25 Best Airbnb Alternatives: Where to Find Special Places to Stay

Last updated on December 14, 2022

As you all know, I’ve always been a fan of Airbnb, but there are also plenty of other sites like Airbnb that I use to find special places to stay. As Airbnb has grown, it’s sometimes harder to find and book a unique and characterful place, so here’s the lowdown on my favourite Airbnb alternatives.

Many of these Airbnb competitors have properties you can’t find on Airbnb and offer a wider range of specialised accommodations. They often focus on a particular type of accommodation, such as glamping or more high-end designer homes. They’re all worth looking at, if only to spread the love a little among all the different providers.

The Best Airbnb Alternatives

Charming holiday homes in Salcombe
Year of the Ox – Plum Guide Salcombe

Plum Guide

This is my favourite site for finding reliably stylish and high end stays. A property has to pass a list of 150 criteria to be included on the Plum Guide site, and each place is handpicked and vetted by the Plum team.

Things like noise, unpleasant smells, uncomfortable mattresses and unresponsive hosts are things that will fail the test. As such, you know that all Plum Guide homes are of top quality.

Plum Guide started in the UK, but now has properties worldwide. See our guide to the best of Plum Guide London.

Check out Plum Guides now

Best of VRBO Palm Springs with Pool
Mostero House – VRBO Palm Springs


VRBO predates Airbnb (it used to be called HomeAway) and but is sometimes overlooked for its more trendy competitor. The photos aren’t as good as Airbnb, but that means you can find a lot of hidden gems that other people might overlook. And there are over a million properties to choose from.

It’s different to Airbnb in that VRBO only rents out vacation homes and doesn’t offer hosted stays, so it sometimes has a less personal touch and tends to be best suited to group holidays of at least three nights.

Of all the websites like Airbnb, VRBO is perhaps the most similar, offering even more choice than Airbnb. I have started curating list of the best VRBO properties, so that you don’t have to trawl through so many options and can have a shortcut to the most special and unique VRBO homes.

We have guides to the best of Palm Springs VRBO and Asheville VRBO.

Check out VRBO now

Photo by Home Stay

Home Stay

Home Stay reminds me of how Airbnb was back when it started. If offers people the chance to rent out a spare room in their own home, so it’s always a hosted, personal experience.

Where Airbnb has become quite stylized, Home Stay feels consistently personal and offers you the chance to experience life like a local. It reminds me of my couchsurfing days. And it also tends to have much more wallet-friendly prices than Airbnb.

It has fewer listings than Airbnb, but there are rooms available all around the world, including in Europe and the USA, so it’s certainly worth checking out.

Check out Homestay now

Where to stay in Laguna Beach - Surf and Sand Resort


Booking.com is my go-to site for hotel bookings, but they also list apartments and vacation homes too. I like that they tend to have a generous cancellation policy and I’ve always found them to have the most competitive prices too.

Plus sometimes a hotel is the best option anyway – especially if you fancy a little more pampering. For something in between, you could opt for a hotel suite or hotels that offer both rooms and apartments – that way you get to take advantage of all the hotel facilities, such as a pool, restaurants and spa, while still having that bit more room.

Have a look at our guides to the best hip boutique hotels for inspiration on where to stay.

Check out Booking.com now

New Zealand trip - Lauder

Home Exchange

This is an entirely different approach and one that Steve and I are huge fans of. It’s where you swap houses with someone else for the duration of your vacation. There’s no cost involved aside from the yearly subscription to the Home Exchange site, so you can save a huge amount of money on your holidays. It’s also a brilliant chance to truly live like a local. I’ve written a full guide to Home Exchange here.

You can do simultaneous or non-simultaneous exchanges with a specific home. And there’s also a point system, which means you can earn points by allowing someone to stay in your home, and then spend those points staying at a different house entirely. All houses have different points values depending on their size, location etc. This is pretty handy as it means you have a lot more flexibility when arranging where to stay.

We’ve been members for the past 8 years and have stayed in homes all over the place, including New Zealand, Barcelona and the USA. We are constantly getting exciting requests and this has fast become our favourite way to travel. We’ll be using it for a stay in London later this year.

Check out our full guide to Home Exchange

Road Trip Southern US - Sonder Savannah


Sonder is a bit of a Marmite option – you’ll either love it or hate it. If you’re looking for something unique and filled with character then you might not like it, but if you want reliably comfortable and stylishly hip luxury then it’s a brilliant option. We stayed in a Sonder apartment in Savannah, Georgia and loved it.

All Sonder apartments have a distinct, modern-chic style and feel like a cross between a boutique hotel and a self-catering apartment. They offer perks such as fast wi-fi, in-suite laundry, artisan coffee, high-end shower products, and 24/7 support.

Sonder has apartments in over 30 cities in eight countries, including the USA, UK, Spain and Ireland.

