A Guide to Alternative Accommodations

Where to stay when you’re not feeling a hotel

As we return to travel, you may be wondering: where are the best places to stay?

If you’re still a little wary about staying in hotels, we get it—a lot of guests are in and out and you come into contact with many different people during a stay.

So why not opt for alternative accommodations?

First of all, what are alternative accommodations? Alternative accommodations can be defined as any type of accommodation outside the formal or organized accommodation sector. Basically, anything other than a hotel. 

And these types of accommodations are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, the pandemic proved that this space is on the rise and will only continue to grow. According to PhocusWire, a mere 1% shift in U.S. accommodation market share from hotels to alternative lodging translates into more than $2.5 billion in bookings.

So what types of alternative accommodations should you consider? Well, in addition to Airbnb, here are some of our favorite sites to browse.


As its website states, Sonder sees itself as “the future of hospitality”, where award-winning design meets mobile-first service. Currently, the $1 billion hospitality startup has 9,000 rental apartments in cities like New York, Dublin, Austin, Barcelona, Dubai, London, and more. So what makes it different from Airbnb? Instead of being mainly made up of individuals renting out their homes, Sonder leases and manages its own rentals, which are licensed as hotels. It also doesn’t feel like you’re staying in someone’s home—while still feeling cozier and more personal than staying at a hotel. The accommodations are also cleaned to the standard of a hotel and often provide access to the building’s amenities.


Mexico City-based hospitality startup Casai was born from CEO Nico Barawid’s frustration of having to choose between hotels and Airbnbs that weren’t up to snuff, like those offering lackluster Wifi. Its name, Casai, comes from Casa-AI, a “casa intelligente” or smart home. Like Sonder, they prioritize tech and design, providing high-tech features such as smart home devices and keyless check-in, luxury amenities, and locally-sourced design. While, unlike Sonder, Casai doesn’t own the units, they make arrangements with landlords so that the units are exclusive to Casai. They currently offer accommodations in Mexico—including Mexico City, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, and Tulum—and Brazil—including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Florionopolis.


Based in Portland, Oregon, Vacasa is an international vacation rental management company that provides property management services for over 30,000 vacation rentals in North America, Belize, and Costa Rica. Similar to Airbnb, users list their homes with Vacasa; unlike Airbnb, Vacasa takes care of the rest, providing local teams and continuous care for every home. Vacasa also prioritizes premium cleaning services, linens, and toiletries, as well as modern tech like smart locks. Whether you’re looking for a ski resort adventure, island getaway, or mountain retreat, Vacasa has you covered.


For those in the US who want to get back to the great outdoors, Getaway offers escapes to nature to let you “unplug from work, wifi, and routines, and reconnect to who and what matters most.” Just two hours outside major cities, Getaway’s cozy cabins provide restorative stays in nature. Simply type in your outpost (nearest city), the number of guests and pets, how many beds you need, and your dates, and you’ll be one step away from your next outdoor retreat! You can even add experience kits and sustenance boxes to your adventure.

While these are the most up-and-coming alternative accommodation platforms, there are also other alternatives like RV marketplaces Outdoorsy and GoCamp (Need a place to go? Check out Harvest Hosts), glamping, and more.

What will you choose for your next adventure?


Portico helps you better organize travel ideas. Our picks are independently selected. If you buy something we link to, we may earn commission from qualifying purchases.