So you’re planning a holiday and you just can’t decide which one to choose, do I stay in a villa? Or do I go for a hotel? A post on a facebook group called ‘We All Love Orlando Holidays’ sparked this idea off in my mind and I thought I’d write about it. After all, last year in one-week Emma and I did both. So, I felt I would share my experiences of three pros and cons for each in an effort to help you choose. This is mainly aimed at Orlando holidays (see also: vacations), however you could apply the same logic to anywhere in the world.
Above: Take a tour of the villa we started in just a short drive from Walt Disney World, Florida.
I’ll start with the more commonly used option, hotels. It’s the default thing when most people think of booking a holiday somewhere. And yeah, there are a few obvious ‘pros’ to this…
– Room Service. Not only do you get a nice comfortable bed to sleep in, it gets made up for you each day, sheets get changed and the room gets cleaned. This gives you a nice break from ‘housework’ and allows you to fully immerse yourself in your break.
– The Restaurant. Speaking of not having to do anything for yourself, you’ve usually got a hotel restaurant for breakfast (and/or dinner) which means no cooking or washing up for you and the kids! That has to count for something right?
– The Pool. Oh man, the pool… Most good hotels come with a swimming pool, and usually those pools are pretty good. When we stayed in the Radisson Celebration in Orlando, we were able to enjoy the main pool, a water slide and an unbelievably warm outdoor hot tub. Plus, if you’re lucky, some hotels offer swim-up rooms or swim-up bars.
Above: Join us for a tour of the Radisson Celebration in Orlando, which is where we ended up getting engaged!
I’m sure there are many more ‘pros’ to staying in a hotel, but I won’t drone on forever. There are a couple of cons. I’m not going into the obvious Gordon Ramsey ‘Hotel Hell’ territory here, let’s just assume you’ve selected a moderately decent hotel. You might be considering the following…
– Noise. There’s no getting away from the fact that hundreds of other people are using the same building as you. Some of those people like to get up earlier than you. And some (grumble, grumble) like to get up at 5am and yell down the corridor at their children right outside your room. Yeah, that happened more than once. Most hotel guests tend to be respectful, but it only takes one to ruin a decent night’s sleep.
– Maintenance. I guess this is also a con for staying in a villa, but this tends to be more of a problem with hotels. Setting aside the obvious such as serious extension work taking place, you might experience smaller issues such as faulty bath taps, or in our case, a fire extinguisher cabinet which was bleeping loudly throughout the night due to it’s lock being broken. Hotels tend to be so large that there are bound to be a list of minor issues that need fixing, unfortunately your room might be on that list and you then have to go through the hassle of getting it sorted.
– Space. After all is said and done, it is only the hotel room that you paid for that is truly yours. Common space issues at hotels include, RESERVING SUN LOUNGERS WITH TOWELS AND THEN NOT USING THEM! That old contentious and highly debated issue… As well as potential issues in finding a seat at the restaurant and just generally wanting a little peace and time away from other human beings. If you’re somebody who, like me, enjoys relaxing by the pool in their shorts whilst holding a cold beer in the privacy of my own space. You might want to read on…
So, what is so different about staying in a villa I hear you cry? I mean, if you did cry that out loud, you’re weird. But still villa holidays (at least in my eyes) are completely different to hotels.
– Space! Picking up from the last point, the obvious attraction for a villa is that it is yours. You have your own kitchen for the week, your own bathroom, your own living area, your own pool… You get the picture. Want to slide around on the kitchen tiles in nothing but your pants and socks whilst strumming air guitar? Now you can! Not that I did that okay…
– A Home Away from Home. Incidentally, I used ‘HomeAway’ to book my last villa. It was great! Rather than a large, imposing hotel we had a homely little villa to come home to. We parked our cars on the drive and walked straight in through the front the door rather than walk from a large parking lot, we could leave our bags wherever we wanted and didn’t have to worry about being around a load of strangers. We could cook for ourselves whatever we wanted to eat, and we could fill the fridge with our own supermarket bought beer which saved huge compared to spending at a bar.
– The Pool! Now, I know I said a swimming pool was a ‘PRO’ for hotel stays, however there are equal pros to a pool of your own. You don’t ever have to worry about it being crowded, it doesn’t ‘shut’ per say so you could totally take a dip at midnight and there are no rules about inflatables and pool floats! You have the freedom to enjoy the cool, refreshing water however you would like.
Above: Before flying out of Gatwick Airport, we usually stay at the Hilton Hotel there. Granted, it doesn’t have a swimming pool, but it’s still a pretty good hotel and super convenient for air travel from London.
Whilst Villas ARE great, there are some cons you seriously need to consider before booking one.
– The Company. Let’s face it, the downside to villas vs hotels is that you’ll be sharing a space with other friends or family members and this might not always go down well after a long day of traversing the attractions.. In a hotel room you might be able to retreat behind the sanctuary of a locked door, but in a villa, you might end up on top of each other competing for the use of the kitchen or simply desiring to enjoy different activities. We found that sharing did bring the cost of it down, as it was split evenly 8 ways, however the trade off was indeed the aforementioned difference in activities. Thankfully, there was a pool and a games room to enjoy to keep people apart!
– Maintenance. Villas also have the potential to suffer from maintenance issues. In a hotel, you’ve always got the front desk to either call or visit and report your issue. In a villa, you run the risk of reporting your issue and not having it attended to for a good few days due to the local maintenance guy or gal being unavailable. We had a few issues with our pool; firstly, the timer on the spa bubbles was all out of whack and made no sense (we wanted it on in the evenings not the daytime and this never got fixed) and secondly the pool filter seemed to jam up a few days toward the end of our three weeks stay, meaning the water starting getting a little murky. It was reported and supposedly fixed but we did have to wait a while, which sucks!
– Location. Not so much of an issue in Orlando, but in other parts of the world your villa/AIRBNB could be miles out of the way. With a hotel, you know for sure that you’re going to get somewhere right in the heart of where you want to be. Villas may be a lot cheaper but the trade-off could be that you have to pay for train fares or car hire in order to visit the attractions you originally came to see. It’s worth considering.
So, which is better? A villa or a hotel? I’m not going to stick my neck out there and tell you to book one over the other. I’ve given you some pros and cons for each based on my personal experience, and I leave it up to you to absorb that information and tell me, which do you prefer? I’d love to know, either leave me a comment below or drop me a message on twitter @cptnmingo. My personal opinion? Well, it totally depends on WHERE in the world you stay and who you go there with, but next time I visit Orlando, I’ll be seeking out a villa for sure 😉.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this blog, be sure to check out some of my other articles and leave me a comment below with your thoughts. You can also find weekly vlogs of our adventures on YouTube right here.