Is Airbnb done? Surely the platform is past its peak. While exceptions remain, what was once a space for people interested in hospitality and earning extra income has become pure business, with much of the industry dominated by people and companies with multiple listings. Though I’m still a user of the platform, it seems lately that hosts have been both demanding more  from their guests and charging more — perhaps still riding the pandemic popularity wave — while offering less (a queen or king bed needs four pillows, not two, but I digress).  

The fridge at an Airbnb upon check-in. The listing price included a $65 cleaning fee. 

For instance, I recently visited a friend who was renting a room in a two-bedroom apartment — not an entire apartment — for the month for $2,500. When the other room wasn’t booked through Airbnb, the host taught breathwork classes (because Brooklyn). But my real issue was that the apartment was filthy. The doors were covered in fingerprints, the freezer carpeted by coffee grounds and the fridge full of expired condiments (somehow the apartment had no salt). This isn’t simply an outlet for my complaints but rather a question — have we lowered our standards while continuing to pay a premium? And again, note that there are still several dedicated hosts who care about quality. There are also other short-term rental options you can choose from. Here are a few: 

VRBOThe name stands for ‘vacation rental by owner.’ Did you know VRBO got its start more than a decade before Airbnb? The platform focuses on entire-home rentals (so, no listening in on breathwork classes). VRBO is also known to have better customer service, and we’ve all heard about the Airbnb service — or lackof — horror stories. 

Hip Camp offers a variety of outdoor-centric experiences. Photo: Scott Goodwill on Unsplash

HipcampThis is a platform that features unique — and sometimes quirky — outdoor stays including tent camping, RV parks, cabins, treehouses, and glamping. Going on a road trip? Hipcamp is a great place to find everything from privately run campgrounds — which run as low as about $20 a night, to high-end glamping. 

Couchsurfing: No money is exchanged on Couchsurfing (though the platform did start charging a small subscription fee during the pandemic). A favorite of backpackers and budget travelers, Couchsurfing allows you to connect with locals who have extra space — it might be an entire room, or like its namesake, simply a couch. There are also options to meet up with locals who aren’t able to host, and most cities have strong Couchsurfing communities — it’s a great way to promote cultural exchanges.

Misterb&b: This site is designed to create a safe space for LQBTQ+ travelers and hosts, featuring more than 1 million LGBTQ+ owned rooms, apartments, or LGBTQ+ friendly hotels in 200 countries. 

The Plum Guide only features luxury properties. Photo: Florian Schmidinger on Unsplash

Plum GuidePlum Guide only lists the crème de la crème of rental properties — quality over quantity. Or as they put it, like a Michelin Star for vacation homes. All properties listed on the platform have been meticulously vetted, with experts checking everything from shower pressure to Wi-Fi speed. 

Where do you stand on Airbnb? Love it? Hate it? Find it a necessary evil? Is there a different platform you prefer? We want to hear your thoughts. Sound off to

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