As a writer who travels the world for a living, I have stayed in all types of accommodation, from five star resorts to affordable home rentals and everything in between. When I’m looking to immerse myself in a local neighborhood or travel with a large group, I prefer to book a vacation home. However, after reading reports of hidden cameras (although rare) in Airbnbs and other situations, I wanted to explore my options, so I started looking for other rental companies. Fortunately, there are many great alternatives to renting homes at Airbnb at comparable rates that offer much better value.
Vacation home rentals are a growing trend among groups of travelers seeking accommodation that offers the warmth of a home with the convenience of a hotel. Netflix even has a new show called “The World’s Best Vacation Rentals” highlighting unique properties around the world for a range of budgets. “Many of the amenities we experienced on our trip were things we didn’t even know we needed, like a llama yoga studio outside our treehouse in a bamboo forest ten minutes from the Atlanta metropolis, ”said Jo Franco, the show’s host.
GO AHEAD Airbnb home rental alternatives
With many newcomers to home rentals, you get additional perks and perks, including access to a 24/7 concierge service, the ability to earn and redeem points through a loyalty program and even a private chef.
“What we learned throughout the trip is that it’s definitely not just a bed that you book,” Franco said. “That’s all you have access to through ownership. Today’s travelers are looking for amenities that become catalysts for memories they’ll create on their travels. It can be as small as a welcome basket, or as big as a helicopter ride.
Alternatives to renting a house at Airbnb
I booked a stay on a few of the other home rental sites, and these are a few of my favorite companies based on value, price, and amenities. If you’re planning a trip, here are my top picks for Airbnb alternatives. Prices shown are subject to change depending on type of home or unit and availability.
This luxury home rental platform was launched in 2019 as Marriott’s solution to the growing demand for vacation rentals. The platform now has more than 30,000 luxury home listings in more than 250 popular destinations around the world. The upscale and spacious homes and villas are handpicked and professionally managed by local property management partners including Vacasa, LaCure, TurnKey Vacation Rentals and Reserva Conchal.
I booked a stay in a beautiful Malibu house offered through Homes & Villas by Marriott International and enjoyed contactless check-in and 24/7 support. But the main reason I recommend Homes & Villas by Marriott International is because it’s the only home rental platform that allows guests to earn and redeem Marriott Bonvoy points. Guests will earn five points for every eligible dollar spent plus bonus Elite points in accordance with the loyalty program terms and conditions. Marriott Bonvoy credit card members will earn 10 times the total number of points per eligible dollar spent (valid until December 31, 2021).
There is a three night minimum to make a reservation which can be a downside if you want to book a short weekend. Rates may vary by destination, but you get a better selection of homes and more value. For example, homes in Palm Springs range from $ 52 / night for a 1 bedroom to $ 5,121 / night for a stay in the famous Invisible House at Joshua Tree.
Sonder is a great option for long-term business travelers or short-term stays, as they offer fully furnished and fully stocked apartments in over 35 markets including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Reservations can be made and managed directly through the Sonder app, which I have found to be convenient and user-friendly. The chic interiors of the apartments impressed me the most. They are carefully designed, taking inspiration from the local neighborhood and town – and as a result, no two units are alike. Sonder rents and operates individual apartments or entire floors of existing high-end apartment buildings, which may already offer luxury amenities such as a fitness center, swimming pool and secure apartment building.
This TripAdvisor company is a vacation rental marketplace with over 830,000 listings in 190 countries. Since FlipKey is part of TripAdvisor, home listings will show user ratings and reviews, which can be helpful. There are two fees associated with each booking: a non-refundable booking fee and an owner fee. The booking fee ensures a secure transaction and includes 24/7 customer service, while the owner fee includes things like housekeeping fees. Ads range from apartments and condos to larger homes.
AvantStay offers more than 400 private short-term vacation rentals in the United States, and the company recently announced expansion plans in seven new markets, including Mexico, its largest international market. The hotel brand has a consumer app that makes it easy to access your reservations and all relevant information about your reservation, including how to check in and out using the contactless smart lock, rules of the house and useful details of the neighborhood. I love that AvantStay offers 24/7 support and flexible check-in times, which can be handy after a red-eyed flight. The homes are very family friendly and come equipped with an Echo Dot, Netflix, games, and outdoor amenities like heated pools and / or fire pits.
One of the disadvantages of AvantStay is the fees. Aside from the cleaning and service charges which are higher than most other home rental sites, homes in some cities such as Santa Rosa and Palm Springs also charge a transient occupancy tax (TOT) and sometimes even a tourist tax. In some cases, the total charge is half the cost of the reservation itself.
Designed for long-term weekly or monthly stays with a minimum of seven nights, AKA offers well-appointed serviced apartments that are perfect for business or international travelers and families looking for comfortable accommodation with a little more seclusion. The luxury furnished apartments are located in major metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC and London. AKA works the same as a hotel with luxury amenities such as 24-hour front desk, business center, in-house Tesla, fitness center, bike rental and gym private screening. The rates are relatively reasonable considering the accommodations and services you get. Additional charges vary by city, but may include a municipal surcharge and transitional occupancy tax.
Learn about the latest NBC News recommendations and buying guides, and download the NBC News app for comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.