I've stayed in dozens of accommodations around the world, and I always check Airbnb before booking a hotel

Left: The author sits on a gold bench in front of a gold bed in a luxury hotel. There's a red X in the bottom right corner. Left: The author lays down on her stomach with her hands on her cheeks on a bed inside a wooden barrel. There's a green check mark in the bottom right corner.
Insider's travel reporter prefers to book Airbnbs over hotels.Joey Hadden/Insider
  • I'm a frequent traveler who has stayed in dozens of hotels and Airbnbs around the world.

  • I prefer to book Airbnbs over hotels because they feel lived-in and offer more unique experiences.

  • Through Airbnb, I've booked tiny homes, cozy cabins, and even a livable art sculpture.

Would you rather spend the night in a luxury hotel or a wine barrel that's been converted into a tiny home?

Last year when I was in Switzerland, I chose the latter — thanks to Airbnb.

I remember when I first discovered the booking website. I was in college. Like many of my peers, I had the travel itch, but I had hardly any money to get anywhere.

During the winter break of my freshman year, three friends and I wanted to go to Colorado. So we booked an apartment in Boulder that we found on Airbnb. For four nights, it cost us $350, which we split between the four of us.

We booked the Airbnb to save money, but once we got there, I thought to myself, "This is so much cooler than a hotel."

Unlike a hotel, the apartment made me feel more immersed in Boulder. We cooked meals in the kitchen, spent nights on the porch, and enjoyed the comforts of a place that felt lived in. I didn't mind that the steps creaked or that I had to make my own bed. Staying in a home helped me feel more at home myself.

Left: The author in a bathroom in a white robe takes a full-length selfie in front of the mirror. Right: The author's hand holds a pillow menu on a white card.
The author enjoys the luxuries of the Bulgari, a luxury hotel in Milan, Italy.Joey Hadden/Insider

Nearly a decade later, I still prefer the unique attributes of Airbnbs over the comforts of hotels. I work as a travel reporter, and I've stayed in luxury hotels around the world — from the Versace Mansion in Miami to the Bulgari in Milan. I've enjoyed the pleasures of room service, plush robes, and pillow menus. But none of these high-end experiences have been as memorable as the Airbnbs I've stayed in.

My favorite part of Airbnb is the wide variety of unique places to book around the world

A peak inside the livable art sculpture the author booked in Rome.Joey Hadden/Insider

I've stayed in tiny homes, tents, and cozy cabins. Once I stayed in a geodesic dome in the woods of Ontario, Canada. Another time in Miami, I slept in a lifeguard tower overlooking the Florida Everglades. But my most memorable stay was in Rome, when I booked two nights in a livable art sculpture made out of scrap wood, broken tiles, and recycled car windows.

Nowadays, I still stay in hotels sometimes, but only when I've scoured the location on Airbnb without finding a unique stay that excites me.

Hotels offer me a comfortable place to doze during my travels, while Airbnbs give me another new adventure. And I prefer the latter.

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