12 Best Vacation Rental Websites for Your Next Relaxing Getaway
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You can kick back and relax in a spacious home when you use one of these vacation rentals websites.
Thinking about going on vacation? You’re not alone. According to Vacasa, more than half of all Americans are planning a trip this spring. And whether they’re heading to the beach or the mountains, the city or the country, travelers are looking for vacation homes they can spread out in for ultimate relaxation. Vrbo, one of the most popular vacation rentals websites, is seeing a nearly 50 percent increase in demand for rentals this March and April compared to last spring.
While the added space that comes with a rental like an Airbnb vs. a hotel is certainly appealing—you can have multiple bedrooms, outdoor spaces, and communal areas to enjoy with family and friends—it’s not the only reason rentals are on the rise. According to a Vacasa survey, travelers who are booking vacation rentals for their spring getaways appreciate the value for money and access to a full kitchen.
Another sign of just how popular these rentals are: the sheer quantity of vacation rentals websites that will help you find everything from a cute cabin to a gorgeous castle and every cottage in between. Don’t know where to start? We’ve rounded up the top vacation rentals websites to use whether you’re looking for the most popular Airbnbs, the best international options, unique properties, or affordable family vacation ideas.
RD.com, Getty Images, via airbnb.com
Best for extensive options
Airbnb is a commerce site where homeowners personally list a vacation rental and travelers can book it directly. What makes Airbnb unique is that you can choose to spend the night in anything from a bedroom in someone’s home to a tree house to a castle in France. (No, really—the company reports that it has nearly 3,000 Airbnb castles and 1,400 tree houses in its current listings.)
There are more than 5 million Airbnb listings worldwide, so there’s truly something for everyone, including charm-filled Airbnbs that cost less than $100, Airbnb Plus options that go beyond Superhost-hosted homes, and Airbnb Luxe options that feel like five-star hotels.
- The variety of sizes and prices makes it easy to find the best fit.
- Hosts are often on-site or nearby, giving you the chance to meet a local.
- Interacting with hosts isn’t for everyone.
- Inconsistent bedding and amenities from property to property
RD.com, Getty Images, via vrbo.com
Best for spacious getaways
Vacation Rental by Owner (aka Vrbo) is a platform for vacation home rentals. Vacationers deal directly with homeowners instead of going through a realtor or other middlemen. Unlike Airbnb, none of the listings on Vrbo are shared spaces, so you’ll never find someone else’s food in the fridge or clothes in the closet. Due to the exclusive use and privacy of the vacation homes available, this is a great option for family getaways—everyone can spread out instead of squishing into a hotel room. It’s also a perfect fit for groups who want to stay together in a shared space.
Since Vrbo properties are always single homes, prices are higher than for the single rooms you can find on Airbnb. As for the cost of Airbnb vs. Vrbo when it comes to renting an entire house, you may not notice much of a difference. Houses of comparable size in the same destination should have similar costs on each site, though they may skew lower on Vrbo, where fees tend to be less.
- Property sizes make this a great option for groups.
- Numerous vacation homes in popular destinations
- Fewer options than Airbnb
RD.com, Getty Images, via vacasa.com
Best for North and Central American options
North America’s largest vacation rental platform, Vacasa, operates as a property management company, overseeing owners’ properties. It manages 35,000 homes spanning 34 states plus vacation destinations like Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, and Canada. The homes run the gamut from privately owned vacation houses to vacation club condos. Vacasa-managed properties are synched to list on Airbnb, Booking.com, and Vrbo.
What you gain from booking a Vacasa property is consistency in management—there’s a pro crew to answer questions—and high-tech apps and digital check-in for easy transactions.
- Lots of North American properties
- The tech-savvy company has an app that offers property details and adds an ease to booking.
- Consistent aesthetic and amenities from home to home
- Not in every state
- Limited inventory
RD.com, Getty Images, via thirdhome.com
Best luxury properties
Third Home Rentals
Want to swap a stay in your luxurious second home for a vacation in someone else’s? That’s the concept behind Third Home. Depending on several factors, you’ll earn travel credits for your property, which you can use to stay at homes that range from an apartment in the middle of Amsterdam to a tree house in South Africa and a ski lodge in Lake Tahoe.
Yes, we know such an exclusive home-exchange club isn’t a fit for most people (us included). But this is where things get interesting: Certain homes are available to book as part of an exclusive rental program. With stunning Greek villas and grand Swiss chalets available to rent by the night, it’s one of the best vacation rentals websites for truly luxe and relaxing getaways.
