As the country begins to reopen, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
A decade ago, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia started renting out air mattresses in their cramped San Francisco apartment to visitors who needed a place to stay. That simple idea, of course, would become Airbnb and change the way we travel. Just look at the numbers: In 2008, the year the site launched, some 400 people booked lodging through the company. Since then, more than 300 million travelers across 191 countries have used the service.
Now, with a slew of new categories being rolled out, like upscale, preinspected homes and houses geared toward families or business travelers and new experiences including private concerts, workshops, and dinners at the best restaurants in town, the company wants to change the game again by making it easier for you to travel like a local, wherever you go. Here’s a breakdown of all the new things Airbnb can do for you.
Rent Nicer Homes with Hotel-Like Amenities
Airbnb Plus is basically a curated list of unique homes that have been vetted for quality. Each house approved for the service has to pass a lengthy checklist to ensure it features comforts like fast internet, quality linens, sleek design, clutter-free closets, and a well-stocked kitchen. And while there are currently around 2,000 Airbnb Plus homes in 13 cities—Austin, Barcelona, Cape Town, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Melbourne, Milan, Rome, San Francisco, Shanghai, Sydney, and Toronto—more cities are on the way by the end of the year.
The homes average $250 a night—about $100 more than a standard Airbnb rental—but many promise a spectacular experience. Check out this farmhouse on a vineyard ($312 a night) in Cape Town, South Africa, which has a pool, massive backyard, and an on-site host who will pour you a glass of locally made wine. Or this eclectic bungalow ($130 a night) steps from the beach in Venice, California, that comes with surfboards to borrow.
Or Just Stay at an Actual Hotel
While Airbnb already allowed users to book rooms at select hotels and inns, new features are being added soon to make them even easier to find. To supplement the current categories (entire place, private room, or shared room), the site will be rolling out four new filters this summer that will let you sort specifically for bed and breakfasts or boutique hotels, as well as vacation homes and unique spaces like treehouses, yurts, or backyard Airstream trailers.
Until then, you’ll just have to work a little harder to book one of the five poolside, midcentury modern rooms at the Amado ($175 a night) in Palm Springs, California, or a bunkbed at the Bivvi ($39 a night) in Breckenridge, Colorado, where breakfast comes included.
Find a House Your Kids Will Love
Airbnb’s new collections, launched with lists of bookings curated for families and work trips, will expand this summer to include catalogs of venues specifically selected for weddings, honeymoons, group trips, and even dinner parties.
Under the families collection, you’ll find homes highly rated by parents with perks like cribs, bunk beds, and spacious backyards. Our favorites included this kid-friendly getaway in North Carolina’s Outer Banks ($89 a night), which comes with games, children’s movies, a high chair, and ample beaches nearby, and this sleek cabin ($450 a night) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which has a bunk room and an extraordinary porch.
Listen to a Live Concert in a Yurt or on a Boat
While you’re booking housing, you can now sign up for local experiences and activities, such as surf lessons in Bali, guided hiking with mountaintop yoga in Los Angeles, or monitoring sea turtles in Costa Rica. You can also make restaurant reservations in many major cities.
The coolest new feature, however, is this: Airbnb just added concerts, where you can join small gatherings in 25 select cities to hear musicians perform live music in unique venues like yurts, distilleries, steamships, and churches.