6 Cheap Hotel Alternatives (that aren’t Airbnb)

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You’ve found the perfect flight deal for your upcoming trip but now you need a place to stay. You searched hotels in the area but they all seem overpriced. Plus, you are looking for a different type of experience.  An experience that a hotel can’t offer.  What’s next for finding the perfect place to stay?

Before a few months ago, I would’ve immediately said Airbnb is the alternative for cheap lodging.  If you aren’t familiar with Airbnb, it is an online marketplace that allows people to list, find, and rent vacation homes for a small processing fee. The main pro of Airbnb is that you are able to find a nice place to stay, for a low price and in an ideal location.

From customers facing discrimination to safety issues, 2016 hasn’t been the best year for Airbnb. Good news is that Airbnb isn’t the only inexpensive hotel alternative. Check out these 6 cheap hotel alternatives that aren’t Airbnb.


6 Cheap Hotel Alternatives (1)

HomeAway & VBRO

HomeAway is a vacation rental service with over a million listings in 190 countries!  The parent company owns VBRO or vacation rentals by owners.  Unlike Airbnb, HomeAway & VBRO charge a fee for owners to rent their properties on the sites.  In addition, the monetary transactions are completely between the owner and the renter. Whereas with Airbnb, they handle the money.

There are some awesome luxury properties available on HomeAway and VBRO.  In large tourist areas like the strip in Vegas and Miami Beach, there are condos available which are located in hotels. Therefore, you’re receiving hotel amenities at a fraction of the price by renting through the condo owner.

Flipkey by Tripadvisor

Flipkey by Tripadvisor is another vacation rental service similar to HomeAway and VBRO.  It is the exclusive vacation rental service provided through Tripadvisor.  With Tripadvisor comes awesome authentic reviews; however, there are much less reviews than are available on a site like Airbnb.  In addition, you have the option to pay for the rental directly through Tripadvisor which also provides for payment protection.  In the event you are unable to get in your rental or the property is misrepresented, you can make a claim directly through the Tripadvisor website. Per their website, there are over 300,000 rentals available which is a larger number but much smaller than VBRO but still a decent amount.

Similarly to HomeAway and VBRO, there are condo options in large tourist areas within hotels.  This is a great opportunity as you receive the hotel amenities for a vacation rental price.

Home Swapping

Home Swapping is when you literally swap houses with someone else!  This can take on different forms though – possibly swapping vacation homes or simply staying in someones guest room while they are home.  Due to the nature of homes swapping, this cheap hotel alternative is relatively inexpensive.  Often times, the only fee is an annual or monthly membership to sites where you can connect with others looking to home swap.

Home swapping is nothing new but it has become more popular recently with services like Love Home and Knok.


In the traditional sense, a hostel is an inexpensive shared living quarter which also provides food.  Hostels can often times have a negative connotation.  However, there are some nice hostels in the U.S. and around the world.  In fact, certain hostels offer private rooms for an additional fee.  Even if you don’t have a private room, you may have free wifi, the ability to secure belongings, and you are able to create a sense of camaraderie with other travelers.

Although I haven’t stayed in a hotel yet, for my trip to Spain next year we plan on splitting our time between a hostel and a vacation rental home.


The term “couchsurfing” has been used since the early 90s to represent moving from one friends place to another often sleeping on their couches.  Well, couchsurfing has taken on a new definition this decade!  A company, Couchsurfing.com, decided to connect travelers and the hospitality of hosts through its platform.

Personally, couchsurfing isn’t for me due to safety and privacy concerns; however it is definitely a low cost option to travel.

Innclusive (formerly known as Noirebnb) & Noirbnb

Both Innclusive and Noirbnb are new sites started as a direct result of issues with Airbnb.  Noirbnb was started after Ronnia Cherry and Stefan Grant rented a house in Atlanta in October.  During their stay, the neighbors called the police on the 2 believing that they were robbing the house.  Although Airbnb spoke with the pair about the incident, the 2 entrepreneurs felt it would happen again.  Thus their journey to start Noirbnb began.

Similarly, Rohan Gilkes felt discrimination on multiple occasions when he tried to book rooms on Airbnb.  The latest incident happened with a home he attempted to book in Idaho.  When he attempted to book, an owner said that the dates were unavailable.  However, he had a Caucasian friend attempt to book the same location and dates shortly thereafter and his friend had no problem.  Through multiple incidents of that nature that Gilkes experienced Noirebnb was formed which is now known as Innclusive.

Neither startup company has launched yet but they both seem to be similar to Airbnb with the goal of being inclusive for all.

6 Cheap Hotel Alternatives that aren't airbnb


Have you stayed at Airbnb or any of the above?  If so, what are your favorite cheap hotel alternatives?

