The 10 Best Alternatives to Airbnb

Stay in billionaire's bungalows, artists' retreats and more

March 19, 2019 9:00 am

Airbnb’s got a pretty good thing going.

Remember when your older family members maintained it was too dangerous to use? They’re now leaving passionate reviews. The site’s cut enough into hotel business that the American Hotel and Lodging Association funds a group called AirbnbWATCH, which regularly sends out a monthly, fearmongering “Airbnb Exposed” roundup. (Not a great look, friends.) Not to mention, InsideHook regularly deep-dives the site for unique stays around the globe. The last feature in our series compiled Airbnb’s best vintage campers

We’re happy for Airbnb, and we recommend giving their listings a good look whenever you’re planning a trip. But we’d caution you from only sourcing potential stays through Airbnb. Why? You’re limiting yourself. The site’s algorithim keeps ever-booked homes and apartments at the top, and there’s a steep drop-off in quality, volume of reviews or information once you get to pages three, four and five. You can only read “BEAUTIFUL gorgeous hip cabin W/ lots of SPUNK” so many times before losing interest in your trip entirely.

Trust us, there is another way … or ten. We’ve rounded up ten alternatives for finding your next stay, wherever it is on the globe. One deals in locally furnished “hometels.” Another lets you stay in billionaire’s vacation homes. All will crush it on the ‘gram. This isn’t a break-up, Airbnb — we’re just looking for an open relationship. It’s 2019, after all. 

Our picks below. 

The Skinny:
 A legion of homes that must pass a 50-point inspection to join the site’s listings. Expect speedy Wifi, shampoo and a personal “Sidekick,” a concierge who will show you around your home and the neighborhood and make reservations for you at local eateries, distilleries and bowling lanes. 
Pictured: The Pablo, Barcelona, $96/night

The Skinny: 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 bespoke toiletries and linens.
Pictured: Leamington Cottage, Barbados, $545/night

Third Home
The Skinny: A travel club for the luxury set, 3H promises members weeks-long access to some of the world’s most expensive private properties (average value: $2.4 million). Think beachfront villas, country estates, actual palaces, etc. Following a pre-screening, there’s a one-time starting fee, and then an “exchange fee” for any property you’re interested in using.
Pictured: Tranquility Port Douglas, Australia, Fees vary

The Skinny: A database of sustainable Airbnbs, which launched a marketing campaign poiting out Airbnb has no “energy-efficient” filter on its site. It’s true. Airbnb has filters to sort homes by hot tubs, barns and castles, but nothing for a zero-footprint stay. Technically, this isn’t an alternative to Airbnb so much as a reorganization. You could do worse than Texan desert domes and Finnish snow igloos, though.
Pictured: Off-Grid itHouse, Pioneertown, CA, $400/night

The Skinny: A Chicago-born indie design and home rental group that hosts lovely properties all over the city — from Humboldt Park to the Gold Coast— some brief-stay, some long-stay, all playfully designed and stocked with blue-chip amenities. Following recent growth, there are now three Bangtels in New York and one in LA. Each stay comes with access to a 24/7 concierge service.
Pictured: El Motel Bangtel Tres, Chicago, $150/night

Bud and Breakfast
The Skinny: A repository of 540 420-friendly homes, cabins and bungalows around the world. A real thing, and ready to book. Some, like Eastport, Maine’s “Rose Bud” cottage, include weed as a complimentary amenity; others, like thiseco bus camp on the Big Island in Hawaii, go further than just the bud, promising a Woody Harrelson-esque, toes-in-the-sand, toke-under-a-palm-tree lifestyle, if only for a few days.
Pictured: Casa Wirth, Uruguay, $85/night

Love Home Swap
The Skinny: Airbnb meets Trading Places, this new rental service allows you to trade places with folks from a different home/apartment/bungalow around the world. This can follow both a classic model (in which two parties literally swap homes at the same time) or a more casual system, where you rent out your house over time, accrue “points,” and redeem them at your leisure in homes arond the globe.
Pictured: Bohemian Treehouse, Santa Barbara, CA, Fees vary

Boutique Homes
The Skinny: 
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).
Pictured: Xander Sponken’s Livable Sculpture, Spain, $391/night

The Skinny: Previously branded as “Flatbook,” Sonder originated in Montreal and has the city apartment on lockdown, with inspired lofts in Boston, Austin, Chicago, San Diego, Rome, London, Phoenix … you get it. While Flatbook trotted out a traditional host-guest model, Sonder has cut out the middleman. They lease and maintain each one of their apartments and design/furnish them to capture the spirit of the host city.
Pictured: Sunny 3BR, New Orleans, $163/night

Kid & Coe
The Skinny: 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.”)
Pictured: The Cedar Ridge Drive Residence, The Hampton, $400-1,500/night (seasonal rates apply here)

If you book through these links, InsideHook may earn a small share of the profits. 


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