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Editors’ Picks: 15 Favorite Resources for Vacation Rentals (Beyond Airbnb)

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Editors’ Picks: 15 Favorite Resources for Vacation Rentals (Beyond Airbnb)

July 28, 2023

Once summer comes along, it seems as though everyone you know is running off to a fantastic rental that they lucked upon via a friend of a friend. You want in. But with all the online clutter, it’s hard to zero in on that rustic Cape Cod beach shack or chic Parisian pied-à-terre of your dreams.

Here at Remodelista we’ve done our share of vacation renting, from shoestring to more luxe. We look for places with local character that are thoughtfully pulled together inside and out. It’s a combination that’s elusive but not impossible to come by, if you know where to look (and if you’re careful to scrutinize the photos and details before signing on). Here are the rental sites that we turn to most often.

1. The Thinking Traveler

writes francesca, &#8\2\20;i like the thinking traveler; it&#8\2\17;s t 17
Above: Writes Francesca, “I like The Thinking Traveler; it’s the best for coastal holidays: Greece, Italian Islands and Puglia.” Shown is the view from the breakfast table at Brezza di Mare in Cefalú, Sicily.

2. Urlaubsarchitektur

sarah&#8\2\17;s favorite source for northern european finds is urlaubs 18
Above: Sarah’s favorite source for Northern European finds is Urlaubsarchitektur (Holiday Architecture). “This German company does a great job sourcing what they describe as ‘architecturally outstanding houses,'” she says. The business was founded by German architect Jan Hamer, who decided he wanted his vacation rentals to be as well designed as his own home. Urlaubsarchitektur lists 297 properties, most tending toward the modern. Shown here: the Art Nouveau Casa 1923 in Portugal, available for rent.

3. Unique Home Stays

julie likes unique home stays, a uk rental site that caters to travelers with s 19
Above: Julie likes Unique Home Stays, a UK rental site that caters to travelers with specific interests, such as surfing retreats, eco rentals, and dog- and kid-friendly getaways. Photograph of Suki, a vacation rental in Cornwall with space for indoor-outdoor living.

4. Landfolk

annie&#8\2\17;s platonic ideal for a holiday house site is landfolk, which  20
Above: Annie’s platonic ideal for a holiday house site is Landfolk, which lists summer houses in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Germany and groups options into helpful collections that range from the practical (“Last-Minute”, “Dog Friendly”) to the hyper specific (“Fantastic Kitchens”, “Architecturally Designed”, “In the Dunes”, “Summer Houses with a Wilderness Bath”). She’s eager to try it out—particularly the “Summerhouses from the ’70s” category—for her honeymoon. Photo of a wood-paneled summerhouse in Løgstør, Denmark.

5. Haven In

another option is haven in (formerly haven in paris), which lists luxury villas 21
Above: Another option is Haven In (formerly Haven in Paris), which lists luxury villas and apartments and has expanded its reach to include London, Provence, and Tuscany. Photograph of the Eiffel Tower Loft in the 15th arrondissement.

6. Boutique Homes

francesca also recommends boutique homes, with offerings like the andrew trotte 22
Above: Francesca also recommends Boutique Homes, with offerings like the Andrew Trotter-designed Casa Soleto in Puglia, shown above.

7. Welcome Beyond

the german based welcome beyond offers holiday rentals worldwide—from ur 23
Above: The German-based Welcome Beyond offers holiday rentals worldwide—from Uruguay to Kenya to Australia—that are “singular, memorable and definitely worth writing home about”, according to the site. Shown here is P’tit Habibi, a holiday let in Marrakech, Morocco.

8. Landmark Trust

while working as an editor at travel + leisure, margot discovered the astonishi 24
Above: While working as an editor at Travel + Leisure, Margot discovered the astonishing collection of historic rentals offered by the UK’s Landmark Trust. “The Landmark Trust leases restored properties not just in Great Britain but in Italy and France. And there’s a similar, smaller organization, the Landmark Trust USA, that rents Rudyard Kipling’s family house in Vermont,” she says. Also worth looking into: the UK’s National Trust, “an organization offering holiday cottages in restored old buildings throughout the UK with names like Woolley Lodge. Hitch: the exteriors tend to look more charming than the interiors.” Photograph of the Music Room in Lancaster, an 18th century garden pavilion from the Landmark Trust.

9. Crabtree & Crabtree

For rental reccs, Margot goes to her friend Laura Jones, who lives York, England with her British husband (see her kitchen here) and “rents a roomy, well-situated house, every summer, for their far-flung family to gather,” according to Margot. Laura turned her on to Crabtree & Crabtree, good for holiday lets in the north of England. (“They have some lovely places,” Laura reports. “One of them, Milne Graden, is a collection of cottages on a riverside estate which is very present on Instagram.”)

