An Ode to
the Hotel Stay

I hate to sound like a traitor to my generation, but I'm not a big lover of Airbnb. In fact, I've never booked one myself. Oh, I've stayed in them before. Usually with a group of friends in a house somewhere—which I believe is a great use of the global peer-to-peer rental behemoth. Otherwise, when I'm traveling, I'm staying in a hotel. Call me old fashioned, but to me there's nothing better than a great hotel when you're away from home. Why? Let me count the ways.

I want housekeeping and the ability to call down and have more hangers sent up for the inordinate amount of jackets I decided to pack. I want a gym and a well-appointed minibar stocked with local, artisanal treats and comforting junk food like Kit-Kats and Pringles. What I don't want is to do my own laundry or read a note on "house rules" or how to jiggle the toilet's handle to get it to work properly.

The Hotel Drisco room keys

In the grand European tradition, San Francisco's Drisco Hotel offers guests brass key fobs.

After all, isn't travel about getting us out of our daily routines and pressing the reset button for a fresh perspective? A proper hotel offers all the details to help you get there. Like so many things in life, it's the little things that make the biggest impacts. I love how a beautifully designed lobby instantly transports you the moment you walk through the doors. The furniture is cleverly arranged to invite lounging. Is that a signature scent wafting from candles? Why yes, it is. Scent is the sense most linked to experience, and this is an ideal way to make such an ephemeral experience memorable.

Better hotels pride themselves on the comfort of their beds. They tout pillow menus, offer cushy slippers and stock their bathrooms with high-end grooming products for a reason. They want to make it clear that they're here for your comfort. That's not the message you receive when arriving at an Airbnb that may or may not have enough toilet paper for your stay. No, that message is more, "you're allowed to stay here, and here's the WiFi password, but I'm only providing you the bare minimum—don't get too comfortable."

Ace Hotel Wings + Horns robe
Ace Hotel Wings + Horns robe

Let me put it this way, I don't want to have to make my bed on vacation, but I do want my bed made. Plus, I like taking a souvenir from my better hotel experiences and (I assume) you can't take things from your Airbnb host. My collection includes beautiful notepads on tasteful paper stock, well-crafted pens and ashtrays from European hotels. Even a laundry bag from a very cool Napa Valley hotel and spa. They're wonderful reminders of past adventures. Of course, they're not all free. An extremely comfortable robe, designed by Wings + Horns, once made its way into my carry-on after a stay at the Ace Hotel. It was kind of a dare, to see if hotels really do charge you when those go missing. It turns out, they do. So you might as well buy a new one from the lobby shop or website.

What I'm trying to say is that the best hotels come with perks you just can't get at even the coolest peer-to-peer rental. Will an Airbnb upgrade or reward you with a better room upon check-in after learning the reason for your trip is a celebration? Doubtful. But perhaps you don't care about a view or a complimentary in-room massage. I know people who are more than happy to simply have a place to crash and store their luggage. Or some crave a more "homey" environment.

While many cities and states are attempting to regulate services like Airbnb so they don't displace entire communities, the fact remains that a peer-to-peer rental is often cheaper than a hotel. And a 2016 survey found "79% of consumers who hadn't used Airbnb prefer traditional hotels, but that number dropped by half to 40% for those who had."

The Bowery Hotel burger
The Bowery Hotel burger

Lodging is a personal choice. It involves both how much you want to spend and what you value. I can appreciate the appeal of wanting to "live like a local" in a neighborhood and maybe Instagram a thoughtfully designed living room. To buy groceries at the local shop and make breakfast. It's just that I'd happily trade that for the promise of a nightcap at my hotel's rooftop bar or a burger delivered to my room at two in the morning. For me, I'd rather save money elsewhere on my trip and invest in the comfort and accommodations of a beautiful hotel room.

Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris

“If you want it stolen, put your logo on it.”

- François Delahaye, general manager
of Paris's Hôtel Plaza Athénée.

“If you want it stolen, put your logo on it.”

- François Delahaye, general manager of Paris's Hôtel Plaza Athénée.