More choice isn’t always better.
Cases in point: Airbnb has more than 7 million listings in at least 220 countries. VRBO has another two million. They offer travelers options at a range of price points almost anywhere in the world.
But wading through their listings, even after you’ve applied filters to winnow search results, can be a daunting, time-consuming task. And parents traveling with children have additional concerns. Is there a baby gate for those stairs? Where’s the closest playground? Is the city center too long a walk for little legs? That’s not to mention broader concerns like cleanliness, host reliability, and whether listings are even legit.
Smaller, specialized listing agencies can take the hassle and worry out of booking a vacation home. They offer curated rosters of properties, high-touch customer service, and a little more peace of mind—especially since many of them manage the listings they rent. And for families, the details they offer in listing descriptions can answer a lot of questions up front.
Here are some of our favorite boutique agencies for your next family vacation home rental.
Kid & Coe
This meticulously curated site is dedicated to helping families with children find the perfect vacation rental. Listings are comprehensive and answer the questions you didn’t even know you had, like whether the pool is fenced off for safety, how many kids’ beds there are, and where the closest family-friendly museums are. We like that Kid & Coe offers properties in a variety of city, countryside and tropical locations, and flags those most suitable to babies and toddlers, elementary-age and bigger kids.
If you love the amenities of 5-star hotels but also the privacy and space of a vacation rental, then look to OneFineStay, which layers high-touch concierge service on top of high-end properties. Posh accommodations range from chic city apartments to stunning Mediterranean or Caribbean villas. Bigger kids will argue over who gets the top bunk in this stylish Tribeca apartment, while a multigenerational group will enjoy the outdoor spaces and turquoise waters of this Turks & Caicos beach villa.
With properties in the U.K. and several European countries (plus a handful in the U.S.), Plum Guide stands out for its highly selective listings, like this modern pool villa near Noto, Sicily. Their design-focused homes go through a rigorous testing and selection process; once you enter your criteria, your results will show only the top three percent of homes in each price bracket, with selections based on member ratings. If you’re looking for a vacation rental and get easily exasperated with scores of search results, this might be the site for you.
Boutique vacation-management company StayMarquis goes to all the right places, with about 600 listings—mostly in the Hamptons, but also a dozen other high-end destinations in the U.S. and the Caribbean. We appreciate that despite the tony locations, there are properties at several different price points. They range from vintage Long Island beach houses that rent for around $1,000 a night to ultra-luxe Aspen mansion that sleeps 14 and costs close to $30,000 per night. Maybe if you split it 14 ways?
Considered a disrupter in the hospitality industry, Sonder is a hybrid between a hotel and vacation rental. The company, which concentrates its efforts in cities, leases units in apartment buildings and rents them, hotel-style, to travelers who want an urban experience but who aren’t keen to stay in a hotel. Sonder is the single host, so there are no worries about fly-by-night owners or fake listings, and each unit comes with some hotel amenities. We love this as a way to give kids a real city experience yet with a cozy crash pad, like at this vintage Lafayette Square apartment in New Orleans.
If you’re looking for a more socially responsible version of the vacation rental, Vacasa offers options you can feel good about. The company, which manages the properties on its platform, makes social responsibility, diversity and community involvement central to its mission. At its 30,000-plus listings, which are mostly in the US, guests are encouraged to patronize local businesses and, in some locations, participate in community improvement programs. You may have to look a little harder here to find kid-friendly options but they’re there, like this vintage Arts & Crafts charmer in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.