Airbnb, the largest player in the short-term home rental market, has earned its fair share of criticism recently.
Local towns have pushed back against the rental giant exacerbating a housing crunch and destroying their sense of community. Visitors have complained about the safety and cleanliness of properties while neighbors have fought against ongoing Airbnb party pads.
Airbnb has responded in varying degrees to the complaints, but some travelers are still looking for a different option for home and apartment rentals when traveling.
Many people want something more specialized for families or a particular style of lodging. Others may want a rental property to be more connected with local communities, or a rental network that is just smaller and more visitor-focused.
Fortunately, travelers do have a variety of alternative choices outside of Airbnb for renting properties both domestically and internationally.
TPG took a look at a few of the Airbnb alternatives out there to help you determine if some of them might be right for you.
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Related: A dirty discovery: What I learned about Airbnb’s trip protection after an epic vacation rental fail
Fairbnb takes specific aim at some of the issues dogging Airbnb. As their name implies, the Fairbnb Co-op promises to be fairer to visitors, hosts and the community around them. Their booking fees are split evenly between the company and local community projects.
Fairbnb also restricts hosts from owning more than one rental property in an effort to maintain a closer relationship with the communities. The goal is to exclude the mega-owner property speculators, the types of rental property owners blamed for hollowing out communities and causing housing shortages, particularly for affordable living.
Fairbnb rents properties in nine European countries, including Belgium, Croatia, France Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and Italy, which has the widest selection of rental properties.
Rentals are on the budget side, beginning at just about 30 euros (just under $30) a night for a basic apartment to more than 300 euros ($299) a night for a two-bedroom home plus cleaning fees and a 10% booking fee, half of which goes to local projects.
Paris Perfect is the original France segment of the Vacation Perfect booking agency. It coordinates higher-end vacation property rentals in destinations including Bali, Italy, London and Paris.
Paris Perfect rental properties, and others in its network, are focused on luxurious and stylish apartments and home rentals close to popular tourist locations in upscale districts of the destination.
One-bedroom apartment bookings in Paris begin at $350 per night, so this is definitely not a budget travel option. But the apartment interiors and views are quite nice, and the user reviews are glowing.
“For Europe, one of my personal favorites is Paris Perfect and their subsidiaries,” said TPG editor Melissa Klurman. “I stayed in one of their apartments for my birthday and it was a-ma-zing.”
Kid & Coe
For families searching for child-appropriate lodging, it may be hard to sort through and judge the near-infinite options of a site like Airbnb. You’re never quite sure until digging deep into user reviews, and sometimes not even until you arrive, whether the property is right for kids. Website photos can be deceptive in determining if a house really has living space suitable for a family holiday.
Enter Kid & Coe, a rental company network specializing in kid- and family-friendly properties. Its staff and partners visit and curate a collection of homes with specific qualities that families may be looking for, like pools, playrooms and separated sleeping areas for parents.
Kid & Coe even stocks the homes with books and toys so you’ll have a bit less to pack for a family vacation. Properties mention nearby playgrounds and other attractions for kids, as well.
Kid & Coe sorts its properties across destinations worldwide, including prime European tourist cities of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lisbon, London and Paris. The company also features countryside retreats and island beach houses — some suitable for larger multi-generational family gatherings.
Onefinestay is the first-class, concierge-level collection of rental properties. Think lavish beachside resort-home living in Saint-Tropez, townhomes in London’s most fashionable districts or a villa on the shores of Lake Como, Italy.
The company can tailor your stay with concierge services including private chefs and chauffeurs, childcare, grocery delivery and booking services for area dining and events.
Rentals for Onefinestay begin in the $500 per night range and go well beyond $2,000 per night, with additional charges for the special services. The company has travel advisors who can help match you to the home of your dreams (particularly if budget is no object). They also have luxury options that can be affordable when shared between a couple of families.
Travelers who are interested in booking a short-term rental property, both in the U.S. and abroad, have many other options than the big names of Airbnb and Vrbo, particularly in Europe.
If you’re looking for kid-focused properties, luxury options in bucket-list destinations, or just a place that contributes to the community, it’s worthwhile checking out one of the choices above.
Do your own research on the rental websites, read the user reviews and reach out to both the company and the property owner if you have questions regarding a potential rental. Read the fine print on deposits, cleaning fees and rules of the home — luxury properties may have very particular rules and fees associated with them.
TPG will continue to monitor the short-term home and apartment rental company offerings and will report on further developments in this industry.
Featured photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images.