Rahul is an app enthusiast who loves scouring the web for alternatives to different apps. Monopoly mustn't prevail!
What Apps and Websites Are Like Airbnb?
If you are a regular traveler or even someone who takes trips once or twice a year, you have probably used or at least heard of Airbnb by now. For the uninitiated, Airbnb is a famous travel accommodation website and app used all over the world. Be it budget bookings for one or something swanky for a group, you can find everything among their almost infinite listings. Gone are the days of booking cookie-cutter hotel rooms in bland surroundings. Airbnb offers a fun, alternative way to spice up your vacation.
Some of these listings have the homeowners staying on the property, so you can stay with the hosts and experience the local culture as well. In case you want a private room, there are plenty of options there, too. Versatility is one of the best aspects of this app, making it a leader when it comes to vacation rentals.
However, it is becoming quite mainstream, so booking in advance is fast becoming a necessity and a hassle, not to mention the skyrocketing rates. So, if you're on the lookout for alternatives to Airbnb, I've got you covered. Take a look at some similar websites and apps to make your next getaway memorable.
Apps and Sites Like Airbnb
- OYO Rooms
Vrbo is short for 'Vacation Rentals By Owners'. It is not as famous as Airbnb but has been around for a longer time. The mode of operation of this app is simple—you rent out vacation properties listed by owners in the area.
While Airbnb has all kinds of options when it comes to properties from service apartments, rentals, as well as hosted experiences, Vrbo offers only full rooms or properties. Hence, it is best advised to book your place through this app if you're in groups of four or more.
Coming to the interface, once again Airbnb takes the cake. But to Vrbo's credit, you would be surprised by the quality of its listing. If you're a homeowner, you can also register on the app with a nominal booking fee. It's a win-win for everyone involved.
It's a well-established fact that Booking.com is the king of the online hotel booking business. The site is one of the best places to get awesome deals on hotel rooms all across the globe. If you're on the lookout for a rental, Booking.com has got your back in this department as well. Although not its main function, you can book apartments and vacation homes for a fair price from the website. With the decline of hotel culture, it seems like this site is trying to keep up with the times.
Once again, if you're someone who owns a property and are looking to rent out, you can sign up on the website for free. However, the site will charge for every booking you make. If you're looking for an alternative to Airbnb, Booking.com should be a good fit.
HomeAway is another famous vacation rental giant that is fast catching up to Airbnb. Vrbo, the portal I talked about earlier is, in fact, a subsidiary of this company. As a result, you will find some similar places on both websites. However, being the parent company, HomeAway has a lot more options and listings.
While Vrbo only lists out vacation homes for mainly small groups, HomeAway also provides listings of smaller apartments and cottages, ideal for solo travelers or couples. In case you're not finding what you're looking for on Vrbo, chances are you would find it here.
Property owners can register at HomeAway with either a fixed annual fee or sign up for free and pay interest for every booking. It may not be a leader of travel accommodation, but it is a solid substitute for Airbnb nonetheless.
You may or may not have heard of Flipkey, but you would have certainly heard of TripAdvisor, who owns this company. Flipkey provides property listings of all kinds, pretty much like Airbnb. The number of properties and cities covered, however, are comparatively less, which is true for pretty much all Airbnb alternatives. Another major difference is that Flipkey doesn't provide dormitories. You will not find communes or hostels on this site, so it is not very budget-friendly.
However, Flipkey does have a pretty neat search filter. If you're on the lookout for something specific like a property with an ocean or a mountain view, they have got you covered. In case you have your four-legged furry friend accompanying you on your travels, you can specifically look for pet-friendly accommodations as well.
For property owners, registering on Flipkey has a distinct advantage. Once registered, your property will show up on the TripAdvisor search engine, ensuring that your place gets all the exposure it needs.
Homestay is one of the better travel accommodation services out there. Unlike Airbnb, which lists out hosted as well as private properties, Homestay exclusively shows places inhabited by the owners. Staying at a place listed on this site is not only a great experience overall, but is also culturally enlightening.
You can stay at home with a local, who knows everything about their city. Most of the time, the properties listed are gorgeous and the experience, enriching. Also, did I mention the fact that breakfast is complementary?
Of course, it does have some drawbacks; the major one being the high demand and low supply. Let's face it; not many homeowners opt for giving out their place for rent, which severely limits the number of houses in a city. Compared to Airbnb, the listings are far less, meaning you need to be booking your stay well in advance.
