Hotels Vs. Airbnb For Vegas Visitors

If you have the idea that no “real people” live in Las Vegas, guess again. They do, and there’s a great way to meet them – while saving money at the same time.

Instead of fighting the crowds in a bustling hotel, rent a privately owned room from a Vegas resident through Airbnb, the online accommodation service that launched in 2008.

Log on to Airbnb.com to view more than 1,000 listings for Vegas alone. Filters help narrow your search by type of accommodation (shared, private room or entire place), price and location. You can view photos and read descriptions and user reviews. Once you’ve created your profile, you book through the site and wait for the host to confirm your reservation. Your payment goes to Airbnb (via a major credit card or PayPal) and is forwarded to the owner (minus a service fee) 24 hours after you check in.

Most of the time, an Airbnb rental costs considerably less than a hotel room. However, it means you’re staying in somebody else’s apartment. Whether the owner is home or you’re taking over the whole place, there are pluses and minuses, and we’ll get to that. But first, let’s consider some options.

The following examples compare rooms in three Vegas hotels with Airbnb rentals that offer (some of) the same amenities. We looked at a three-night weekend stay in a private room for two from May 15 to 18, 2015. 

On (or Near) the Strip

HOTEL: Wynn Las Vegas This luxurious 2,700-room hotel on the Strip has a distinctive contemporary style, with beautiful furnishings and bright colors. You’ll find all the amenities: pools, restaurants, gym, spa, casino, golf course and fancy shopping arcade. 

What you’ll pay: The average daily price for the Encore Panoramic Suite King is $715 per night, which includes taxes and a daily $29 resort fee. 

AIRBNB: “Two bdrm and couch min from the strip” It’s not on the Strip, but only minutes away in a “nice gated community.” Shaun, the 26-year-old owner, offers to pick you up at the airport and preheat the hot tub. A past guest advises, “Skip the pricey hotels and stay in a home with a guy who knows the city – he’s a native!” 

What you’ll pay: $80 per night, plus a $29 service fee for the three-night stay

The Resort Experience (Minus the Glitz)

HOTEL: Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South This 155-room property just south of the airport is appreciated for its quiet, in contrast to the busy hotels on the Strip. It has no casino, but it does have an exercise room, pool, business center and concierge desk. Guests can take the resort’s shuttle to the Strip. 

What you’ll pay: $167 per night, taxes included, for “1 King Bed” 

AIRBNB: “1 Bedroom and Bathroom in SW LV” The gorgeous free-form pool in this gated community is shaded by palm trees and open 24 hours. You’re 10 minutes from the Strip. Owner Jaclyn is “gracious and friendly”; you’ll feel right at home, especially if home means taking off your shoes at the door. 

What you’ll pay: $87 per night, plus $31 service fee

For Hiking Fans

HOTEL: Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa This 811-room resort sits at the gateway to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, with more than 30 miles of spectacular hiking trails. Downtown Vegas is less than 20 minutes away via free shuttle. But the resort itself has its own casino and spa, nine restaurants and eight lounges and bars.

What you’ll pay: $275 per night for a double queen room, including the $28 resort fee

AIRBNB: “Private Room & Pool near Red Rock” Stay in a modern suburban home in the quiet neighborhood of The Lakes, just 15 minutes from Red Rock Canyon. Guests may use the pool table, outdoor grill, hot tub and pool; there are shops, restaurants and bars in the vicinity. Owners Kyle and Kamila have two dogs and a cat. 

What you’ll pay: $77 per night, plus $28 service fee.

So What’s the Catch?

Saving money isn’t the only reason to consider Airbnb. Here are some pros and cons.

Personal contact: Through Airbnb, you get to meet a local, who’ll likely be happy to recommend upcoming events and his or her favorite bars and restaurants – and maybe even hang out with you.

Less flexibility: Most Airbnb hosts require a minimum stay of two or three nights. Check-in times might be inconvenient for late arrivals, unlike at a typical hotel, but that can be negotiated with your host.

Fewer – or more – amenities: Business travelers tend to prefer speedy check-in and may need a business center, hotel bar or restaurant. But Airbnb renters are often invited to use the kitchen, which may be stocked with breakfast goodies. And Wi-Fi is usually free. (Read Six Ways To Avoid Paying For Hotel Wi-Fi to reduce your hotel Internet bill.)

Is trust an issue? According to Airbnb, “Guests and hosts verify their IDs by connecting to their social networks and scanning their official ID.” Both hosts and renters establish an online reputation, since everyone can see how others rate them. And you can use the site’s messaging system to get more info, from hosts or other guests.

The Airbnb business: A few years ago, an entrepreneur bought an inexpensive Vegas apartment and quickly turned a profit by renting it out on Airbnb as an absentee owner. Obviously, Vegas has fewer restrictions than New York City, where owners must be present if they’re renting rooms in their apartments.

The Bottom Line

Airbnb offers solid discounts for Vegas visitors, depending on what you’re looking for. Staying at a private home may seem a little tame if you like being amidst dressed-up partiers, clanging slot machines and dancing fountains. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a peaceful room, a quiet pool or hot tub, palm trees swaying overhead . . . remind us why you’re going to Vegas? Just kidding. An Airbnb rental will provide a break from all the madness of the Strip and save you a few bucks to blow at the tables.

(For ways to save on hotel rooms, read Websites That Save You Money On Hotel Rooms. Heading to New York instead? Read Hotels Vs. Airbnb For New York City Visitors.)