Luxurious Alternatives to Five-Star Hotels

For luxury-minded travelers who crave authenticity without sacrificing service, a new twist on the shared economy combines the localized approach of AirBnB with the red-carpet reliability of a five-star hotel. Whether you seek an urban escape or beachfront getaway, these up-and-coming travel companies let you have it all, including peace of mind:


Preferring the term “unhotel” to vacation rental, OneFineStay offers enviable residences in New York, London, Paris and Los Angeles with a hospitality-minded approach that begins the moment you arrive. Greeted in most cases by a concierge at the door, you'll enjoy a welcome basket filled with snacks while completing the check-in process right in the comfort of your living room. OneFineStay also stocks properties with spa-quality toiletries, fluffy towels and high-thread-count linens. Guests staying seven nights or longer also receive maid service -- not exactly the stuff of VRBO.

Beyond the white-glove treatment, OneFineStay works hard to preserve the feeling of a homestay, making the “lived-in” quality a key part of each home's story. Hosts offer local tips and advice loaded on an iPhone (another perk of the stay) for recommendations, extra towels and special requests. A OneFineStay concierge is always at the other end of the line. 

Luxury Retreats

Founded in 1999 by then 17-year-old Joe Poulin, Luxury Retreats is a veteran curator of vacation homes for travelers who want “nothing left to chance.” Offering beachfront and mountain properties from St. Lucia to the Swiss Alps, the steadily growing company has become a trusted resource for vacationers seeking personalized accommodations with hotel-like amenities. Obsessed with service, Luxury Retreats sends a team of vacation specialists to personally inspect each home in the inventory, using a 100-point quality system to rate everything from the number of en-suite baths to the home’s beachfront or ski slope proximity.

The company also works only with carefully selected residence managers, adding the benefit of on-site support to their own centralized concierge team. The hands-on approach makes the Luxury Retreats experience more akin to that of a hotel than a vacation rental, but co-founder Jazz Poulin, brother of Joe, is quick to point out the advantages of staying in a home. “There’s a lot more value and privacy in renting a luxury retreat,” he said. “Guest can swim in their own pool and have their private chef prepare anything they want.”

Kid & Coe

A fast-growing newcomer to the vacation rental scene, Kid & Coe is a family-centric travel company wth properties on six continents. With destinations that inspire adventure -- from Hong Kong to the Galapagos Islands -- Kid & Coe makes exploring new places easier for jetsetters with kids. Inspired by the needs of founder Zoie Kingsbery Coe as she traveled with her musician husband and two children, Kid & Coe connects homeowners, often parents themselves, directly with like-minded families, creating a community of travelers seeking more space, privacy and local insight than hotels can offer.

From its launch, Kid & Coe has taken strides to personalize each stay, offering itineraries and local neighborhood guides directly from the parents who know their homes and areas best. Most properties offer amenities like high chairs and cribs. And although guests largely interact with homeowners themselves, the Kid & Coe team is always a phone call away, ensuring that all reservations also come with peace of mind. 

Tracie Silberberg

Freelance writer and founder of Mindful Escapes, a community for sustainably-minded travelers. I write about emerging destinations, eco-tourism, real estate, and design. ...(Read More)

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