Budget Travel’s 2018 Pick for Best Hotel Chain in America Isn’t Even a Hotel

Back in the day, budget travel used to mean camping, staying at a motel with few amenities, or asking friends or family if you could stay in their guest bedroom (assuming you have friends or family who live in a location where you’d like to spend your vacation). These are all still options, but they’re not the only options

Nowadays, you don’t have to settle for minimal amenities if you’re willing to do things like make your own bed and forego a complimentary continental breakfast. You can also stay in a wide variety of locations.

While staying with family or friends can be appealing, if you want to travel to a particular destination and don’t know anyone who lives there, you can still get the experience of staying in someone’s home or even their guest bedroom for a surprisingly reasonable price.

We’re talking about Airbnb. Yes, Airbnb has changed the budget travel world so much that in their first annual Budget Travel Awards, the editors at Budget Travel chose Airbnb as the number one budget hotel chain. They admitted that Airbnb is not actually a hotel chain but a vacation rental company; however, they said that since Airbnb without a doubt has what modern budget travelers are looking for, it was the obvious choice.

What is it about Airbnb that customers like so much? Budget Travel pointed to the ease of use of their website, the fact that they have properties available worldwide, that these properties offer unique travel experiences and that staying at these properties is an incredible value.

Airbnb is truly a unique way to travel, and there really are a wide range of options. You can choose to rent a room in someone’s home, or you can even rent an entire castle. There are options for families that include things like cribs, and there are unique options like renting a houseboat.

The amenities can be truly unique too. While you may not get turn-down service, many places include the use of relevant gear for the location, like boogie boards and beach towels at the beach. Many properties include toiletries and even have food in the kitchen (if you’re staying at a property with a kitchen), but it’s important to read the description for details because each property is unique.

Another great thing we love about Airbnb is that you can communicate directly (via email through the website) with the person you’re renting the property from. Many of the owners know the area where their property is located really well, so you can get the inside-scoop on great local restaurants and things to do. This allows you to experience your destination like a local. Of course, you can also ask questions about included amenities and any specific check-in or check-out directions.

We’ve stayed at several Airbnb destinations and enjoyed doing things like playing board games that were included in the room and being able to walk to the beach. Every experience we’ve had so far has been positive, so we definitely think Budget Travel’s choice for their award makes sense even though it is somewhat unconventional.

Have you stayed at an Airbnb property before? What’s your favorite travel destination?