Photo by / Diego Cervo

Affordability and Experience: Airbnbs vs Hotels

Dubbed the “gay capital” of the South, Atlanta has a rich LGBTQ history and thriving community. A peak spot for gay tourists, the landscape for short-term housing has changed dramatically in the past decade, with the immense popularity of Airbnbs slowly declining in favor of the affordability of hotels.


While travelers have long turned to Airbnbs as a cheaper alternative to hotels, prices have been rising in recent years. In the past decade, the popularity of Airbnbs has exploded, with prices slowly creeping up to match those of hotels.


As a major city with overall high housing costs, Atlanta has been rated one of the top cities where hotels are more affordable than Airbnbs. In a study by FitSmallBusiness, which looked at price along with availability, location, amenities and other factors, Atlanta was deemed the second top city to book a hotel over an Airbnb.


Still, recent legislation has changed the ease and affordability of short-term rentals. In spite of the numerous benefits, Airbnbs also pose risks for hosts, including renters who may disrupt or damage the rental property and surrounding neighborhood. In response, many cities have explored legislation to mitigate these damages. Atlanta is no exception, moving to enforce punitive actions on so-called “party houses.”


Last year, Atlanta City Council passed the “City of Atlanta Short Term Rental Ordinance,” which requires agents to obtain a license to rent out residences, including Airbnbs, beginning March 1 of this year. Citing that “an over-abundance of short-term rental units in a community increases a commercial element to residential uses,” the ordinance aimed to prevent an overflow of short-term rental units such as Airbnbs from flooding neighborhoods, specifically ones that can cause disruptions to the neighborhood. The application fee for a license is $150, but the path to a license has proven difficult for some hosts.


According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis, only 10 percent of current listings have applied for permits, and fewer than 3 percent received one in the beginning months after the ordinance went into effect, leaving the future of the Airbnb market murky and unclear.


In spite of the negative impact of the prevalence of Airbnbs in recent years, there are numerous benefits to Airbnbs — for those traveling in large groups or who want a homier experience while visiting their destination. Airbnbs are indubitably still favorable for those who crave the more spacious environment of a house with the flexibility of choosing the type of housing one wants. Likewise, hotels offer conveniences, such as cleaning services or free breakfasts. While hotels win on affordability, Airbnbs are still a huge appeal for tourists.


For queer travelers concerned about finding LGBTQ-friendly hosts, Airbnb does not currently have a filter to do so. However, a variety of other outlets provide useful information for finding LGBTQ-friendly housing. Gay Atlanta allows users to search for LGBTQ-friendly hotels in addition to bars and clubs. also provides lists of LGBTQ-friendly hotels and Airbnb hosts. Finding a gay realtor through the Gay Real Estate website can help secure an agent for more long-term accommodations.