At the beginning of August, the New Orleans City Council passed a ban on short term rentals of whole houses not occupied by owners. New Orleans is not alone in this measure with similar regulations in San Francisco, Santa Monica, and New York City.
Many laud these new restrictions since Airbnb-style rentals have been found to increase property taxes, have negative effects on historic neighborhoods and tend to push out working-class citizens who have long called the area home.
Others are outraged by these new laws, saying that short-term rentals provide a new source of income in a gig economy and more affordable options for travelers of different financial backgrounds.
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Whatever side you’re on, it’s clear that consumers love Airbnb-style rentals because they’re cheaper, smaller than hotels, and tend to provide a more localized experience in a city. Despite this love, things are changing and we should expect to see more cities, states, and countries setting legal limits on short term rentals.
As this occurs, travel agents and travelers should look to a type of accommodation that provides a similar experience but won’t be affected by new legal measures: inns.
Inns and their similar bed-and-breakfast counterparts were the first types of hotels and typically offered a limited number of rooms, and food and drink options. As the travel industry boomed, inns fell out of favor in many parts of the world to be replaced by larger hotels and mega-resorts that catered to a lot of people in a big space.
With that, travelers lost the ‘local’ and boutique travel experience that inns offered. While some hung on throughout the years, like Longfellow’s Wayside Inn which is 300 years old and the longest-running inn in America, most people stopped considering inns for their accommodation. However, with the wave of laws and policies against short-term rentals sweeping the nation, inns could be the solution that travelers and travel agents are looking for.
Earlier this month, I stayed at Rathbone Mansions, a New Orleans inn comprised of two buildings built in the mid-1800s. Rathbone Mansions is located in between the Treme and Marigny neighborhoods and is a 15 to 20-minute walk to the French Quarter.
During my four-day stay, I quickly realized that inns like Rathbone Mansions are the answer to a question we didn’t realize we were asking.
I was set up in a two-bedroom suite outfitted in a charming décor that included historic pieces and modern art that captured the spirit of New Orleans. The suite included a flat-screen TV, a small kitchenette, an en-suite bathroom, and lots of room to spread out.
Rathbone Mansions also had a small pool and hot tub, a charming courtyard to relax in, a self-use laundry room, and daily continental breakfast.
I’ve stayed in hotels and Airbnbs. Hotels are attractive because I’m well taken care of and the amenities are numerous, but I like Airbnbs because I’m able to use a kitchen, it’s cheaper, and I feel like I “live” in the area in which I’m visiting.
However, after staying at Rathbone Mansions, I realized that I was getting the best of the hotel and short-term rental worlds at this charming inn, and other travelers can experience this too.
Inns are not always the easiest to find, especially since most people assume they’ll pop up when you search for “hotels in Chicago.” Often, that’s not the case and you have to Google things like “inns of Chicago,” or “bed and breakfasts in Chicago.”
When you do find an inn you like, their website capabilities aren’t always to the standard of a hotel and that can be frustrating, but I implore you to persist. Websites like bedandbreakfast.com, selectregistry.com, and bnbfinder.com are great resources to find inns and they often come with great reviews and supplemental information.
Travel agents will be happy to hear that some inns and bed-and-breakfast properties offer commission, often through booking platforms.
I can’t predict the future of the travel industry, but there are a few things I know. People love Airbnb and short-term rentals, despite the negative effects they have on a city. On the other hand, laws and policies that limit short-term rentals in cities will continue on. Hotel brands like Choice and Marriott have been looking for ways to battle the short-term rental craze with their own home rental programs, but they too may suffer from new regulations.
While all that is going on, I’d turn your attention to inns and bed-and-breakfasts. They may be an old-fashioned form of accommodation, but they’re in the right spot to give travelers of today everything they want in a place to stay.