6 Awesome Vacation Rental Platforms That Aren't Airbnb

If endless scrolling through vacation-rental sites has gotten you nowhere, these design-minded platforms might be the solve.

<p>Courtesy of Boutique</p> A set of six one-bedrooms in Bacalar, Mexico.

Courtesy of Boutique

A set of six one-bedrooms in Bacalar, Mexico.

A decade ago, renting a place to stay felt like the ultimate way to get to know a destination. It was the era of “live like a local,” until commercial-property investors flooded sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Soon, it was tough to find those characterful stays in a sea of dime-a-dozen homes. Now a new generation of booking platforms is hoping to solve the conundrum of curation.

“Hosts go with us because they want to share their places with guests who care as much about design as they do,” says Marc Blazer, CEO and cofounder of Boutique, one of several sites with stylish listings around the world. “It’s entirely different from what you find on most platforms.” Here, six of the best sites to search now.

The High-design Experts

Boutique draws on the experience and knowledge of architects, designers, photographers, and chefs to assemble its portfolio. It includes properties like a winemaker’s estate in Tuscany, a Midcentury Modern villa in Hawaii, A-frames in Mexico, and homes designed by noteworthy architects such as Richard Neutra and John Pawson.

<p>ELSA YOUNG/COURTESY OF ART HOUSE COLLECTION</p> A two-bedroom in South Africa’s Karoo.


A two-bedroom in South Africa’s Karoo.

Southern Africa Insiders

Cape Town–based entrepreneur and art-world insider Elana Brundyn drew on her network to launch the aptly named Art House Collection, which has the keys to renovated Cape Dutch farms and art packed seaside villas in South Africa and beyond. “Being purposefully small allows us to attend to every stay in a very hands-on way,” Brundyn says.

<p>Einar Aslaksen/Courtesy of A-One</p> A waterfront two-bedroom in Oslo.

Einar Aslaksen/Courtesy of A-One

A waterfront two-bedroom in Oslo.

Scandinavian Specialists

Norwegian newcomer A-One has a super-specific lens: luxury apartments in Oslo’s most sought-after neighborhoods, including waterfront Bjørvika and leafy Frogner. One notable two-bedroom, located a stone’s throw from the Oslo Opera House, features stairs down to the fjord to facilitate those early morning dips.

<p>Voytek Ketz/Courtesy of DOMstay</p> A three-bedroom in London.

Voytek Ketz/Courtesy of DOMstay

A three-bedroom in London.

Sleek Stay Pros

Dreamed up by Polish-British interior architect Marta Nowicka, DOMstay has more than 30 gorgeous apartments, cottages, and villas in the U.K. and on the Continent, including many designed by Nowicka herself. (Dom means “home” in Polish.) One quintessential example: a renovated Edwardian warehouse in London’s Clerkenwell neighborhood that’s now a sparkling three-bedroom.

<p>Texture on Texture/Courtesy of Stayfolio</p> A one-bedroom house in Seoul.

Texture on Texture/Courtesy of Stayfolio

A one-bedroom house in Seoul.

The Preservationists

South Korean architecture studio Z_Lab created Stayfolio, which lists dozens of high-design stays in locations such as Busan, JeJu, and Seoul. “We approach hospitality with a focus on design and spatial experiences,” says founder Sang Muk Lee, who adds that many of the rentals are set in renovated hanoks, as traditional Korean houses are known

<p>Courtesy of Kip Hideaways</p> A one-bedroom near Hastings, England.

Courtesy of Kip Hideaways

A one-bedroom near Hastings, England.

The Country Getaway Go-to

With a focus on Ireland and the U.K., Kip specializes in off-grid cabins, renovated barns, and cozy cottages. The portfolio has contemporary stays like a glass-walled hideaway in Hastings, England, as well as fun finds such as the upcycled minibus that’s now a chic one-bedroom in England’s Lake District.

A version of this story first appeared in the May 2024 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Finding the Right Address."

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