That being said, Homestay is still a brilliant and authentic way to experience a new place and its culture. Homeowners can rejoice, too, as it is completely free to sign up on the app.
Imagine Airbnb, but with a high-priced model and super swanky properties to match it, and you get OneFineStay. It is currently operational in only a few cities across the globe, but it is still a premier choice for the affluent. Now, these aren't five-star hotels that charge a bomb for a room or a suite. All the properties on OneFineStay are actual private properties, but there are no hosts. So you get luxurious and extravagant properties around major cities in the world all to yourself. If money isn't a problem for you, and you don't mind splurging a bit for the right place, OneFineStay is for you.
Homeowners too can register for their properties to be rented out. However, the company has very high standards for what qualifies as a place worthy of its site. Also, the booking fee is quite steep. With the payoff so high, however, it doesn't come as a surprise. Those looking for an Airbnb alternative will love what OneFineStay offers.
More professional and streamlined than other vacation rentals, VillasDirect is a great place to find properties specific to one's needs. The best part is, they are not a part of some larger conglomerate, so the listings are often unique. If you want a lot of interesting options while booking a place, VillasDirect will fit the bill.
However, there is a difference in the way the app works. Properties are rented out by management companies instead of individual owners. This ensures better quality and services. Also, there is no booking fee when you rent out a place on VillasDirect, which is a major win for any traveler.
Homeowners can still register their properties here, only not directly. They are usually paired up with a middleman group, who take things forward. Of course, they have to pay a certain commission for every successful booking.
Outdoorsy has adopted an intriguing business model in comparison to sites like Airbnb. Instead of renting out rooms and properties, the website lists out RVs and caravans!
It goes without saying that you can travel as well as stay for literally the same price, which is a major win for budget travelers. They also tend to be pretty spacious, which is an added bonus. There are no middlemen or hidden fee on Outdoorsy as all the properties listed on the app belong to actual owners, who rent it out when they are not using it. Unique, exciting, and completely private, Outdoorsy is a wanderer's dream come true.
If you own a caravan and are looking to rent it out, you can register on the website for free. There are no strings attached and the money you receive per booking is entirely yours. It sounds appealing, doesn't it?
Want to try something radical and profitable at the same time? Then try out Couchsurfing. It's a brilliant way to travel and stay, especially if you're on your own. With Couchsurfing, you can stay in the home of a host for free. Yes, you read that right, absolutely free!
However, the procedure to get this free pass is not so easy. The app is also a kind of social network—a way for travelers to connect and make friends all around the globe. If you're looking to stay someplace, you must fill out your profile completely, including basic details as well as interesting aspects about yourself. The more creative you are, the better. Then, if you find a place in the city that you really like, you have to place a request to the owner and strike a correspondence. Finally, if you two click, the place is yours, and you also earned yourself a new friend.
Of course, Couchsurfing works on a quid pro quo basis, so if you find a great place with a lovely host, be sure to keep a spare room ready at your home, too. A prime example of an alternative lifestyle and traveling on a shoestring budget, Couchsurfing is a must-have on every globe trotter's phone.
10. OYO Rooms
When one thinks of OYO Rooms, hotels usually come to mind. But this Indian origin hospitality chain has a jaw-dropping variety of options, including affordable hotel rooms, service apartments, private homes, vacation rentals, and a lot more. It is the third-largest vacation rental provider in the world. The app, which is user-friendly and easy to access, lists out affordable properties around the area—ideal for solo travelers, couples, or small families. Other than the affordable pricing, they also usually provide some form of complementary service, further wooing their customers.
With millions of properties listed all across the planet, there is no dearth of options available. From small cities to the bustle of the metropolis, OYO Rooms are everywhere. So, if you are looking for an affordable, reliable place to stay, look no further.
While it is safe to say that Airbnb will remain the undisputed king for some time, it would be prudent to keep an eye out for the aforementioned apps, for in the fast and ever-changing world of online services, nothing is set in stone.
So, what did you think of the list? Do you have any other sites and apps like Airbnb mind that deserve to be up here? Let me know in the comments section.
© 2020 Rahul Parashar
Liza from USA on August 14, 2020:
Great list! I have used a few of the apps/websites you've mentioned on the list in the past. However, there are a few I have never used or heard. I think it has to do with the pandemic. This year my husband and I have missed a trip that we have booked, so I don't pay attention to any new travel apps or websites. However, we are still planning for a future vacation after the pandemic is over. Thank you for the suggestions and tips!