2017 Travel Trends: The Sharing Economy Goes High End

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A two-bedroom in London's Primrose Hill neighborhood.

The Haute Homestay

Local digs go high end with Onefinestay.

A four-bedroom in Southern California.
A historic townhouse in Brooklyn.

By Justin Paul
To truly experience a city like a local, start at its doorsteps. Over the past few years, private home and apartment rentals have brought the sharing economy to travel’s forefront. Occupying the penthouse perch among its peers is Onefinestay, which started with six stylish London flats in 2010 and now has more than 2,600 properties in Paris, Rome, New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. In April, the company’s popularity and discerning eye caught the attention of AccorHotels, which acquired it with the goal of expanding to more than 40 cities within the next five years.  
“Onefinestay is ideal for multigenerational travelers, but also for young couples,” says Isabel Bernardo, a New York City-based Virtuoso travel advisor. “Many millennials who started traveling by renting homes off VRBO and other websites are still looking for that local experience, but now with the luxuries and standards of five-star hotels.” 
This is not your grad student’s Airbnb: Onefinestay accepts less than ten percent of owners looking to place a home in the rental pool. Each property comes furnished with fine linens and toiletries, as well as an iPhone for free local calls and an app loaded with tips and neighborhood recommendations from the home’s owner. Greeters welcome guests at the door, walk them through the home, and answer any questions – how to operate the entertainment and alarm systems, say, or fire up the terrace grill.
“The high level of vetting and the support staff’s professionalism ensure that there’s no risk,” Bernardo says, noting that if a client has a special request, such as that the prestay cleaning crew use only organic products due to guest sensitivities, “they’re on it.” 
Whether it’s a whitewashed SoHo loft for two, a three-bedroom Hollywood Hills home with a private pool, or an exposed-timber Left Bank pied-à-terre, the properties immerse guests in destinations. Valuewise, with rentals ranging from $180 per night for a one-bedroom apartment to $4,699 per night for a home that sleeps eight, it’s often equal to or a better deal than nearby hotel suites. As Bernardo says, “You’re definitely getting the bang for your buck.”
More 2017 Travel Trends:
The Kinder, Gentler Airport
The Future of Hospitality
The Smarter Suitcase
The At-Sea Retiree
 Originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Virtuoso Life.