- Unique luxury offerings, including French chateaus and Tuscan farmhouses
- Highly vetted properties
- Limited inventory
- Rentals are often pricey (but you get what you pay for)
RD.com, Getty Images, via sonder.com
Best for a modern apartment
An innovative addition to the apartment rental marketplace, Sonder uses a high-tech interface that makes it easy for guests to access everything from neighborhood guides and Wi-Fi to 24-hour customer service. The sleek, modern apartments are located in hip hoods in cities like Austin, Boston, Denver, and Los Angeles as well as cities in Europe, Canada, Mexico, and even Dubai.
Apartments are crisp, clean, and contemporary and also come stocked with bathroom amenities and fully outfitted kitchens for a mix of hotel-like detail and long-term rental vibes. Although you’ll only be checking in with a code and a keypad, a digital concierge on Sonder’s app can help with any issues.
- Modern and clean apartment options
- Everything you need—from soap to towels to coffee—is stocked on arrival.
- High-tech, touch-free check-in and check-out
- No hosts or human contacts
- Limited inventory
RD.com, Getty Images, via onefinestay.com
Best for hotel-like homes
Need an alternative to regular vacation rentals? Try OneFineStay, a group of luxe rental homes that lets guests deal with a management company instead of individual owners. You’ll get 24-7 guest support, hotel-like amenities, and professional housekeeping with heightened cleanliness protocols for a high-end hotel feel.
Plus, the company can take care of the little things, like stocking pre-arrival groceries, preparing meals, handling child care, and more. And homes are more than big enough to fit every member of the clan, from the kids to the grandparents.
- Concierge services make rentals feel like hotels.
- In-person meet and greet
- Limited inventory
- More international than U.S. options
RD.com, Getty Images, via plumguide.com
Best vetted vacation homes
Founded in the United Kingdom in 2016, Plum Guide is now present in more than 500 locations across 29 countries and in cities such as Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and Rome. The company prides itself on separating “the good from the great” in the vacation rental category with its proprietary Perfect Stay Test, which it calls the world’s most meticulous home test.
Plum Guide’s home inspectors follow a more than 150-point test to select its definitive collection of homes. As a result, the company offers a curated selection of the top 3 percent of rentals in a destination. Surprisingly, though, there are a number of affordable options despite the rigorous selection process.
- Highly vetted properties
- Homes available in every price bracket
- Concierge services available
- Vacation rentals in the United States are only in major cities and on the coasts
RD.com, Getty Images, via lovehomeswap.com
Best for a (nearly) free home swap
Love Home Swap
Want a relaxing vacation rental but don’t have the budget for your vacation dreams? A home swap might be for you. And if a basically free vacation sounds appealing, you’re not alone; Love Home Swap, a global home-swapping platform with homes in more than 110 countries, saw a nearly 300 percent increase in member sign-ups last year compared to 2019.
To participate, you have to apply to list your own home on the site, and then you have access to 18,000 beautiful and vetted homes around the world for a small monthly fee of $11. You can filter down the list of properties by destination, kid and pet friendliness, and more. Then connect with the owner to see if you’re a match (picture the movie The Holiday for inspiration). You can either do a Classic Swap or a Points Swap (the company’s virtual currency), the latter of which has a small transaction fee based on the number of nights you stay.
- Most cost-effective way to have a vacation home vacation
- Family-friendly option
- Involves strangers staying in your house
- Little consistency between properties
RD.com, Getty Images, via homes-and-villas.marriott.com
Best for earning hotel points
Homes & Villas By Marriott
If you’re having second thoughts about giving up the perks of a hotel stay, including the ability to accrue and use valuable loyalty reward points, Homes & Villas by Marriott may be a perfect fit. The hotel group has created a collection of over 50,000 premium and luxury home rentals located in more than 500 prime destinations throughout North America and around the globe.
The homes are managed by Marriott (one of the hotels with the best customer service), so they meet the company’s design, cleanliness, safety, and amenity standards. Bonus: It’s also the only vacation home rental program to participate in Marriott Bonvoy, which means members can both earn and redeem points for all stays.
- Earn and redeem points for stays
- Hotel standards for vacation homes
- Large variety of international locations
- Not a true hotel stay, so no consistent amenities
RD.com, Getty Images, via turnkeyvr.com
Best for homes in the United States
TurnKey Vacation Rentals
If you’re browsing for vacation rentals websites that specialize in the United States, look no further than TurnKey. The company focuses on U.S. luxury rentals, making it a good option for a weekend getaway or relaxing vacation close to home.
