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Airbnb & Co.: How to find the right accommodation

Hostel, hotel, motel - it's often just a single letter that makes all the difference when it comes to vacation accommodation. So you have to look very carefully when booking. And you need to know what is actually hidden behind all the terms. This is the only way to find the exact roof over your head where you will feel particularly comfortable when you travel.

From A for Airbnb to Tiny for Tiny House - we have compiled the ABC of vacation accommodation for you and also tell you which platforms offer the best deals.

The ABC of vacation accommodation incl. platform recommendation

All accommodation at a glance:


Since 2008, Airbnb has been revolutionizing the booking and rental of private accommodation. The online platform was originally called Airbedandbreakfast - because that was exactly the idea behind it: To give bed & breakfasts a digital place where they can be easily reserved.

However, bed & breakfasts are not a new invention. B&Bs have been offering bed and breakfast in the morning for years. These are often rooms in private homes or converted pubs or inns where the hosts also live.

Airbnbs are now the 'next generation': private individuals - so-called hosts - can sublet their apartments or individual rooms so that you as a traveler are much closer to the life of the locals. You live under their roof, far away from the tourist hotspots.

You can now book rooms or apartments on airbnb.de you can find not only rooms or apartments, but also entire houses, log cabins, tiny houses, farms, houseboats and even castles. There really is something here for every taste and budget.

Aparthotel - see Hotel

Apartment - see vacation apartment

Bed & Breakfast Breakfast - see Airbnb

Boats, houseboats and botels

Vacations on the water are possible on houseboats and botels.

Whether canal boat or yacht - you decide for yourself how much luxury you want and whether you want to stay on a mooring or cruise around. The only important thing is that you find out in advance whether you need a boating license for your project or whether a simple briefing and charter license will suffice. This is best done individually at your boat rental company.

Well-known platforms for houseboats are:
If you are planning a road trip and don't want to sleep in a motel every night, rent a 'vacation home on four wheels', a camper. In a campervan like this, you are completely free and can head for all the destinations you've always wanted to see.

Not all campers are the same. There are mini campers, vans with pop-up roofs, luxury motorhomes and so on. So think about how you want to travel and then decide on one of the eight camper types.

It's also never a bad idea to plan your route in advance and haveapps like Vansite installed to show you cool campsites.

Well-known platforms for hiring campers are:
You don't have much money in your wallet, but you want to travel the world? Then surf from couch to couch.

You can simply go to couchsurfing.com and search for a sofa on which you can spend the night with private individuals free of charge. But what does 'couch' mean here? Since the platform was founded in 2004, it has grown and developed rapidly. Today, the accommodation options are totally diverse: from a couch or a mattress on the living room floor to a perfectly equipped room of your own.

Well-known platforms for couchsurfing are:

And then
there's womenwelcomewomen - a community of women for women offering places to sleep together.

Holiday home

Own kitchen, own bathroom, own living room, own bedroom. In a vacation home, you have plenty of space and can really feel at home. You have a whole house or cabin at your disposal, which often also have a terrace or garden.

Holiday homes are popular because they convey a feeling of freedom and are less formal than hotels. You can retreat and enjoy having your own little kingdom. You also save money if you cook for yourself instead of going to a restaurant - which is really easy with a fully equipped kitchen.

How many rooms you can stay in and whether you even have your own pool or sauna depends entirely on what kind of vacation home you book.

Well-known platforms for vacation homes are:
Vacation apartments offer all the comforts of vacation homes - but are not outdoors, but are part of a larger residential unit.

You still have your privacy here. And your 'own' realm too, of course. Vacation apartments are often fully equipped. You even have a toaster in the kitchen and a hairdryer in the bathroom.

There are no extra services in conventional apartments. But there are also serviced apartments. These are managed accommodations that offer cleaning, room service and other hotel-like services.

Well-known platforms for vacation rentals are:
Have you seen the winter movie 'Love Needs No Vacation', in which Cameron Diaz swaps her California mansion for Kate Winslet's small cottage in England? That's exactly what home exchange is. It's an exchange between you and a homeowner that benefits both parties because you can move into a vacation home for free.

