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Airbnb competitors: a cabin on a lake

9 Airbnb Competitors to Consider for Your Next Trip

Last updated: August 28, 2019
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Airbnb is an excellent tool to find a place to stay when you’re traveling. Whether you’re going on a quick weekend getaway, a business trip, or a honeymoon, Airbnb has a property to fit your budget and needs. As revolutionary as the company is, however, it’s far from the only player in the vacation rental marketplace. There are lots of Airbnb competitors out there that are worth considering for your next trip.

In this guide, we’re going to look at some great alternatives to Airbnb, with the goal of helping you find the perfect short-term rental or vacation property for your budget, lifestyle, and trip.

Reasons to Consider Airbnb Competitors

While Airbnb is often a superior choice to hotels in terms of price and personality, it’s not the right choice for everyone. To start, some people dislike the idea of staying with a stranger in their home. While there are certainly many Airbnb properties that let you have an entire home or apartment to yourself, such properties can end up being more expensive than a hotel, making them less appealing to guests on a budget who still value privacy.

Furthermore, the potential for dealing with a bad property owner in person turns some people off Airbnb. Some travelers aren’t comfortable sharing a space with their Airbnb host. While negative experiences with the platform are extremely rare, they are possible. For this reason, some travelers prefer to use a site that more rigorously vets the listed properties. We’ll discuss several such options below.

Additionally, some travelers dislike the lack of hotel amenities like housekeeping, room service, and a concierge. If these services are important to you, then Airbnb is not the best platform for your needs. Luckily, there are still plenty of Airbnb competitors available to find deals on excellent hotels and resorts that do offer these services, as we’ll see below.

Finally, some people dislike the pricing structure that Airbnb uses. This can certainly be a frustrating part of using the platform. You’ll see a price that looks reasonable for your budget, but once you’ve picked the nights you want to stay and looked at the total, you realize the sticker price doesn’t include the Airbnb service fee, cleaning fees, and security deposit.

While these fees aren’t unique to Airbnb, there are other platforms that more effectively show the total price upfront, allowing you to more quickly decide if a property matches your budget. We’ll examine several such options in this article.

9 Airbnb Competitors to Consider

Now that we’ve gone over some reasons to consider alternative accommodations to Airbnb, let’s take a look at nine of the best options out there. The good news is that the rental industry has expanded far beyond simply booking a traditional hotel for a trip. There are a variety of booking sites offering rental properties ranging from family-friendly vacation homes to luxury urban penthouses to crashing on someone’s couch for free. Here are our top Airbnb competitors that will be perfect for your next trip.

1. HomeAway

We’ll start our list with HomeAway, which is an online vacation rental marketplace that, at first glance, is quite similar to Airbnb. Both sites target vacation travelers, although you could certainly use them for other travel and temporary lodging purposes if you prefer.

The main difference between HomeAway and Airbnb is that HomeAway focuses exclusively on whole home rentals. You won’t find any shared apartments or rooms in houses for rent on HomeAway. Instead, the idea is that you can book a place with “all the comforts of home” while you’re on vacation.

In practice, the inventory on HomeAway still varies substantially. You’ll find everything from rustic cabins and cottages to urban apartments and luxury seaside villas. And you can sort homes based on factors like price, property type, location, and amenities.

In general, the properties on HomeAway tend to be a bit more expensive than those on Airbnb. This is mainly because all properties listed on HomeAway are entire homes. Airbnb is able to offer cheaper options because it allows hosts to rent out rooms or even just air mattresses on the floor. If you compare the two services based on their whole home rental options, the prices tend to be similar.

As far as locations, HomeAway boasts properties in a variety of countries. Whether you’re looking for a country villa in Europe, a beach house in Florida, or a flat in Asia, you’ll be able to find it on the platform. For more information about how HomeAway and Airbnb compare, check out our comprehensive Airbnb vs. HomeAway guide.

HomeAway also owns VacationRentals.com and VRBO. Both websites are virtually identical to HomeAway and offer almost the same properties for rent. Therefore, we won’t discuss them separately, but they are similarly good Airbnb competitors.