TurnKey acts as a management company for individually owned properties, so there’s a wide range of options available. It also provides top-level cleaning services, free Wi-Fi, seamless digital check-in, and 24-7 guest support for all of the homes.
- Lots of options across the United States
- Detailed cleaning and COVID-19 precautions
- No listings outside of the United States
RD.com, Getty Images, via evolve.con
Best for travelers with pets
This vacation rental company focuses on the best lake, mountain, and beach destinations across the continental United States, Hawaii, and Mexico.
Among the more than 14,000 rental properties Evolve manages, there are over 4,000 options that will be happy to host your lovable four-legged friends. So tell Fido he’s coming on vacation!
- Dog-friendly properties throughout the portfolio
- Large number of homes with pools and hot tubs
- Not as many options as some other home rental sites
RD.com, Getty Images, via welcomebeyond.com
Best for gorgeous design
If you dog-ear design magazines like it’s your job or have a dozen Pinterest boards dedicated to home decor, browse properties on Welcome Beyond. The company handpicks vacation rentals that meet its stringent standards for quality and design, and each is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
As far as vacation rentals websites go, this one has a wonderfully personal touch: Listings include the inspiration behind the property and aspects the owner finds so very special. Rentals range from apartments, homes, and villas to out-of-the-box stays in yurts, lodges, and even on private islands.
- Gorgeously designed properties
- Personal touch
- Whole-home rentals tend to be on the expensive side
- Few vacation rentals in the United States and only in on the coasts
How to Book
If you’re looking for spring break rentals, you may find a tight market, so book soon. Now is the time to search for a summer rental too. According to a survey by Vrbo, in the past year, “booking activity occurred on average two to three months earlier than usual for several major travel seasons, like summer and the holidays.” Of respondents surveyed, 60 percent said they planned to book future vacations earlier than they did in pre-pandemic times.
To get started, browse vacation rentals websites to find the one you’re most interested in. Then choose a location and the dates you want to travel. Note, however, that during peak seasons—like summer—sites may require a minimum stay of anywhere from two to seven nights.
Choose your dates
On most vacation rentals websites, a booking calendar should pop up, showing you availability. If you’re using Airbnb, you may have to get in touch with a host if you need more info. For sites run by property management companies, like Sonder and TurnKey, you’ll be able to book immediately, just as you would with a hotel.
Check for fees
Be sure to check for additional fees. Airbnb in particular has a number of additional costs, such as cleaning, that can drive up the price that’s initially displayed. (This is less of the case with more hotel-like options.)
Scan for cancellation policies
Keep an eye on cancellation policies; don’t assume that you can cancel for a full refund unless the listing explicitly states that. Management companies usually have more consistent policies than marketplace sites such as Airbnb or Vrbo.
Find out if it hosts pets
One of the biggest vacation rental etiquette mistakes you can make: Assuming your pet is invited. Always check to see whether a property is pet friendly before booking, and don’t bring your four-legged friend if pets aren’t allowed.
Check the major booking sites
Booking sites such as Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Expedia.com all feature a number of properties from Vrbo, Airbnb, and other rental companies. To find them, simply choose a home rental filter.
How to become a host
Tempted to not only rent a home but be a host as well? There are several things to consider before you get started. First, will you be listing your primary residence as a vacation rental, or do you have a dedicated vacation home you’d like to rent out?
If it’s the latter, decide how hands-on you’d like to be. If you’re busy and don’t want to worry about cleaning and vetting guests, a property management company like TurnKey or Plum might be your best bet.
Are you renting out your primary residence, or do you have a second home but want to meet the guests who are staying there (and avoid paying management company fees)? A user-generated marketplace site like Airbnb and Vrbo is where you’ll want to turn. But be sure to keep these things in mind when renting your home on Airbnb.
Just as you would when listing your house for sale, you’ll want to stage your home and take some great photos to add to your listing. Don’t forget to compile a list of benefits to entice guests. Maybe your place is in a great location, has a chef’s kitchen or kids’ play area, or is totally pet friendly.
Best rentals in the United States
Vacation homes are usually one of a kind. So if someone has already rented the property you love on the dates you’re traveling—or if the owners decide to use the home for themselves and take it out of the rental pool—it won’t appear as on option when you search your vacation date range.
That said, we love to browse for the best of the best when it comes to relaxing vacation rentals. We can’t get enough of these serene lake house rentals, and these beach house rentals will leave you dreaming of crashing waves and sand between your toes. Give small-space living a go with these tiny house rentals, or book one of these Airbnbs for the best fall foliage.