The unique thing about it is that you slip into someone else's life. You are in close contact with others, possibly look after pets and use what you find in the house or apartment.

However, you must also be aware that someone is living in your home at the same time. It is therefore important that you have trust .

Well-known platforms for home exchanges are:
Hostels are actually what we know as youth hostels - with the big difference that you don't have to be a member of a hostel, as is the case with youth hostels.

If you are traveling as a backpacker or want to travel on a low budget, you will be happy in a hostel. As a rule, you don't have your own room here, but share a dormitory and the toilets and showers with others. The great thing about this is that you come into contact with other travelers and can exchange ideas. This is especially helpful and balm for the soul if you are traveling alone. There's just one thing you need to bear in mind: where there are lots of people, there is often a bit of a mess. So always read hostel reviews to see how clean the place is.

Well-known platforms for hostels are:
At the hotel you usually get the "full service package". Not only do you have access to your own room with bathroom, but also to additional services and hotel facilities such as catering (from breakfast to half board to all-inclusive, everything is possible), reception, room cleaning, laundry service and much more. Many hotels also have their own restaurants and bars, and some also have fitness rooms or spa areas with swimming pools. For more action and entertainment, some hotels offer a hands-on entertainment program. These include games, creative workshops, sports courses and activities for the whole family.

Is a room or suite not enough for you? In so-called aparthotels, you can rent entire apartments - i.e. vacation apartments in which you also have a small kitchen or at least a kitchenette so that you can cater for yourself if you wish. Your apartments are cleaned in the same way as a hotel. You can also book aparthotels just as flexibly. While vacation apartments can often only be rented on a weekly basis, you can also simply stay here on a daily basis.

The advantage of a hotel is clearly the all-round service and the fact that certain standards are guaranteed. Hotels arethe 'safe bet' if you don't want to worry about anything else. The more stars a hotel has, the more luxury you can expect.

Well-known platforms for hotels are:


The word motel is short for 'motor hotel'. They are primarily aimed at car travelers and can therefore be found close to freeways or in conveniently located suburbs.

If you are on a road trip and just looking for a place to stay overnight, a motel is the right choice. You won't find pomp and luxury here, but the simply furnished rooms are cheaper than in a hotel, you don't need a reservation and the reception usually has a night desk. So you have the freedom to break up your drive and relax around the clock before heading off to the next destination on your trip.

Well-known platforms for motels are:
Resorts follow a similar concept to hotels, but go one step further: Resorts are completely self-contained complexes that become vacation spots themselves. Here you really do have everything right on your doorstep: entertainment, stores, restaurants, gyms, bars and much more. If you want, you don't have to leave the resort for a second of your vacation. And yet all your wishes will be fulfilled.

Resorts are particularly recommended for families. Many also have a kids' club - a kind of kindergarten where entertainment and fun are the top priorities.

Well-known platforms for resorts are:
The name already hints at what a tiny house is. "Tiny" is English and means "small" or "tiny". That's why tiny houses are also called mini houses. They usually have 15 to 45 square meters, which are used efficiently. Despite their small size, you don't have to do without anything. All furniture and equipment are stored in a space-saving manner. Everything has been thought of.

These Tiny Houses are often surrounded by greenery and are small oases of peace and retreat. So if you want to relieve stress, this type of accommodation is simply perfect.

Well-known platforms for tiny houses are:

House sitting - a type of accommodation like no other

Now that we have mentioned a wide variety of accommodation options, let's finish with a rather unknown alternative that is truly special:

With house sitting, you move into the home of another person who is on vacation. Unlike Home Exchange, you don't swap apartments or houses. Your home remains empty. It's more about taking care of your four walls - including airing, watering plants and sometimes even looking after the pets.

The platform that started this trend is called Trusted Housesitters. It's your chance to travel without paying for your accommodation and feel like a true local.

What do you think, which accommodation appeals to you the most?

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