2. Homestay

Airbnb competitors: a beach house

Up next, we have something a bit different. Homestay is a service that focuses on helping you find accommodations in the homes of families around the world. Unlike Airbnb, it only focuses on shared accommodations.

Additionally, the idea behind Homestay is that you don’t just stay in someone’s home, you get to experience their culture firsthand. It’s less transactional than Airbnb, though the service isn’t free. Generally, however, Homestay rooms tend to cost less than those on Airbnb.

The tradeoff, of course, is that the places you stay can be pretty basic in terms of their accommodations. If your goal for traveling is to learn a new language or experience a new culture, then Homestay is the perfect option. It’s particularly appealing for students studying abroad, as it fits a student budget and offers the chance for greater cultural immersion than living in a dorm.

3. Booking.com

Booking.com is the first site we’ve discussed on this list that doesn’t just focus on accommodations. Certainly, that’s a major part of Booking.com’s business, but the site also allows you to search for and book flights, car rentals, and airport taxis. They even offer package deals that let you book a flight and hotel together.

That being said, Booking.com doesn’t just let you book hotels. You can also book a variety of other property types, including serviced apartments, villas, hostels, vacation homes, and cabins (to name just a few). All of these property types are also available on Airbnb, of course, though Booking.com does make it a bit easier to sort through the different property types.

As far as price, the options on Booking.com vary about as much as they do on Airbnb. You can find $15 per night campsites and $1,500 per night penthouses. The main thing that Booking.com excels at is letting you book a full vacation. You can book your accommodation, flight, and rental car all without leaving the site, making it perfect for travelers who want an all-in-one solution.

4. TripAdvisor

If you’ve heard of TripAdvisor, it’s probably because you used their site to find the best things to do while on vacation. However, TripAdvisor also offers a variety of booking features, including vacation rentals, rental cars, flights, and even cruises.

In terms of how the site compares to other Airbnb competitors, TripAdvisor is similar to Booking.com. It’s a site where you can book accommodation, but it also lets you book a variety of other things you might need for a vacation. The main advantage compared to Airbnb, however, is that you can also use TripAdvisor to plan what to do while on your trip. You can find the best restaurants, attractions, shopping, and more. In terms of booking places to stay, however, there isn’t a lot of meaningful difference between the two sites.

TripAdvisor also owns FlipKey. There isn’t much difference between the two in terms of booking accommodation, as the properties listed on FlipKey are the same ones on TripAdvisor. Therefore, we won’t be covering FlipKey in detail. The same is true of HouseTrip, which has a slightly different design but includes all the same properties as TripAdvisor. All three are similarly good Airbnb alternatives.

5. Expedia

Expedia is a site that lets you book hotels, flights, car rentals, cruises, activities, and vacation rentals. It’s similar to Booking.com in this respect, though it’s even more focused on vacation bundles that include a hotel, flight, and car rental.

The key difference between Airbnb and Expedia, however, is that the site principally focuses on hotels in its accommodation offerings. The site does let you book houses or apartments, but the experience is less personal than Airbnb. The properties tend to be owned by large holding groups, not by individuals. It’s a lot more like staying in a hotel, except you get more space.

The prices also tend to be higher than Airbnb on average since you can only choose entire homes, not rooms in shared spaces. Depending on your needs, this may be a benefit, but it makes the accommodations booking aspect of Expedia less useful for budget travelers.

In terms of countries, you can use Expedia to book places anywhere in the world. Whether you’re looking for a European vacation, an African safari, or a dream trip down under in Australia and New Zealand, Expedia has you covered.

6. KAYAK

Airbnb competitors: the Vegas strip

KAYAK, at its core, is a travel search engine. The company doesn’t offer direct bookings of its own. Instead it allows you to “search hundreds of travel sites at once.” You can compare prices on flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages.

In a notable difference from Airbnb and many of the other sites we’ve covered in this guide, KAYAK only allows you to search for hotels. You won’t find any vacation rentals listed on the site, so it’s not the best option if you’re looking to rent an entire home or apartment.

