9 Rental Sites like Airbnb You May Not Know (but Definitely Should)
If the idea of staying in a cozy cabin, luxurious multi-bedroom house or sleek city apartment while on vacation is infinitely more appealing to you than a classic hotel stay, then it’s likely you have Airbnb bookmarked and ready to peruse any time wanderlust hits. But the app isn’t the only option for booking non-traditional accommodations. In fact, there are lots of rental sites like Airbnb that cater to all types of vacations, whether you’re visiting a big city or want to go way off the map. Here are nine other places to check out before your next trip for interesting rentals.
Best for Those on a Budget
Much like Airbnb, VRBO—which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner—has a wide range of offerings, from tiny two-person beachside cottages to enormous mansions that can fit the whole family and then some. There are both domestic and international options available, and many homes also allow pets—though there are also plenty of options for those who are allergic, too. Prices range greatly, from less than $100 a night to well over $2,000, and some offer discounts for longer stays or off-peak seasons. One thing to note is unlike Airbnb, VRBO only lists entire residences (there are no individual rooms for rent) guaranteeing you and your travel buddies will have the place all to yourselves.
2. Plum Guide
Best for Perfectionists
For those who prefer only the best of the best, Plum Guide is the way to go. Each home listed here has gone through an extensive and meticulous test with more than 150 criteria points examined—from WiFi speed to sociability of the space—all focused on increasing the odds of your having a “perfect” stay. The site also has a very reliable team of experts who can help answer any additional questions or address concerns with a quick phone call. As you might imagine, Plum Guide’s prices are a bit higher than Airbnb and start at about $196 per night. But the homes available, both in the U.S. and the U.K., are truly stunning (design aesthetics is one of the criteria measured in the Plum Test) making them well worth the splurge, in our opinion.
Best for Big City Vacations
While all the companies on this list have extensive measures in place to ensure hosts and homeowners live up to the expectations of renters, sometimes issues due arise. Sonder seeks to eliminate those worries by combining the fun of staying in an individualized location with the efficiency of a hotel. All the properties listed on the site are owned and operated by Sonder itself, so you never have to deal with a host who forgot to swap the towels or mixed up the key drop-off time. There are currently listings in 30 major cities, including Chicago, San Francisco, London and Rome, and almost all the accommodations are apartments or condos rather than houses, though you can also search solely for places with in-suite laundry, free parking or an adjoining outdoor space, if you want.
Best for Hotel-Level Service in Both Tiny Towns and Hot Tourist Spots
TurnKey operates in a similar way to Sonder, with the company managing upkeep and turnover for its 6,000-plus home rentals. However the homes themselves are still owned by individuals, which helps keep costs a little lower and allows for a great range of destinations. TurnKey has gorgeous houses, condos and apartments available in 22 states, and just like all three of the above sites it only lists full residences, no one-off rooms. Prices are typically higher than Airbnb, but for the ease of not having to deal with hosts (who have their own lives to lead) and the promise that your rental will always be freshly cleaned, stocked and up to snuff, its worth doling out a little extra.
Best for Those Looking to Truly Disconnect
Getaway is best for those looking to truly escape their urban dwelling and embrace nature in all its simplicity. And we mean truly escape as none of the tiny cabins have WiFi and, due to their remote locations, might have spotty cell service too, making them ideal for anyone looking to totally disconnect and refresh their mind and spirit. Rather than scrolling through endless listings of all sorts of accommodations, pretty much every Getaway location is the same and all have been pared down to feature just the things you need—like comfy beds with fresh linens, hot showers and kitchens stocked with the essentials. Right now there are Outposts (or cabin locations) near Boston, Washington D.C., NYC, Atlanta, Portland, L.A., Dallas, Houston, Austin, Pittsburg and Charlotte, with a Seattle location planned to open in the near future.
Best for Multi-Stop Trips
Like Getaway, Outdoorsy is geared toward folks looking for simpler, nature-focused vacations, only this time instead of renting a stationary cabin you can rent an RV, camper van or travel trailer so you’re not limited to just one destination. And like Airbnb, these campers are owned and maintained by individual people (i.e., they’re not part of a boring, identical fleet), so there’s a huge range of styles, sizes and levels of rusticity available to you. The owners can either meet at your doorstep or you can go to them, but either way you’ll get a full walk-through of the details of the vehicle before the key is handed over, so even those who’ve never driven an RV can feel confident hitting the open road. Outdoorsy also offers 24/7 roadside assistance so you won’t have to stress about breaking down or having to replace a tire while you’re on the go.
7. Marriott Homes & Villas
Best for Those Looking to Splurge
Much like TurnKey, Marriott Homes & Villas bridges the gap between home owners and renters to make things easier on everyone, with the added bonus that you can earn and redeem Marriott loyalty points here as well. And, as part of the Marriott Bonvoy group, you can also easily book tours and activities in the surrounding area, as well as car rentals, all in one place—in the words of our idol Ina Garten, “how easy is that?” There are tons of domestic and international locations to choose from, with everything from cozy ski chalets to literal castles available to book. And while there are certainly many super-luxe, high-end homes to choose from, there are also plenty of more affordable options, too.
Best for Combining with Car Rentals and Flights
You’ve probably used Expedia in the past to compare flight prices, book a hotel or plan a car rental, but did you know you can also book non-hotel accommodations there as well? When you search for your location and dates, just go over to the filters on the left and scroll to Property Type. There you can filter down to see only private vacation homes, cottages, townhouses and even house boats. There are often fewer options than with the other sites on this list, but there are some real gems hidden in Expedia’s listings, and if you book more than one element of your vacation together (i.e., a car and rooms) there’s the potential to save major mullah with a package deal.
Best for Also Planning Activities
Tripadvisor is another great all-round vacation planning option, with tools to help you book a home and plan activities all in one place. You can also hire a Trip Designer through the site to help do the research for you if you’re not the planning type. Unlike the other sites on this list, however, Tripadvisor lists both its own rentals and aggregates listings from other places, like VRBO, to give you even more options. As such, there is a very wide range of prices, with a ton of affordable places mixed in with more luxe accommodations, too. And if you sign up for Tripadvisor Plus you can find even better deals, with exclusive savings on popular properties, museum tickets, dinner reservations and more. And that’s not even counting the automatic 10 percent discount on all Tripadvisor bookings made through Plus.