Check out Sonder now

Stay in a yurt, New Zealand

Glamping Hub

One of my favourite types of trip is a glamping weekend, and Glamping Hub has a huge selection of glamping properties all over the world. We’ve used them many times, including at this yurt in New Zealand.

They feature everything from bell tents to cabins to shepherd’s huts, offering unique and fun stays worldwide. It’s a good example of a website like Airbnb, but with a specific specialism meaning they offer a wider range of glamping options.

Check out Glamping Hub now


Outdoorsy is like an Airbnb for campervans. You search for your perfect RV and then book it directly with the owner. Because they’re rented by the owner, they often have more character than a traditional RV rental company.

Currently, Outdoorsy only operates in the USA where they have thousands of RVs listed.

Check our Outdoorsy now

Canopy and Stars

Canopy and Stars is similar to Glamping Hub, but only covers the UK and Europe. Their selection of glamping properties in the UK is unbeatable and all are vetted by the Canopy and Stars team to make sure they’re suitably special. As such, you know you’re staying in quality property.

Follow their Instagram for lots of glamping wanderlust – they have a huge selection of gorgeous stays. And also see their sister site, Sawdays, which specialises in special guesthouses in the UK and Europe.

Check our Canopy and Stars now

Oliver’s Travels

Oliver’s Travel’s specialises in unique villa holidays that are quirky, stylish and full of character. They’ve all been handpicked by the Oliver’s Travels team and feature everything from medieval castles to private islands. As such, some of them are wildly expensive (if you can afford it, why not?) but they also have some more mid-range options. Their main collection is in Europe, but they also cover destinations further afield such as the USA and Thailand.

Check out Oliver’s Travels now

More worldwide websites like Airbnb

One Fine Stay
Photo from One Fine Stay

One Fine Stay

One Fine Stay is a little like Plum Guide in that it features high-end, luxury properties. They also have a concierge service, offering things like childcare, private chefs and drivers.

TUI Villas

TUI Villas has more than 300,000 holiday and homes and apartments to choose from around the world. They’re quite family-focussed and you can search based on the school holidays in countries around the world.

Vintage Travel

Vintage Travel focuses purely on European vacation homes with pools. All are handpicked by the Vintage Travel team.


FlipKey is part of Trip Advisor and lists more than 300,000 vacation rentals around the world.

Agoda Homes

Agoda Homes is particularly popular in Asia, so a good option if you’re looking for a holiday home in Asia.

More websites like Airbnb in the USA

Photo by Getaway House

Getaway House

Getaway House offers a collection of tiny and perfectly stylish cabins in 13 outposts around the USA, all linked to major cities, including Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York. The whole concept is to offer a break in nature, away from the city, technology and work. And it all has a distinctly hip and stylish feel. Just take a look at their Instagram page.


TurnKey has a particular focus on customer service, offering quality vacation rentals with the amenities and convenience of a hotel.

More websites like Airbnb in the UK

Unusual places to stay in the UK - Red Kite

Host Unusual

Host Unusual catalogues unique stays, from lighthouses to treehouses and everything in between. It’s main inventory is in the UK, but they also have properties around the world.

Kip Hideaways

Kip Hideaways is a membership site that curates beautiful boutique rentals in the UK for 2-6 people. It’s £2.99 a month and joining means you can see the properties, contact the owners and avoid booking fees. They have a particular style that is right up my street, so I think it’s worth the joining fee for their curation.

Cool Stays

Cool Stays is another UK-based site that features unique and unusual places to stay around the world, such as boats, castles and windmills.


Snaptrip specializes in last-minute availability in the UK for holiday cottages, lodges and apartments. They have a hand feature where they can instantly show you what’s available for the next weekend.

Sykes Holiday Cottages

Sykes Holiday Cottages has a collection of over 15,000 traditional holiday cottages in the UK and Ireland.

Rural Retreats

Rural Retreats specialises in luxury self-catering accommodation in rural locations across the UK. They only accept high-end properties so can be relied upon for quality.

Holiday Cottages

Holiday Cottages has a curated selection of holiday cottages in the UK. All are inspected by the Holiday Cottages team and they pride themselves on their customer service.


As you can see, the UK loves cottages, and Cottages.com is another site offering holiday cottage bookings. They have the biggest selection with over 19,000 properties to choose from.       

Luxury Shepherds Hut Devon Airbnb

Further reading

We curate guides to the world’s best hip boutique hotels, best Airbnbs and Airbnb alternatives. Guides include: the best Joshua Tree cabins; hip boutique hotels in Palm Springs; Best UK Airbnbs; Best of Florida VRBO; and best hotels in Japan.

We also create unique itineraries, perfectly suited to creative people looking to experience the creative side of a city. See our handpicked city guides and road trip itineraries.

We have two sons and travel often as a family, including a month-long road trip in California. See our family travel section here.

Some of our most popular posts include: 10 days in Japan; best Europe road trips; things to do in Bristol; best afternoon teas in London; 31 Reasons to love Asheville; and the best sweet treats from around the world.

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