We love Airbnb — it’s proven to be one of the biggest game-changers in the hospitality and sharing economy. That being said, Airbnb isn’t your only home-sharing resource, and we also love a ton of the alternatives to Airbnb. View this list from the New York Times below:
When travelers think about vacation rentals, they almost always think of Airbnb. The easy-to-use site, founded in 2008 and now with more than a million listings worldwide, is the first stop for many tourists. Yet a handful of new contenders are striving to disrupt the vacation rental market by targeting specific kinds of travelers, be it families with children or jet-setters seeking luxury villas and airport transfers by helicopter. Below, a guide to some of the upstarts and, at the end of this column, a reminder of some veteran sites that all too often end up in the shadow of Airbnb.
KidandCoe.com: As any family with children knows, staying in a hotel room can be costly and crowded. This glossy site offers kid-friendly rentals with children’s rooms and amenities. The listings are geared to parents with details such as “one large kid’s bedroom with single bed, crib and toys and books” and “plenty for kids including a Maclaren stroller, highchair, toys and kids’ DVDs.” There are few properties in each city, however: A search for a Miami rental in March, for instance, turned up just three results, including one where the price was upon request and another on Hibiscus Island — with a “leafy courtyard filled with tropical flowers, ideal for a game of hide-and-seek” — that was $3,700 a night (it has four bedrooms and bathrooms, a dock and heated pool with views of the ocean). Don’t have children but want to stay anyway? The site is designed for families with children, but it’s ultimately up to the property owner to decide.
Pros: Elegant and spacious kid-friendly properties.
Cons: Limited inventory; few reviews from guests, which makes it difficult to gauge how likely you are to be satisfied with a particular residence.
PreferredResidences.com. This month Preferred Hotel Group, which represents 650 properties around the world, introduced this site for those seeking luxury bungalow, villa and condominium rentals (some with private pools and free car services) at upscale hotels and resorts, without paying for membership in a vacation club. You can filter for categories such as “style” (including “hip,” “romantic,” “stately,” “eco-friendly,” “tranquil”) and “interest” (including “food and wine,” “pet-friendly,” “honeymoon,” “L.G.B.T.-welcome”). Guests can also make last-minute spa appointments and schedule airport transfers by helicopter, depending on the location.
Pros: You’re dealing with an established hospitality brand rather than individual homeowners who may forget to, say, turn on the hot water or leave the keys; guest-reviews through TripAdvisor.
Cons: Limited inventory at the moment.
VacationsbyTzell.com. Tzell Travel Group recently announced a vacation site that includes a section devoted to luxury villa rentals. You can search by destination, specials and themes. A tab under “themes” labeled “unique” allows users to search for properties that are just that, including historic estates, private islands and celebrity hot spots. In Positano on the Amalfi Coast, for instance, a four-bedroom, four-bathroom villa with views of the sea can be had from 402 euros a night.
Pros: Easy-to-browse site; detailed information; nice range of prices.
Cons: There are tabs for guest reviews, but most of the listings I checked out did not have any yet.
Villas.com. You’ll find more than villas on this nascent offshoot of the lodging site Booking.com. There are chalets, cottages, apartments and condos, too. Introduced in May, Villas.com has more than 240,000 vacation rentals worldwide. Users can filter their searches for extras including pet-friendliness, free bicycles, barbecues, pools and nearby golf courses. Searches can also be narrowed by categories, including a property’s review score (from no rating to “pleasant” to “good” to “very good” to “wonderful”), price, number of bedrooms and parking. Unlike many rental sites, users of Villas.com are not charged a booking fee and they can see which dates the properties are available, eliminating the need to email the owner about scheduling.
WorldEscape.com. This site was reinvented last year when more cities were added, including Barcelona and Munich. Another recent addition: 24-hour customer service. You can filter search results by price, property type, number of bathrooms and neighborhood, among other categories. There are also filters for supplies like coffee, movies and books, and services such as tours and housekeeping. The site, which includes apartments, villas, timeshares, cottages and houseboats, may not have as many properties as others, but what distinguishes it is that the properties are visited by a WorldEscape staffer.
Pros: Some affordable rentals; no booking fees.
Cons: No guest reviews.
The Veterans: The following sites either predate Airbnb or were founded around the same time. While some are not as handsomely designed, they are certainly worth browsing, especially if Airbnb lets you down. VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) was founded in 1995, making it one of the online rental pioneers. The site, which has thousands of listings, is part of HomeAway, which was founded in 2005 and also owns VacationRentals.com and a luxury rental site, Luxury.homeaway.com. FlipKey, which has guest reviews and property owners who are verified by the FlipKey staff, is now owned by TripAdvisor (which offers rentals on its own site); it was founded in 2007. Right after Airbnb entered the scene, more sites began popping up. In 2009 and 2010 came OneFineStay, WelcomeBeyond and HouseTrip. Short on time? You can search Airbnb, Flipkey, Homeaway, VRBO and more at the same time (along with hotel rooms) on the aggregate site, AlltheRooms.com
This article originally appeared on the New York Times; you can view it here.