Need to choose a condo vs. hotel for your next beach vacation? We debate the pro's and con's of both choices to help you find your perfect match.
Over the last decade, my family has made at least one beach trip every year all along the East coast.
Sometimes we've stayed in an oceanfront hotel, sometimes we've rented a beach condo for the week. We've enjoyed our experiences both ways.
To help you decide between a condo vs. a hotel for your own family beach vacation, I've outlined all the major deciding factors I've used to make the choice for our family.
Some trips call for one stay vs. another, this should help you decide what works best for you!
- Important Factors to Consider
- How Long Will You Stay?
- How Far Out are You Booking?
- How Much Time Are You Willing to Spend Researching?
- Last Minute Cancellation Concerns?
- Are Ocean Views Necessary?
- How Old are the Kids?
- How Important is Room Service or Daily Room Care?
- Do You Like to Cook?
- Do You Need a Pool?
- Do You Want Peace and Quiet?
- More Beach Vacation Tips
Important Factors to Consider
There is no one right answer between choosing a condo vs. a hotel, the final decision will need to be made based on the specific circumstances of your family and your trip.
I've included all the main questions you should discuss with your partner before researching and booking your beach vacation:
How Long Will You Stay?
3 Nights or Less:
If you only plan to visit the beach for 3 nights or less, you may be better off with a hotel, especially during peak season. Most beach condos require a full 7-night stay between June and August.
If you're traveling outside of summer, you may be able to find a condo for a shorter length of time, but the pricing might not make it worth it.
The final decision needs to be made on other factors.
4 Nights or More:
If you plan to stay for a longer visit to the beach, you may find a condo with the a full kitchen allows you to save money on food and is more comfortable overall with the added private space of a dedicated bedroom area separated from the living area.
We have found condos to be a much better deal financially for a week stay over a hotel.
How Far Out are You Booking?
For last minute trips, you will have much more luck with hotels.
If you're booking less than 2 months in advance, you will likely have better luck with hotels.
If you're booking more than 3 months in advance, your options for beach condos will definitely open up. We've found that the very best beach condos book up between 4 months to a year in advance.
How Much Time Are You Willing to Spend Researching?
Hotels tend to be extremely cookie cutter with one or two basic choices: ocean front or no? King bed or two fulls?
Pick your favorite hotel chain, find a location, you can have a room in minutes.
With beach condos, their vast variety is both a blessing and a curse. You can find condos of all sizes and configurations and many different prices.
There are some web sites that make it a lot easier to find a condo, especially if you're looking for one in Myrtle Beach. But I've easily spent entire afternoons (or more!) online hunting for the just-right condo to fit our needs.
The work usually pays off with a happier family at the beach, but it is an upfront investment of my time that I don't always enjoy.
Last Minute Cancellation Concerns?
When traveling with kids, you never know what might come up at the last minute: someone could get sick or injured, a conflict with school could come up, or there may be a conflict with work.
Or perhaps you simply want to be able to keep an eye on the weather and cancel at the last minute if you're worried about hurricane season.
If you want stress-free cancellation options right down to the last 24 hours, you're absolutely better off with a hotel.
Most condo rentals are non-refundable, be sure to read the disclosures very carefully on your particular condo listing since policies can vary widely even among properties listed on the same booking site.
Are Ocean Views Necessary?
This is where the decision to book a condo vs. hotel can get interesting. We've found it far easier to find beachfront condos than beachfront hotels. There seems to simply be a lot more inventory available.
Your biggest selection will come from the Myrtle Beach ocean front condos but Hilton Head, Folly Beach, Amelia Island, and Tybee Island all have options, too.
Beachfront hotels that come with reasonable family pricing vs. luxury hotels, are much harder to find. We've had luck finding them in the Outer Banks, Hilton Head, and Myrtle Beach.
How Old are the Kids?
Hands down, with kids younger than 10 a beach condo is far and away more comfortable. We loved being able to tuck them into bed and then enjoy a later evening on the balcony together for our vacation.
When traveling with tweens and teens, a beach condo is likely still going to be more comfortable overall. Several beach condos have more than one bathroom which is wonderful for sharing the space for several days.
Consider your privacy needs, I know my kids love not having to be subjected to our snoring in the night just as much as we enjoy the privacy from them!
How Important is Room Service or Daily Room Care?
When you rent a beach condo, you're essentially on your own for the duration of your stay. There's no front desk to call for extra pampering.
You need to hang your own towels, make your own bed, and sometimes provide your own toilet paper when the roll runs out.
Something spilled? It's on you to clean it up.
At the end of your stay, it will likely also be on you to empty your own trash to the dumpster and round up all the dirty linens into a laundry bag.
The upside of that is that you won't have the same security concerns about someone coming into your room when you're not there.
Do You Like to Cook?
If you love cooking, a condo is the way to go for sure. It is so nice to be able to even just reheat leftovers from a restaurant or keep your own wine chilled.
However, if you don't enjoy cooking be warned that your family may expect you to cook on vacation if a kitchen is at your fingertips! If you're dead set against it, a hotel is a much safer route.
But if you're trying to save a little money on the food budget, we actually like to dine out for our lunches and then cook our own dinners at the beach condo. You can see a full meal plan for a week at the beach here.
Do You Need a Pool?
This is a coin toss decision factor. You'll find that both some beach hotels and some beach condos offer onsite pools and hot tubs.
You're more likely to find pools at the beachfront condo hotels like the ones in Myrtle Beach. Sometimes they even have lazy rivers or splash pads and slides.
Do You Want Peace and Quiet?
While the right beach condo can be perfectly restful and quiet, it has been our experience that there is a bit more noise involved when we stay at one.
There's no hotel staff to manage disruptions so if your neighbors are playing music loudly or making noise in the halls, there's no one to complain to that will fix it on your behalf.
We've never had trouble sleeping and we've never had any conflicts that ruined our experience, but it is definitely a factor to consider.