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  1. Ive been considering using Couch surfing in Jamaica, but my husband isn’t ready for all of that lol.

  2. These are great, Tia!
    We have used Airbnb a bunch when we traveled internationally and we’ve always had nice hosts and have been able to choose great walkable locations for much less than a hotel. A huge bonus is that they have kitchens too, which makes it less expensive and healthier than eating out all the time.
    I wish that they were priced more competitively for one or two night stays in the US, but by the time you add in the cleaning fees it usually costs more than a hotel.
    We haven’t tried any of the others on your list, though, so it looks like we need to plan some trips!

    1. Yes, try some others on the list for sure.

      I have been able to find a few deals on Airbnb in the U.S. Plus, often times if it is last minute the hosts will negotiate price.

  3. This is wonderful! We are planning our dream vacation to Paris. These alternative solutions to hotels are a great way for us to save some money. I am so glad you shared this at such a perfect time!

    1. I know you all will have a wonderful trip to Paris! Hopefully some of these will help in planning. 🙂

  4. great alternatives written well and detailed… will share this arround as am not much of a traveller… thanks all the same.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing these other alternatives! I’ve been using Airbnb for 2 years now, and sometimes you just need other options to choose from! 🙂

  6. I didn’t know about all the alternatives so thank you for this list. I’ve always stayed in hotels except for a homestead stay in Australia and one in New Zealand. They were great experiences and I’m sure it would be like that in other countries as well.

  7. Haven’t heard of Flipkey, will ckeck it right away!
    It is true there are so many options instead of airbnb and I have a feeling hotels are dead already. My prefferred choice is hostels.

  8. Great tips. We also LOVE to use HotelTonight for great deals. Have you used that yet? If not, here’s a code for $25 for your first stay. JWILEY46 — We have gotten some SMOKIN’ deals with this app! 🙂

  9. I’ve heard of couchsurfing.com. I’m not sure I could do that! I’ve looked into hostels but have never actually stayed at one. I used to buy ice cream all the time from one by the beach when I lived in Hawaii… does that count? 🙂

  10. I know people who have had good luck with VBRO! I’ve always wanted to try Airbnb, but I’m glad you posted these alternatives!

  11. Thank you for listing all of these great alternative travel options. I had no idea that Airbnb had discrimination problems. I had heard great things about Airbnb, but it’s nice to know there are other options.

  12. I don’t think my nerves are set up for couch surfing and hostels. Especially since I do a lot of traveling with the family.I have never done Airbnb – pretty much hotels only for right now. Maybe when the husband and I do a solo trip.

  13. I haven’t used any of these but I’m excited about noirbnb and I might check them out on my next trip

  14. I don’t have any trips planned but I’ll have to check this list the next time I decide to travel. Thanks for putting it together.

  15. I personally wouldn’t couch surf. The other alternatives are cool. I also haven’t had an issues with airbnb as of yet and I like using them.

  16. I recently heard about Innclusive and Noir B&B via Nomadness, and I’m looking forward to when they launch. So far, I’ve had good experiences using AirBnB, but I do know that people get discriminated against based on their profile pics all the time.

  17. Every since the scary movie hostel, I didn’t even realkze the true purpose of a hostel. Lol. Great list! Will definiely share to my travel junky friends.

  18. I’ve used Homeaway before in South Beach a few years ago. The average hotel price was $200 per night for the weekend I was looking for. I was able to book a condo for $350 for the whole weekend with Homeaway. I will definitely check out Innclusive once they launch.

  19. Great list of some things I never heard of! I am sorry cannot do a hostel…well at least not now anyways I like my space too much when I am away from home. I heard about Innclusive in which I am super happy to support soon!

  20. I hadn’t heard of these. Thanks for the great info!


  21. We have used HomeAway and have been looking into FlipKey as well. Thanks for the extra info on these options!

  22. This is a great list. Outside of NoireBNB and Innclusive, I haven’t heard of any of these. Thanks for the heads up.

  23. Wow! Noirbnb makes me sad for people! I’m glad that those entrepreneurs are getting to capitalize on the thing that has caused them struggle! The ignorance of some people still astounds me. These are some great tips thank you!

  24. I’ve never heard of any of these and I’ve been leery of using or recommending Airnb based on some of the things I’ve heard in the news of late. Thanks for sharing these alternatives!

  25. Hi Tia,

    Thanks for these alternative recommendations. We’ve used AirBnb a few times now and never really had a problem (at least so far). I will keep in mind the first two recommendations that are quite similar to AirBnb. These gives us more options since we’re planning to travel out of the country later this year and next year. Great list and will be saving this blog post for future reference.

    New reader,

    Ron | Nearby Wanderer

  26. I’ve never heard of any of these outside of a hostel. Will definitley be checking some of these options out when I travel.

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