Thanks to online booking services, seeing the world works differently. No booking site has risen to power quite like Airbnb, which has connected more than 60 million travelers with 2 million listings worldwide.
However, Airbnb’s omnipresence has a dark side that includes discriminatory hosts, illegal listings and even damages to local economies. Additionally, due to its sheer size, there are some services Airbnb just can’t offer, like relationships with locals and staff inspections of properties.
For everything it lacks, however, there’s another service looking to fill that void and highlight the experiences that are more important to you. Whether you’ve got some beef with Airbnb or are just looking for a new experience, consider one of these services the next time you book a stay online.
Over the past year, Airbnb has made headlines several times for accounts of host discrimination. Enter Innclusive (formerly Noirebnb), a booking service aimed at marginalized groups and anyone who has felt discriminated by a rental host. So far, the site has rallied more than 100,000 properties in more than 130 countries. Innclusive is set to fully launch in October and is currently looking for property hosts.
HomeAway offers more than 1 million listings in more than 190 countries, focusing on benefits that distinguish a good vacation from a great one. Unlike Airbnb, HomeAway only showcases private listings, meaning you’ll only have to share space and amenities with the people you invited.
Connecting with a local is an experience that money can’t always buy, and with Couchsurfing you won’t have to spend a penny. Signing up for the service connects you to a global network of adventurers and experts offering places to crash, firsthand knowledge of cities and friendship to four million travelers each year. Users can even connect with fellow Couchsurfers on their own turf at meetups.
VRBO, an affiliate of HomeAway, has been connecting travelers with vacation homes around the world for 20 years. Like HomeAway, VRBO allows access to Community, a collection of resources for owners including webinars, forums and discussions among registered users.
TripAdvisor’s FlipKey service offers more than 300,000 rooms and residences in more than 11,000 cities and boasts the largest number of authentic vacation rental reviews. Like its parent company, FlipKey is all about trust—every owner on the site has been verified by FlipKey staff, meaning you’ll deal with top-notch people as well as solid lodging.
OneFineStay puts an emphasis on hospitality as well as the spaces themselves. Staff members visit each home before OneFineStay approves it, gaining intimate knowledge of the property. Staying connected while you’re away isn’t an issue either—each home comes equipped with wifi and an iPhone with free data.
Sarra Sedghi is Paste Food’s Assistant Editor. She can usually be found arguing about mayonnaise on Twitter.