Whether you buy their claims as a champion of the middle class or see them as the face of an industry severely in need of regulation, this much is clear: Airbnb, like its bargain-hungry users, is here to stay.
What you may not know is they are far from the only homeowner-to-homeowner rental company at the intrepid traveler’s disposal. Herein: six more options for the post-hotel crowd, cross-referenced by use case and the best rental we could find on their site.
If the prospect of a search filter like "mid-century modern" gets you going, this is definitely the site for you. Boutique Homes has a peerless selection of houses for "chic nomads": it's the private equivalent of Tablet Hotels. Search for homes designed "by architect," and you'll get six pages of results, ranging from Off-Shore Loft in Santa Barbara (by Mark Kirkhart) to Bingie Farm (by Pritzker Prize winner Glenn Murcutt).
With its large pool of multi-room houses, VRBO is the best resource for family reunions and big gatherings. Looking for a wood-shingled East Hampton six-bedroom with room for 16? Yeah, they’ve got that. A 10-acre jungle retreat near Playa del Carmen that sleeps 35 and was featured on HGTV’s Extreme Homes? Yeah, that too. A 16-bedroom Alaska fishing lodge that sleeps 40? Yep.
If you are, in fact, traveling to make friends, you won’t do better than Couchsurfing. Connect online, show up, sleep on a couch, don’t be a dick, make a meal, make a friend — it’s that easy. And it’s free. It won’t make Couchsurfing a billion-dollar concern, but you’ll believe the company when it pushes its values (“share your life,” “create a connection,” “offer kindness,” etc.). Note: this is a lifestyle more than a lodging service, so skip this one if you’re looking to zone out on WiFi behind a shut door.
With onefinestay, there’s no need to worry that the homeowner didn’t properly tidy up in anticipation of your visit: the company cleans before and after your trip. (Their attention to detail is well regarded — and reported: A New York Times article quoted a homeowner as saying a book she’d left in a strange position was returned to precisely the same spot on her return.) Everything’s fancy — right down to the gratis use of an iPhone and its bespoke toiletries and linens.
Many of Flatbook’s best attributes are on the host side: hand over your apartment to Flatbook and they’ll pay your rent upfront, booking your space through Airbnb, VRBO and other listings sites. They also handle cleaning, pricing, and all the communication — which is a win for guests, too, since the company is responsible, rather than a potentially flaky homeowner. The selection is especially good in Canada, befitting the brand’s Montreal roots.
The best option for families. Toys, XBoxes, cribs, cots, high chairs, surfboards, car seats: you name it, there’s a Kid and Coe property that’ll be able to offer it to you. Expect vacation destinations from Cape Cod to Mykonos to Bahia. It’s a no-surprise philosophy for anxious parents, as the site makes full disclosure of potential trouble spots. (“The pool has no fence — typical for Brazil — and there is quite a drop from the terrace to the garden.”)