Penthouses and chateaux are a far cry from the sofas and spare rooms that launched vacation rental behemoth Airbnb.
Eleven years after Airbnb founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia invited renters to sleep on air mattresses in their San Francisco apartment, Airbnb has launched an exponentially more luxurious tier of rental properties with Airbnb Luxe.
The 2,000 newly listed properties were drawn from Luxury Retreats, a separate rental site acquired by Airbnb in 2017. That site continues to operate independently, with a total of 5,000 luxury listings around the world.
Airbnb Luxe marks a shift in strategy for the company, which had originally intended to spin the luxury properties into a brand called Beyond by Airbnb.
“After introducing Beyond last year, we took a step back to really think about the right brand approach,” Airbnb spokeswoman Maria Rodriguez told CNN Travel.
“And the truth is that we already had a great luxury brand in Luxury Retreats and the Airbnb brand itself is incredibly strong; it’s one of our real differentiators. So we made the decision not to introduce a new brand in Beyond.”
The new Luxe tier, which pairs luxurious homes and “trip designers” who can arrange experiences and services tailored to guests’ desires, is essentially the revised Beyond concept.
Luxe homes have passed a 300-point inspection to qualify for the tier, Rodriguez says, and they average nightly rates of $1,500 to $2,000.
“With Airbnb Luxe we are applying the same approach we’ve used since we launched Airbnb more than 11 years ago – creating local, authentic and magical travel moments now in amazing places to stay – to reimagine the way people think and experience luxury travel,” Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky said in a statement.
The new tier is a big step above Airbnb’s Plus tier, introduced in February 2018, where homes undergo a 100-point inspection and average $150 per night.
Plus-level homes may have hosts present and could still be spare rooms in a larger house, according to Rodriguez. No hosts are present in Luxe-level offerings, which are often multi-story mansions or impressive urban pieds-à-terre.
For ultimate exclusivity, there’s a private island in French Polynesia, Nukutepipi, that can accommodate 52 guests in its 21 bedrooms and whopping 25 baths. That’ll run you about $150,000 a night. Without an air mattress in sight.