When it first opened, one of Airbnb’s main draws was that its properties often cost less—and felt more inspiring—than run-of-the-mill hotels. But now, it’s offering rentals on thousands of high-end homes even the most discerning traveler would enjoy.
On Tuesday, the company launched Airbnb Luxe, a new tier designed for users “seeking luxury,” according to The New York Times. Luxe’s portfolio includes 2,000 properties, ranging from a stunning beach-front villa in Mexico to an architectural marvel of a ski lodge in New Zealand. There’s even a regal 18th-century estate in France. The first batch of listings was selected from the 5,000 properties available through Luxury Retreats, a high-end rental company that Airbnb acquired in 2017.
The move comes one year after Airbnb saw a 60 percent increase in bookings for properties that cost more than $1,000 per night. But the company is keen to impress that the listings—whether it be the Jamaican beach house where Ian Fleming wrote some of his James Bond novels or a Renaissance villa in the Tuscan countryside—aren’t just nice-looking properties with the price tag to match. Airbnb has vetted each destination to make sure guests will feel a sense of connection to the places they’re visiting, while also getting the five-star treatment that luxury travelers are accustomed to.
A spokesperson for the company assured Robb Report that each listing goes through a very rigorous evaluation process that considers a myriad of different aspects like design, feel, location and services offered. As part of the evaluation process, each property must meet a lengthy, 300-point checklist as well as pass an in-person inspection. The process is so detailed that only five percent of the properties considered for Luxe actually qualify.
Each listing also comes with access to a 24/7 dedicated trip designer, who will make sure that each guest’s experience is exactly what they want it to be. The trip designer will be able to do everything from overseeing an effortless check-in, coordinating authentic local experiences and activities and arranging everything from childcare to private chefs and personal trainers.
While Luxe is uncharted territory for the company—a previous tier, Plus, is more upmarket than standard Airbnb, but really doesn’t compare—other companies, like HomeAway and Oliver’s Travels, have already been serving upscale clientele for years now. Marriot International and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts have also recently launched ventures looking to capitalize on the interest in luxury home rentals around the world.