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The Basics: Is a Vacation Rental the Right Choice for Me?

Updated: Jan 16

Understanding the nuances to choose the accommodation type that is best suited to your travel style and preferences.

Aerial shot of Go Your Own Wave vacation rental in Corolla, NC
The Basics: Is a Vacation Rental the Right Choice for Me?

When it comes to travel, one of the most important decisions to make is where to stay. For many travelers, the choice boils down to two options: vacation rentals and hotels. While both can offer a comfortable place to rest your head, there are some key differences between the two that can impact your travel experience. In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between vacation rentals and hotels to help you make an informed decision on your next Outer Banks trip.


Size, Space, and Privacy

One of the biggest differences between vacation rentals and hotels is the size and space level they offer. Hotels typically offer smaller, more compact rooms that are designed to accommodate just one or two people. Rooms are often standardized to look and feel the same. Hotels are also designed to be more communal, with shared spaces such as lobbies, pools, and restaurants, which can make them less private or even crowded depending on the season.

In contrast, vacation rentals are often larger and can offer more space for families or groups traveling together. Vacation rentals can range from small apartments to large villas or even entire houses, depending on your needs and budget. They're designed to make you feel like you're living in a home away from home. Many come equipped with kitchens, living areas, private outdoor spaces, and other amenities that allow you to cook, relax, and experience your destination like a local.

Amenities and Services

Hotels and vacation rentals also differ in the types of amenities they offer. Hotels typically have on-site amenities such as restaurants, bars, swimming pools, fitness centers, daily housekeeping, and concierge services, making them convenient for travelers who prefer not to venture out. These amenities can make your stay more comfortable and convenient, but they may come with additional costs.

Vacation rentals, on the other hand, are generally self-catering may have fewer amenities, but they offer more flexibility and independence. They often come equipped with more home-like amenities such as a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and even outdoor grills. This can be especially appealing for longer stays or for travelers who prefer to cook their own meals and save money on dining out.

Compared to a hotel experience, vacation rentals often provide a more unique and personalized stay, with the opportunity to live like a local. However, they might lack some hotel amenities. Some hosts provide essentials like linens, towels, and toiletries, while others expect guests to bring their own. Communication with your host about these details can help you pack appropriately.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Unlike hotels with daily housekeeping, vacation rentals have different cleaning routines. Cleanings are performed between each reservation, but otherwise any additional housekeeping is self-catered.

While both hotels and vacation rentals are susceptible to occasional amenity breakdowns and maintenance issues, the handling of maintenance issues can differ between hotels and vacation rentals due to their distinct nature and management structures. Hotels typically have dedicated on-site staff, including maintenance personnel, housekeeping, and front desk staff, available 24/7. If a maintenance issue cannot be resolved promptly and it significantly affects the guest's stay, hotels might offer guests a replacement room in the same hotel or, in extreme cases, relocate guests to another nearby hotel of the same chain.

Repair timeframes for vacation rentals can be influenced by factors such as the location of the property, availability of contractors, and the severity of the issue. Most vacation rentals have maintenance teams or contractors on call to address issues that arise during guests' stays. Once you report the problem, the property manager or owner will arrange for someone to come and assess the situation. The time it takes to repair the amenity can vary depending on the nature of the problem and the availability of parts and personnel. Minor issues might be resolved quickly, while more complex problems could take longer.

Hotels tend to have more established procedures for handling maintenance issues due to their professional on-site staff and standardized operations. Vacation rentals, on the other hand, can provide a more unique and personalized experience but might have more variability in how they address maintenance concerns based on their management structure and location.

Rental Rules and Policies

Hotels and vacation rentals have certain rules and policies in place to ensure the comfort, safety, and well-being of all guests and to maintain the overall operation of the establishment. While specific rules can vary, here are some common types of rules that guests are typically expected to follow:

  • Check-In and Check-Out Times

  • Noise and Behavior

  • Occupancy Limits

  • Smoking Policy

  • Pet Policy

  • Damages

  • Unauthorized Guests

  • Pool Rules

  • Parking Policies

These rules are meant to create a pleasant and safe environment for all guests. Before booking a hotel or vacation rental stay, it's a good idea to review the terms and conditions or guest policies to ensure you understand the rules and expectations. Rules and policies can vary widely, so it's important to inform yourself and clarify any questions prior to booking to ensure a smooth experience.


Finally, cost is a critical factor to consider when choosing between a vacation rental and a hotel. In general, vacation rentals tend to be more cost-effective for longer stays or larger groups. They often have lower nightly rates than hotels, and guests can save money by cooking their meals and doing their laundry.

Hotels, on the other hand, may offer more value for shorter stays or solo travelers. They often have special deals and packages, and guests can take advantage of their amenities and services.


Both vacation rentals and hotels have their advantages and disadvantages, and the decision ultimately depends on individual preferences and needs. Embracing the vacation rental experience offers the chance to explore travel in a more personal and immersive way, while selecting a hotel might ensure a more standardized, predictable experience. By understanding the nuances of both accommodation types, you can make informed decisions and choose the option best suited to your travel preferences, enabling you to create lasting memories in your chosen location. Regardless of your decision, be sure to research your options and read reviews to ensure that you find the best fit for your vacation.

Disclaimer: The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, Go Your Own Wave makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such material is therefore strictly at your own risk. Go Your Own Wave will not be liable for any false, inaccurate, inappropriate, or incomplete information presented on this website.



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