As a one-week holiday in Sydney with two friends approaches, Paige Lee Pei Qi compares the wealth of options available on the Airbnb platform versus a traditional hotel website, in an effort to scout for a convenient and wallet-friendly accommodation test
APPEARANCE The website’s clean interface greeted me with a ‘we’ banner, and juxtaposed against a backdrop of changing destinations, immediately put me at ease. Website navigation was idiot-proof as all I had to do was to select my destination, enter my check-in and check-out dates and number of guests – and I was good to go.
I could further refine my search by making selections for room type (entire place, private room or shared room), price range, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and beds.
PRODUCT My main aim was to find an apartment with three beds in the city. I found one located along Kent Street, which can accommodate four pax and is a five-minute walk from Town Hall train station. The spacious apartment featured a combined living and dining area with a kitchen, and balcony. It also had 44 verified reviews.
I sent a message to the owner to enquire if the sofa-bed provided in the living room was a real bed. She replied within the hour, stating that the sofa came with a spring mattress and bed topper, which assured me.
EASE OF BOOKING I could book the place instantly with just one click. Payment was via a credit card.
PRICE This apartment would cost me S$213 (US$157) a night.
Parkroyal, Darling Harbour Sydney
Appearance The website greeted me with photos of the hotel building accompanied with bright lights of the Darling Harbour area. Website navigation was straightforward, and the check-boxes at the top prompted me to indicate my arrival and departure dates before it hunted down rooms for me.
PRODUCT A variety of rooms – ranging from a superior to an executive – were available on the hotel website. There was even a Darling Harbour room which overlooks downtown Sydney’s skyline. There was also a hotel e-brochure available for download if I wanted more information.
However, there was only one generic picture of the bed available for viewing when I took a look at the superior room.
EASE OF BOOKING Booking could be done instantaneously in my preferred currency. Upon confirmation, booking conditions were also flexible up to 24 hours prior to arrival.
PRICE For a superior room for three, it would be S$517/night.
VERDICT Given how both options were a stone’s throw away from each other and within walking distance of Darling Harbour, I chose the more affordable Airbnb apartment. I was also won over by the more unorthodox experience in an apartment where I could have access to a living room, kitchen and a washing machine (good for my one-week stay).