Vacation rentals: 10 alternatives to Airbnb

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

This story was originally posted 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 rented an entire house.

But it hasn’t been smooth for companies looking to take advantage of the short-term rental market. Airbnb is undeniably popular: present 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 the campaign for lax rental laws, been criticized for exacerbating the already tight housing market in America’s largest cities and facing serious charges of racism– underlined by the #AirbnbWhileBlack hashtag. For some, Airbnb’s lack of transparency and questionable practices have caused 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 listing as part of a deliberate choice to support an Airbnb competitor – or just because all of your favorite Airbnb listings are booked – it’s a useful guide to other options in the vacation rental market. .

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

A referral service initially dedicated to temporary accommodation for visiting scholars, Sabbatical Homes offers short- and medium-term accommodation rentals and exchanges in 57 countries, for both scholars and non-scholars. The low registration fees keep costs down (the fees are slightly higher if you are not an academic) and members establish rental terms among themselves. Once a member finds a match, they can decide on an honor-based success commission 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 has around 25,000 vacation homes around the world – 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 business, Vacasa workers earn at least $ 15 an hour on the job in order to comply with the company’s fair compensation initiative.

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

This London-based startup presents itself as the Michelin Guide to vacation homes. The company selects its properties based on a 150-point criterion 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, the Plum Guide also has customer service which is available by callback, email. or a 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-evolving site ensures that people cannot discriminate when booking accommodation by only showing passport photos after reservations have been confirmed; it also offers instant booking on almost all listings and prevents hosts from declining a reservation to one guest and offering it to another.

It’s the perennial problem for parents around the world: Hotel rooms are expensive, but many vacation rentals don’t offer enough amenities and amenities to be worth it. Enter Kid and Coe, a site launched in 2013 that offers plenty of amenities aimed at children. The listings tell parents exactly how many people – and how old – the property can handle, and the site has 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’, ‘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 relaxation on your vacation, Boutique Homes might be the location for you. With a highly curated collection of design-driven homes – listed by invitation only – Boutique Homes offers spectacular locations and stays at some of the world’s finest properties.

Beyond architectural gems for your next vacation, Boutique Homes also has an impressive list of event venues available for rent. While the number of listings is significantly lower than other sites, the 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 offers guest and owner reviews that are verified by FlipKey staff. Beyond that, expect the same experience as other big competitors, and the site offers payment protection as well. Note that FlipKey doesn’t offer shared rooms, but there are plenty of filters you can use to find the perfect property for dogs, kids, or by the water.

If cost is your biggest deciding factor, consider booking with Homestay. There are no private houses 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 accommodation a reasonable option.

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

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