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5 Airbnb alternatives to bookmark for when we can travel again

Roshina Jowaheer
·5-min read
Photo credit: Holidaycottages
Photo credit: Holidaycottages

From House Beautiful

Despite the uncertainty around 2021 holidays, locked-down Brits are looking beyond the grim winter to summer staycations, and if last year is anything to go by, holiday rentals are likely to sell out when we're allowed to travel again.

As the vaccine is rolled out and cottages get booked up all around the country, you're probably wondering 'what are the best Airbnb alternatives when there's little to no availability?' Well, here at House Beautiful, we thought we'd help you out with the search by bringing you some of the best Airbnb alternatives for booking holiday rentals online.

While we can't say when we'll be free to travel again, these are the sites you'll want to bookmark for when we can start staycationing again.

Airbnb might be Britain's go-to site for beach houses, country boltholes in the Cotswolds, quirky treehouses and even cosy Christmas cottages, but it's not the only place to find a dream holiday rental.

Whether you're looking for an Airbnb alternative in the UK that's by the sea, nestled in the country or set bang in the middle of a city, you'll want to keep scrolling for our selection of self-catering providers.

We've picked some of the best Airbnb alternatives for finding holiday apartments, cottages and houses, so these are the ones to know about, whatever your staycation style.

These holiday booking sites are ideal for everyone too, including couples, families, solo travellers and even holidaymakers with dogs. From Snaptrip to VRBO, check out our favourite Airbnb alternatives for 2021.

Booking.com

Photo credit: Booking
Photo credit: Booking

Yes, really. You might know this Airbnb alternative for its hotels but Booking.com has a huge selection of rentals. One thing we love about the site is that it has variety down to a T. You can book a log cabin with a hot tub in Cumbria, something fabulously remote in the Outer Hebrides to see the Northern Lights, or an Insta-worthy apartment in London. During the pandemic, the free cancellation feature, which applies to many properties (check before booking) offers peace of mind. The user ratings are also handy for helping you choose a quality rental. You can search by apartments, cabins, cottages, boats, farm stays and even glamping – you name it, Booking.com has it!

VRBO

Photo credit: VRBO
Photo credit: VRBO

Formerly known as HomeAway before it relaunched in the UK under its American name, VRBO has been a key player in holiday rentals across the pond since the 90s. This Airbnb alternative has a similar offering to its competitor, with villas, apartments, castles, log cabins and everything in between from homeowners all around the UK. With VRBO, you can plan ahead using Trip Boards to save the places you love until you're ready to book. While the properties are brought to you by homeowners, there's 24/7 support from VRBO. It's a particularly good choice for families, with popular destinations including Whitby, St Ives, London (check out this gorgeous townhouse) and Tenby. We like the filters for searching by the features you prefer, including properties with hot tubs, the ones with parking, and cosy spots with a fireplace.

Holidaycottages.co.uk

Photo credit: Holidaycottages
Photo credit: Holidaycottages

One of the things we love about Holidaycottages.co.uk is its family values. There are over 6,000 cottages available from this Airbnb alternative but it retains a distinct personal feel. The focus is on country escapes and you'll find rentals up and down the country, from the Isle of Skye to Newquay. There are romantic rentals with character, impressive retreats for families and dog-friendly breaks. The website also has dedicated sections for holidaymakers in search of quirky getaways, cottages by the sea and luxury rentals. We love the Joules collection, too: a selection of 20 cottages with eye-catching sofas, handmade crockery and bright bedding from the British brand. If you have your heart set on a cottage, Holidaycottages.co.uk is a great place to start.

Snaptrip

Photo credit: Snaptrip
Photo credit: Snaptrip


Searching for a last-minute holiday? This Airbnb alternative is for you. Snaptrip launched in 2014 as a marketplace for late cottage deals. There are 60,000 professionally-managed rentals for you to browse, from the likes of Cottages.com, Hoseasons, Helpful holidays and dozens of other providers. It's ideal if you want a group, hen party or dog-friendly rental – although there are plenty of cute options for couples and solos. Snaptrip also offers member discounts including a special deals page, where you could be lucky enough to bag a cottage for 60 per cent cheaper than its original price. Like Airbnb, you'll find filters to search for the features you like, plus a keyword box which allows you to look for added extras, whether you fancy a place with a sauna or a games room.

Rural Retreats

Photo credit: Rural Retreats
Photo credit: Rural Retreats

With over 500 hand-picked holiday homes, we like this boutique rental site for the charm, character and unique features you'll find at its cottages. For an Airbnb alternative that offers memorable escapes, Rural Retreats is a site worth checking out. There are charming chocolate-box thatched cottages, like this adorable one in the Cotswolds, quirky stays, such as this romantic tower in Shropshire, and even lighthouses for a seaside getaway with a difference. Many of its buildings have historical importance, including Grade II Listed rentals, and the majority are nestled within glorious countryside so you can really get away from it all. There are also no additional fees and you'll receive a hamper when you arrive.

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