Vacation rentals: 10 alternatives to Airbnb

A 2,160 square foot apartment in Rome available for rent via the plum guide.
Photo: Luca Tranquilli

This story was originally published by Curbed before joining new York Magazine. You can visit the Curbed archives at to read all stories published before October 2020.

Thanks to well-known companies like Airbnb and Vrbo, short-term vacation rentals are here to stay in American cities. Clever apps and cheaper prices make booking a vacation property easier than ever, whether you’re paying to sleep in someone’s extra bedroom – the true definition of the “sharing economy” – or you were renting an entire house.

But the navigation has not been easy for companies looking to take advantage of the short-term rental market. Airbnb is undeniably popular: now in 100,000 cities, with seven million rental listings worldwide. At the same time, the company and its competitors have fought local zoning laws that ban short-term rentals and fought grassroots movements to limit where and how short-term rental companies can operate.

On top of that, Airbnb has come under fire for its role in campaigning for lax rental laws, been criticized for exacerbating the already tight housing market in America’s biggest cities, and faced serious charges of racism— highlighted by the Hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack. For some, Airbnb’s lack of transparency and questionable practices have driven people to look elsewhere for vacation rentals, even as the company strives to fight these problems.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up alternatives to Airbnb and Vrbo, the two biggest players in the short-term rental industry. Whether you’re using this list as part of a deliberate choice to back an Airbnb competitor — or simply because all your favorite Airbnb listings are booked — it’s a helpful guide to other options in the vacation rental market. .

This new site mixes the conveniences of the hotel industry with the conveniences of apartment rentals. Sonder offers a fully automated check-in process and provides high-speed Wi-Fi, towels, in-suite laundry and coffee in each rental. They are currently found in most major US cities, but have also expanded overseas with locations in Dubai, London, Dublin, Mexico City, Rome and Toronto.

A referral service originally dedicated to temporary housing for visiting scholars, Sabbatical Homes offers short to medium term rentals and home exchanges in 57 countries for both scholars and non-scholars. Low registration fees keep costs down (fees are slightly higher if you’re not an academic) and members set rental terms among themselves. Once a member finds a match, they can decide on an honor-based success fee of any amount that supports Sabbatical Homes and keeps the site ad-free.

This Portland-based vacation rental company may not be as big as Airbnb — it offers around 25,000 vacation homes worldwide — but it does offer a few key differences. Instead of relying on the house-sharing system, Vacasa manages properties and pays employees to clean and maintain them. According to fast businessVacasa workers earn at least $15 an hour at their jobs to comply with the company’s fair compensation initiative.

Even though Vacasa isn’t a peer-to-peer home-sharing company, it still offers good prices on vacation rentals and claims to provide more consistent quality than competitors like Airbnb.

This London-based startup bills itself as the Michelin Guide to vacation homes. The company selects its properties based on a 150-point criteria and a team that visits each home to test everything from neighborhood to WiFi speed, with a keen eye for interior design. With properties in London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Rome, Milan, Copenhagen, Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Lisbon, Berlin, and more, Plum Guide also has customer service that is available by callback, e- email or live chat.

Founded in the summer of 2016 in response to the racism experienced by people trying to book accommodation on Airbnb, Innclusive is a peer-to-peer rental platform with an admirable goal: “We are building a place where you can travel with respect, dignity, and love, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity.

The ever-growing site ensures that people cannot discriminate when booking accommodation by only showing photo IDs after bookings are confirmed; it also offers instant booking on almost any listing and prevents hosts from denying a reservation to one guest and offering it to another.

It’s the perennial problem for parents everywhere: hotel rooms are expensive, but many vacation rentals don’t offer enough amenities and conveniences to make it worth it. Enter Kid and Coe, a site launched in 2013 that offers plenty of kid-focused amenities. The listings tell parents exactly how many people – and what ages – the property can handle, and the site offers detailed descriptions of toys, baby gear and beds.

We love the amount of information provided on each property, with paragraphs on ‘Benefits for Parents’, ‘Why Kids Love It’, ‘Things to Know’ and even ‘Style Notes’ describing the decor. . The wrong side? Inventory may be limited and some listings are more expensive than on other sites.

If architecture and design are just as important as relaxing on your vacation, Boutique Homes might be the site for you. With a curated collection of design-driven homes – listed by invitation only – Boutique Homes offers spectacular locations and stays in some of the finest properties in the world.

Beyond architectural gems for your next vacation, Boutique Homes also offers an impressive list of event venues available for rental. Although the number of listings is significantly lower than other sites, jaw-dropping photos and fun descriptions more than make up for the lack of quantity.

Now owned by TripAdvisor, FlipKey is similar to Airbnb but features reviews from guests and property owners that are verified by FlipKey staff. Beyond that, expect the same experience as the other big competitors, and the site also offers payment protection. Note that FlipKey doesn’t offer shared rooms, but you can use many filters to find the perfect dog-friendly, kid-friendly, or waterfront property.

If cost is your main deciding factor, consider booking with Homestay. There are no private homes or apartments on this site, and every stay is a hosted experience. But by booking with Homestay, you get a knowledgeable local who can give you advice and help you navigate the city. There aren’t as many options in some cities, but the prices make Homestay a reasonable option.

With a focus on urban apartments, Wimdu has around 350,000 properties worldwide and is particularly popular in Europe. There’s a nice selection of well-priced properties, from a one-bedroom apartment in Amsterdam to a whole-house getaway in Croatia. Helpful filters let you choose property type, price, and amenities, such as whether there’s a washer and dryer or an elevator.

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