10. Kip Hideaways

writes nell: &#8\2\20;for travel sites, i look to kip hideaways, who collec 25
Above: Writes Nell: “For travel sites, I look to Kip Hideaways, who collect ‘small places with soul’ across the UK.” Shown here: the charming White Cottage in Camber Sands, garden included.

11. One Fine Stay

Our group is of divided opinion about One Fine Stay (some of us have had good experiences, others not so great). That said, the site offers a wide range of luxury vacation stays in the main cities of New York, Colorado, California, Wyoming, and Hawaii, plus globally in France, Italy, Thailand, Spain, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

12. Kid & Coe

for those traveling as a family, janet recommends kid & coe, a vacatio 26
Above: For those traveling as a family, Janet recommends Kid & Coe, a vacation site that “focuses on family-friendly rentals–those that also translate into liveable. And their options aren’t limited to travelers with children,” she says. This one, the Olive Tree Residence in Andros, Greece, is on the site’s “under $500 a night” list.

13. Luci Stays

boutique agency luci stays offers four large villas across italy as well as thr 27
Above: Boutique agency Luci Stays offers four large villas across Italy as well as three in Mexico. Photograph of the Casita Mimas rental in Sayulita, Mexico.

14. Destination BCN

 destination bcn (dbcn) is a collection of barcelona apartments owned, des 28
Above: Destination BCN (DBCN) is a collection of Barcelona apartments owned, designed, and rented out by Miklos Beyer and Anme Nijstad, a design-minded couple. Margot, who rented the company’s Figi apartment (pictured), says, “In addition to being great looking—simple, modern, and impeccably clean—their places are detailed with art books, movies, Barcelona’s underground cultural magazines, and annotated lists of neighborhood places worth knowing about. And did I mention that they have great little kitchens, plus washing machines and dryers?”

15. Living Architecture

christine is a fan of living architecture, a company that describes itself as & 29
Above: Christine is a fan of Living Architecture, a company that describes itself as “a social enterprise dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of world-class modern architecture” (it was founded by Alain de Botton). Photograph of the Dune House in Suffolk designed and built by JVA + Mole Architects.

N.B.: This post is a favorite from our archives; it originally ran on July 7, 2014, and we’re republishing it here with our new additions and updates for 2023.

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Frequently asked questions

What are some vacation rental house websites recommended by Remodelista editors?

Remodelista editors recommend the following vacation rental house websites: Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, Kid & Coe, One Fine Stay, Boutique Homes, Plum Guide, Oliver's Travels, The Plum Guide, Landmark Trust, and Domus Stay.

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is a popular vacation rental platform that allows individuals to rent out their homes, apartments, or rooms to travelers. It offers a wide range of accommodation options in various locations around the world.

What is VRBO?

VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) is another vacation rental website that connects travelers with property owners. It offers a diverse selection of vacation homes, cabins, condos, and more.

What is HomeAway?

HomeAway is a vacation rental platform that is now part of the VRBO network. It offers a large inventory of rental properties for travelers to choose from.

What is Kid & Coe?

Kid & Coe is a vacation rental website specifically designed for families. It offers family-friendly homes and accommodations with amenities catered towards children.

What is One Fine Stay?

One Fine Stay is a luxury vacation rental website that offers high-end, curated homes and apartments in various cities around the world. It focuses on providing a premium experience to its guests.

What is Boutique Homes?

Boutique Homes is a vacation rental platform that features unique and design-focused properties. It showcases a collection of aesthetically appealing and architecturally interesting homes.

What is Plum Guide?

Plum Guide is a vacation rental website that offers a selection of meticulously tested and reviewed homes. It strives to provide a curated and high-quality experience for travelers.

What is Oliver's Travels?

Oliver's Travels is a vacation rental website specializing in luxury villas, chateaux, and large holiday homes. It offers unique and extravagant properties for travelers seeking a memorable experience.

What is The Plum Guide?

The Plum Guide is a vacation rental platform that features homes personally vetted by a team of hospitality experts. It ensures the quality and comfort of its accommodations.

What is Landmark Trust?

Landmark Trust is a vacation rental organization that focuses on preserving historic and unique buildings. It offers stays in castles, cottages, and other significant landmarks.

What is Domus Stay?

Domus Stay is a vacation rental website that features a collection of hand-picked properties in different destinations. It offers a range of accommodation types to suit various travel preferences.

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