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Your Guide to onefinestay: A Luxury Airbnb Alternative

Last updated: September 4, 2019
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The on-demand economy has seen people create businesses not only out of their cars, with companies like Uber, but with their homes as well, bringing in extra income by renting out homes on sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

One competitor that inhabits the luxury home rental space is onefinestay, a site that is focused on high-end homes and sets itself apart with much more comprehensive customer service. This higher level of service is not only for renters but owners as well.

In this article we’ll explore onefinestay and show you how to book using their site. We’ll also compare the site to Airbnb.

What Is onefinestay?

onefinestay is a website that offers direct-from-owner home rentals, much like Airbnb or VRBO. What’s different about onefinestay is that it only lists the finest homes in a select number of cities, and offers considerably more amenities both for renters and owners who use the site.

onefinestay began in 2009 when co-founder and former CEO Greg Marsh had the idea for an upscale rental site that let locals find the best places for visitors to stay. The company began with just six homes in London in 2010, but expanded rapidly, getting investment from Index Ventures and Intel Capital all the way through a Series D funding. In 2016, the company was acquired by hospitality company AccorHotels.

The company’s business model combines elements of sites like Airbnb, which allows direct renting from owners, with more traditional hotel arrangements and amenities. Staff members set up each home before it’s rented, making sure it’s clean and stocked with toiletries, basic food items, and other amenities.

While onefinestay has both city and countryside rentals, their “top destinations” are listed as:

  • London
  • Paris
  • New York City
  • Los Angeles
  • Turks & Caicos
  • San Francisco
  • Rome

Their largest offerings are in those cities, though they do have homes and apartments for rent outside city limits near most of the cities listed above.

How to Book With onefinestay

Booking with onefinestay is easy, and relatively similar to booking experiences with other home-rental sites. To start, you’ll first head to onefinestay.com. (You can also search on their iPhone app, but for the purposes of this article we’ll be using screenshots of the website.)

From there, you can start searching by entering location, dates you want to travel, and how many people will be going on the trip.

Screen Shot 2019 08 21 at 11.22.07 AM

On the next page, you’ll be able to look through results. The site gives you a lot of tools to review and find exactly what you’re looking for.

At the top, you may notice that there’s an option to look at a map. This tab will let you view the city and select townhouses or apartments based on neighborhood, if you so choose.

You’ll notice you are also able to filter your search results on the left. You can filter by price, amenities, equipment, and even whether or not children are welcome in the home. (There are plenty of property owners that prefer if children do not stay.)

Screen Shot 2019 08 21 at 11.28.21 AM

Once you find a property that looks enticing, you can click on it to get even more details. The next page will have a larger collection of photos of the property, a full list of features and amenities, as well as a section called “Home Truths.”

Home Truths is a nice feature that lets the owner issue any caveats about the home ahead of time. For example, on one listing in Paris, they explain that the house doesn’t have any air conditioning, and that the fireplace is purely decorative.

Lastly, on the right you’ll see the option to book, as well as the price per night and the final price for your stay.

Screen Shot 2019 08 21 at 4.59.04 PM

You also have the option to reach out to a onefinestay representative and ask any questions you may have about the listing.

onefinestay vs. Airbnb

When looking at home rental sites like onefinestay, it’s always helpful to look at what they offer compared to one of the biggest platforms in the market, Airbnb.

The biggest difference between onefinestay and Airbnb is not only in the exclusivity of the homes listed, but in the service provided by the site itself.

The first part is self explanatory. onefinestay requires owners to apply to join, and has a certain threshold of home quality that they will allow onto their site. There’s no set standard, it’s just up to their discretion. They also don’t allow the renting of single rooms, like Airbnb does, insisting instead on private homes.

Airbnb doesn’t have any real barrier of entry. If you have a room or apartment available to rent, and have the legal right to rent it out, they let you do so. There’s no real application process for owners, you can just post a listing and start accepting reservations.

The other big difference is with the services each provides. Airbnb is really built to be a platform to connect renters and owners. While Airbnb can provide some support and will step in if there’s an issue, Airbnb’s real goal is to just connect people to make a rental happen. They provide secure payment and a place to list a home or room for rent, and otherwise, they want to stay out of it. Owners are responsible for making sure the place is clean and habitable, making sure check-in happens smoothly, etc.

onefinestay offers a lot more to its renters and its owners. Before arrival, each home is prepared by staff with clean sheets, towels, and toiletries. All guests are welcomed by staff on arrival, and the support team is on call 24/7 for any issues that arise.

You’re paying more, but you’re getting nicer apartments, and a higher level of customer service. If you are short on towels, and you call Airbnb, they’re going to tell you to get in touch with the owner. If you call onefinestay, they’re going to get you towels.

Frequently Asked Questions

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We’ve covered onefinestay, how to book with the site, and how it compares to Airbnb. Let’s get to some frequently asked questions.

1. How do I reach onefinestay customer support?

This company sets itself apart with fantastic customer service. If you have questions about reservations, you should shoot an email to [email protected] For guest support: [email protected]

Plus, you can always call them at 1 855-553-4954 to get any questions answered.

2. How do I become an owner on onefinestay?

To list your home, you need to email [email protected] to start the application process. From there, they’ll ask you about your home and amenities, and request photos. They have the right to choose which homes go on their site, so you’ll be at their discretion.

3. What fees do they charge owners?

While onefinestay offers many more services and amenities, they pay for that with much, much higher fees charged to owners for listing with them.

The number of that fee varies. Their official policy states: “We will suggest an achievable license fee for the Property based on the Property’s location, condition, the time of year, the length of the booking and other relevant factors. We will confirm the method for charging this fee with you.”

But some news stories have suggested the fee charge for onefinestay can be as much as 50% of the rental. For some owners, it will be worth it to them to have the staff take care of management, guest relations, cleaning, etc. But compared to Airbnb, which charges between 3% and 5% to an owner, this is a huge markup.

Stay in Style With onefinestay

If you’re looking to do something for a special trip, and want to experience one of the world’s great cities in style, it might be worth checking out onefinestay. Providing the service level of a hotel while still letting you stay in a chic home, the site is a great, upscale alternative to a site like Airbnb.

While the prices are higher typically, they aren’t prohibitive, and you will know each home comes with 24/7 support in the area.

It’s not for everyone, or every trip, but onefinestay is a good option to think of the next time you’re planning a grand adventure.

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