Japan Hotel or Airbnb – Which one is more convenient and cost-effective?

When traveling abroad, lodging accommodations play a vital role in ensuring your safety and convenience and keeping your trip within your set budget.

Hence, deciding whether to stay in a hotel or book an Airbnb during your stay in Japan should be dealt with before your departure. But which one best suits you and gives you a bang for your buck?

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In this article, we will discuss the differences, pros, and cons of staying in a hotel and Airbnb, and at the same time, figure out which is more convenient and cost-effective.

A person holding a door handle in a hotel room.

Hotel vs Airbnb

Traditionally, people stay in hotels when they travel, and are expected – and quite ready, mind you – to spend lots of money on lodgings.

Back then, it was because hotels were what was available, safe, and came with luxury, various amenities, and services that made life easier for travelers. Because of this, travelers opt to bring extra cash to Japan in case they need to pay with actual money.

Hotels have a concierge, cleaning crew, front desk for easy checking in and out, 24/7 security, and more – but of course, they all come at a price.

Meanwhile, the rise of Airbnb allowed travelers to get inexpensive – standard and quirky – accommodations, albeit one filled with rules that changes according to the host.

Moreover, people traveling in large groups can now stay in one place without moving to a different suite far away from where all the action is.

It also offers a “local vibe” to travelers since they get to live in a house that’s been a part of a long-standing community and experience how regular folks go about their day.

Kyoto, japan - kyoto, japan - kyoto, japan - kyo.

Pros and Cons of staying in a hotel in Japan

If you are a regular traveler, hotels will always have something good to offer – and some that you are not very fond of but still have to accept anyways since it is the “standard” for all hotels.

To better understand the advantages and disadvantages of staying in a hotel, let us enumerate the pros and cons of staying in one.

Pros

  • Hotels are easy to find since the buildings are tall and sprawling. They are also located in accessible areas and are near major local attractions.
  • They have a check-in area in the lobby. You wouldn’t worry about getting lost or unable to follow instructions on how or where to get the room keys – everything is provided for at the lobby by polite front desk clerks.

    Just be sure not to bring counterfeit bags, or you might get caught and be in trouble with authorities.
  • You don’t have to worry about the space, how your room would look in a picture vs in real life or the state and quality of the room you will get since everything is up to a certain standard.
  • You get quality beds, furniture, and top-notch service at hotels.
  • Hotels offer you total freedom from doing all cleaning and other chores. You can leave the bed unmade or the room dirty and come back finding it spick and span.
  • Safety and security are at the pinnacle of all hotels’ concerns. They have 24/7 security to ensure your safety and well-being while under their care.
  • You can take advantage of amenities like laundry, porter, housekeeping, room service, breakfast buffet, and concierge. They also have facilities like a spa, swimming pool, restaurant, gym, casino, and more.
  • Expect help any time and every time you ask for one. If you have any problem with the room you booked, they will fix it immediately, or move you to another room.
  • The staff is trained to deal with foreigners and can speak different languages to assist their guests.
A woman in a business suit is shaking hands with a man in a suit.

Cons

  • Hotels are expensive. Quality services and accommodations have a hefty price tag. A night at a mid-range hotel in Tokyo can cost $90-$180, while an overnight stay at a luxury hotel ranges from $270 up to $450.
  • They can get crowded, especially during peak season. If you hate crowds or waiting in queue for anything, this could pose a problem and cause inconvenience.
  • If you are staying for weeks or months in a hotel, you might feel cooped up or claustrophobic for staying in a confined area for long periods.
  • Expect banal rooms. Chain hotels, including those worth visiting in Kyoto and Osaka, are predictable and only has standard, luxurious interior room design that will not elicit awe from those who’ve stayed in various hotels in the past.

Pros and Cons of using Airbnb

Now let us talk about the popular Airbnb option we’ve been hearing raves (and rants) about.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons and staying in an Airbnb when in Japan.

Pros

  • It is affordable and more budget-friendly. You don’t have to pay extra for security, clerks, porters, and other staff so costs are kept at the bare minimum. Imagine only spending $148 for an entire apartment good for 5 persons per night and you know you are in for tons of savings.
  • You can travel with a big group and find accommodations that can fit all of you in without asking the rest to move to another suite. With Airbnbs, the more, the merrier.
  • Live like a local. Remember, you are in Japan to know what it is like to be a local, and staying in an Airbnb will allow you to do just that.
  • Do you want to stay in a tepee? How about Halloween-inspired lodging? You won’t find it in a hotel, but you will find one on Airbnb.
  • l May come with laundry and kitchen essentials you don’t have to pay extra dollars for.
A japanese house with a doorway and a wooden floor.

Cons

  • Constantly changing rules of hosts and shifting legal landscape. There are no standard and regulated rules, so don’t expect the same thing at all Airbnbs you will be staying in.
  • The host can cancel your booking without prior notice. Although Airbnb has laid out rules about cancellations and may penalize the host, you may still be left out in the cold in cases of double booking or cancellations.
  • Not all Japanese are comfortable speaking in English or other languages and communication might become an issue.
  • There are hidden charges you might not spot right away, including cleaning and service fees, which could cause the price to skyrocket. Be sure to read the fine print to avoid this problem.
  • You are expected to do all the cleaning and cooking.
  • Safety and security might be an issue. There are no hired security staff you can call for help in case of break-ins or muggings. You might find it hard to sleep at night if the Airbnb is located in the shadier part of the city.

Now that we have covered the advantages and disadvantages of staying in a hotel or Airbnb while in Japan, it is now up to you to make a decision.

Don’t forget to factor all in – convenience, security, affordability, and personal preference – when you make your decision to ensure you enjoy your travel as best as you could.