see in the area took us to places we may otherwise have missed and left us with many happy memories.
While we did book some campsites in advance, we liked the fact that we could make our own schedule and change it if circumstances required us to do so. On a couple of occasions, we were subject to the whims of the unpredictable weather the UK can dish up at short notice – sun splitting the trees one minute and rain pouring from the heavens the next. When it became evident the rain was here to stay, we simply headed to a brighter destination. The great thing about a motorhome holiday in the UK is that you can be flexible and you don’t have to travel long distances to change your surroundings.
Often, we got to choose the view we woke up to. Sure, we didn’t have the same choice when on a pitch at a campground but other times we were able to wild camp* – the amazing thing about a motorhome is that you can be completely self-contained for a short period of time, allowing flexibility to overnight at places where no other accommodations exist.
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any downsides to a motorhome holiday. Learning to manage your resources – conserving water and power for instance – may be necessary. Emptying the waste tank might not be palatable for some and finding places to do this may be time-consuming. We looked at this as part of the overall experience and have some memorable stories to tell.
Talking money now … in addition to the amount we paid to hire the motorhome, extra related costs included campsites and fuel. It soon became evident that a campervan is much thirstier than our family car! Overall, though, when balancing these out against the savings in food, the final cost was well within our budget.
* Note that wild camping is technically illegal in Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland without the explicit permission of the landowner. Before putting down roots for the night, make sure you have permission to do so and leave the site as you found it!
We chose a motorhome holiday with Bunk Campers on this occasion, but our family has also experienced both cottage and hotel holidays. You may be tempted to decide as to what’s right for you based on cost, but that would be a mistake. Don’t throw the budget out of the window but do take into consideration that all three options offer different holiday experiences. For that reason, it’s difficult to compare the three. When deciding what’s right for your family, ask yourself what type of traveller you are and book accordingly. For our family, hands down (pandemic or no pandemic), a motorhome holiday will be our go-to holiday choice for the foreseeable future.
If you’re new to road tripping in a motorhome, check out this helpful guide for your first motorhome holiday.
Check out our wide range of modern 2 – 6 berth motorhomes available for you to hire and hit the open road with your own home away from home.