Editor's Picks

Cozy alternatives to hotel stays during the holidays and year round


Holiday season is prime time for traveling. Maybe it’s to visit family, plan a romantic Christmas getaway, or to escape the cold weather and spend a cozy vacation on a sunny beach far from any threat of snow. Whatever your reason might be, you’re going to have to figure where you’re lodging! There are a number of hotels you might try, but perhaps you’re looking for something a little more adventurous – something that will make this season a holiday to remember.

If you’re looking to escape the confines of a hotel, book a relaxing trip with confidence, and find a unique locale that really captures the essence of what you’re craving in a trip, then we’ll start you off on the right foot with these three travel sites.

Best websites for lodging other than hotels

1. Give Airbnb a chance!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of these guys. What you may not know is just how many homes are available via Airbnb by now; there are over 4 million Airbnb listings worldwide, and on any given night around 2 million people are staying in one that they’ve they’ve rented.


Is it safe? Short answer: Yes. If you’re new (and feeling dubious), check out these seven tips for first-time renters or look up safety policies on their FAQ. The bottom line is that there are nearly 5 million listings in 191 countries to choose from, which is more than the top five hotel chains combined.

Their success is made possible by a thorough system of account protection, secure payments, watch list and background checks for any hosts, and risk scoring every reservation, making sure you know what you’re getting into. You can even communicate with your Airbnb hosts without having to send your private email address to prevent scams and avoid maintaining contact with a host you later choose not to follow through with.

Airbnb offers more choice of lodging than your typical hotel or apartment complex. See a location from a new angle!

As for the kinds of places Airbnb offers, there are three basic listings: A private room, a shared room, or an entire place. That said, Airbnb’s versatility is through the roof, ranging from tiny rooms where you’ll spend a night or two to entire islands if you’ve got the money to burn. Check here for listing information and here for more detailed search options and filters.

2. VRBO promises to help you build the best vacation ever

Vacation rentals by owner (VRBO) launched in 1995, about 15 years before Airbnb, so it’s had a longer time to work out any kinks that might leave you skeptical about Airbnb. Another advantage that VRBO has is that since it was originally used as a home-sharing market that prioritized ‘second home’ or ‘vacation home’ type locales, that’s largely what you’ll be finding there.

Sure you’ll likely be able to find the same spots on Airbnb, but VRBO will probably be more scenic and closer to the action, since it was designed with tourism in mind. For a more thorough comparison between VRBO and Airbnb, check this video:


Since VRBO caters more towards vacation stays, their website is very up-front and user-friendly with showcasing popular destination spots like New York, Venice, Hawaii, or Paris. Again, VRBO offers apartments, houses, boats, cottages, chateaus, cabins – whatever you’re looking for. Just click more filters on the top of the page and you’ll be able to distinguish all kinds of facets, including price, nearby activities, location, and number of bedrooms.

VRBO lets you adjust filters 'till your heart's content

3. Booking.com gives more options

Booking.com offers a variety of getaway options just like our previous two options, but it additionally offers hotels as well. If you’re not opposed to hotels being listed in your options, but still like the chance of getting an Italian villa or a jaunty gîte in France, then booking.com will cast a larger net. The website is growing in popularity (particularly for destinations in Europe), but even something as simple as Ocean City has over 880 vacation rentals!

Booking.com has hotels and practically every other kind of lodging under the sun

Booking.com has more options available to its users, which is why its website is so useful. There’s a number of articles to help you narrow your search that are available (and free to browse!) right on their home page. There’s a food lover’s guide to southern France, top 5 hiking spots in Germany, and even a list of pet-friendly adventure locations. If you want low prices and unique lodging options but aren’t sure specifically where you want to go, we recommend starting with this site, then running the location through either VRBO or Airbnb afterward, to crosscheck your options and compare prices.

We hope this guide has gotten you excited to travel. Let us know which site you find to be the most useful, and if there’s any that we missed!

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