Airbnb started 11 years ago, when founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia inflated three air mattresses in their San Francisco apartment and made them available to rent for visitors. The company has come a long way since, with a series of innovations. In February 2018, it introduced Airbnb Plus, a tier above “everyday Airbnbs,” which guarantees rental properties have been inspected for design, cleanliness, and host responsiveness. Now, it’s debuted another tier that sits even above Airbnb Plus. Its name? Airbnb Luxe.
What is Airbnb Luxe?
Airbnb Luxe is the result of the company’s acquisition of Luxury Retreats, a mansion, villa, and penthouse rental company, which it purchased two years ago. Airbnb Luxe now offers 2,000 homes, all of which have passed evaluation standards for more than 300 criteria, such as chef-grade appliances, “rare and unique finishes,” and other notable amenities. For instance, Villa Samira in Phuket, Thailand, overlooks the Bay of Bengal and comes with a personal chef, while Castello di Vicarello in Tuscany offers a “medieval farm-to-table experience.” Nukutepipi, curated by the founder of Cirque du Soleil, is a private island in French Polynesia with 21 bedrooms, 25 baths, and its own (self-declared) time zone.
Plus, each Airbnb Luxe booking comes with a “trip designer” who is available around the clock to coordinate bookings and arrivals, arrange local activities, and create bespoke experiences—basically, to satisfy your every vacation need.
Airbnb’s move into the luxury market makes sense. The company reports that in 2018, Airbnb bookings for listings costing at least $1,000 per night jumped more than 60 percent. But it will face some competition, too: As of last week, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts now offers private stays in more than 750 homes around the world under its Four Seasons Private Retreats collection. Even Marriott is getting in on the home-rental game, with its recent Homes & Villas by Marriott International expansion.
To book Airbnb Luxe, head to the site’s dedicated page and search as you would any standard Airbnb rental: Users can filter properties by destination (Cape Town, Costa Rica, Los Angeles) or scroll some of the site’s featured homes.
What’s catching our eye? The Chateau d’Estoublon in Fontvieille, France, is an 18th-century estate with 10 bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Across its 500 acres, there’s a wine cave, heated pool, forest, and rose garden. The booking includes a butler, housekeeping, and chef, and costs $17,083 per night—or $854 per person, given that the château can fit 20 guests. (It’d be a great base to explore some of Europe’s even older medieval castles.)
For a large-party booking that’s a little lighter on the wallet, Casa Koko, in Punta Mita, Mexico, is an attractive option. For $3,500 a night, up to 22 guests can call this nine-bedroom, 12-bath home their own. (That’s $159 per person, per night, in case you’re wondering.) In addition to steps-from-the-beach access, the home also has its own infinity pool, hot tub, hammocks, and fire pit, which make it feel like you’ve booked a beach vacation all to yourself—well, along with 21 of your closest friends, that is.
If you’re looking for more solitude, however, you could head to the South Pacific: Te Kahu, which won New Zealand’s “Home of the Year” award in 2010, is also a part of Airbnb Luxe. Sleeping up to six guests and costing $2,578 per night, this “architectural masterpiece” on Lake Wanaka has comfy four-poster beds, a telescope for stargazing, and a sprawling, private courtyard. Vacation, is that you calling?
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