The main advantage of using KAYAK over Airbnb is that you can compare prices from lots of different sites at once. It’s great if you need a last minute hotel room and don’t want to overpay. Of course, properties from Airbnb and other sites that let you rent full homes or apartments aren’t included, so you don’t get a full picture of the accommodation and price landscape at your destination. If you know you want to stay in a hotel, however, KAYAK can be a valuable resource to book your accommodation and other key aspects of your trip.

7. Tripping.com

Tripping.com is another travel search engine, but it’s different from KAYAK in that it focuses only on short-term vacation rentals. According to the site, it searches “HomeAway, VRBO, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and more.” This “more” notably includes Airbnb and Couchsurfing, so you can view properties as varied as spare bedrooms, large homes, and even campsites.

You can search for properties all over the world, and you can filter based on amenities, ratings, and property type. Tripping.com also offers an interactive map that lets you compare locations and prices for short-term rentals in a given city. This is a valuable feature to have if you know you want to stay in a particular neighborhood or near a particular attraction.

In general, if you know that hotels aren’t for you and want to compare lots of short-term rental options at once, Tripping.com is the site to use.

8. Couchsurfing

Out of all the Airbnb competitors we’ve looked at on this list, Couchsurfing might be the most distinctive. To start with, accommodations on Couchsurfing are free. You can pay a small fee of $60 to become a “Verified Member,” but this isn’t necessary to use the platform.

With free accommodation, however, come some tradeoffs. As the site’s name implies, the accommodations you can get through Couchsurfing are quite basic. You might get a bed, but you could also end up sleeping on a couch, air mattress, or cot.

On the other hand, you do get to connect very personally with a local as they invite you into their home. This isn’t appealing to everyone, but it could be perfect for a budget traveler who wants to get off the beaten path. It’s also a useful option for a backpacker or solo traveler who is heading to a different city each night on an extended trip.

Due to the nature of Couchsurfing, it isn’t the best option if you want to book long-term stays. It’s best for just a few nights at a time and not meant for stays of several weeks. Of course, you could always Couchsurf with several different people in the same city during a trip, but this won’t appeal to every type of traveler.

However, Couchsurfing also offers free meetups and community events. You can participate in these as long as you’re a member of Couchsurfing, and they can be an excellent tool for meeting people from all over the world when you’re in a new city (or even in your own hometown).

9. OneFineStay

Leaving the couches and air mattresses and heading to the four-poster beds and divans, we come to our final Airbnb competitor: OneFineStay. This is a site that focuses on only the most luxurious short-term rentals out there. OneFineStay visits and vets each property on their site, and they offer 24/7 concierge-level service to all guests.

This level of service comes with a price tag to match. It’s not uncommon to see properties on OneFineStay that cost more per night than the average person earns in a month. There are also properties in the low $200s, but they’re the exception.

As far as locations, OneFineStay offers properties in Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, Asia, and Oceania. The destinations are more limited than other travel sites to ensure that all properties meet the luxury standards that users of this service expect.

In particular, the site focuses on properties in the Caribbean for its “Getaway destinations,” while offering urban bookings in only the largest, most cosmopolitan cities, like New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and Rome. The site also offers luxury accommodations for adventure travelers, with properties in popular ski resort towns, like Aspen and Breckenridge.

If you’re looking to book a luxury vacation in either the city or the country, OneFineStay is the option for you. Airbnb also has a competing service called Airbnb Plus, which offers a higher level of vetting and amenities than your typical Airbnb property. However, the listings there still tend to be more modest in price and furnishings than those available on OneFineStay, which targets the wealthy and the ultra-wealthy.

Find the Best Vacation Rental Site for Your Needs

Airbnb isn’t for everyone, which is why alternatives exist. We hope this guide has helped you understand the many Airbnb competitors currently operating in the vacation rental market. Airbnb is a remarkable service, but you shouldn’t rule out other options when planning your next trip.

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