I have to admit, I once loved Airbnb. It made it easy to find an affordable place to stay where and we could read the reviews to know what we were getting ourselves into. Each time meeting a host that gave us local recommendations and even made lasting friendships.
Unfortunately, this has changed. Airbnb is no longer a homeowner trying to make a little extra money but is not full of investors and big businesses taking advantage of the short-term rental market. I am not against short-term rentals, but with how things have changed, I decided to look for alternatives.
I looked to Plum Guide to solve a few problems I have had with Airbnb.
- Glamorized photos that do not match the accommodations
- Glorified reviews
- Poor customer service and communication with hosts
A Review of Plum Guide
As the Plum Guides’ motto states, it is not just a booking platform. They are the benchmark for quality.
The name Plum Guide is derived from the original company name “PLU & M”, an acronym for “People Like You & Me”.
Plum Guide was launched in 2016 based in London, England, and has spread across Europe, the UK, and part of the US to search for the finest luxury properties available for rent. In doing so, it ensures that every property under Plum Guide’s umbrella undergoes a thorough, multi-step vetting process to take away the headaches and anxiety customers go through when booking a vacation home.
Plum Guide, the “Michelin Guide to Homes,” uses a proprietary algorithm to find the best-rated and most conveniently located properties in a given area. At the time of writing, there are more than 15,000 vacation homes listed online. The selection is overwhelming, from rural areas to coastal regions and ski resorts to smaller towns. And the list goes on and on.
So why would this solve the problems I have had with Airbnb? Each property on Plum Guide is properly vetted, vetted, and graded to make it on the website.
What to expect from a Plum Guide accommodation
Plum Guide does not just recommend the best vacation homes and apartments. Plum Guide hospitality critics interview hosts and inspect accommodations. That’s how we make sure what you see in the property description is real and authentic. And that’s why only the top 3% of properties in each city are selected to be included in the prestigious portfolio.
These critics rate accommodations based on a checklist that measures everything from the height of the showerhead to the softness and fluffiness of the pillows.
The Plum Guide Test
When someone is adding their home to Airbnb they can say or omit whatever they would like. The Plum Guide reviews accommodations and includes a personal visit to verify the listings before they can be added to the website.
Passing all 4 stages of The Plum Test and achieving the Plum award ensures the accommodation you book has been carefully selected and has all the amenities that will give you a memorable stay.
Every time the Plum Guide launches into a new destination they review the current homes available and review each one, looking for positive reviews, great locations, and great design. Hosts are interviewed and the top properties are nominated.
To win the Plum Award, each property needs to delight a Plum Guide guest and it must pass the Plum Home Test, conducted by an independent Homey Critic.
Plum Test Criteria.
When a home is reviewed by the Plum Guide, they go over 150 criteria. The criteria range from measurable things like WiFi speed and noise levels, but also the aesthetics and usability of the space.
Where Are The Plum Guide Properties Located?
Currently, Plum Guide has properties listed in 17 countries, mainly in the European Union (Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain), the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, Croatia, Montenegro, Mexico, Cyprus, and Turkey.
Originally, Plum Guide targeted only the major, popular international cities such as London, Los Angeles, Paris, New York, Rome, Barcelona, Lisbon, Copenhagen, Berlin, and Tel Aviv, where most tourists stay. But since the beginning of the pandemic, Plum Guide has been working to expand its services not only to tourist areas, but also to rural and coastal areas, ski resorts, and much smaller cities. With this, they want to offer travelers more choice and convenience on their trips.
How much does the rental cost at Plum Guide?
Since Plum Guide is not a typical vacation rental, you should expect that there are not too many budget properties on the list, as prices are usually in the mid-to-high-end range.
Prices depend on the area, the number of guests, and the type of property. You can find a home as low as $100 per night and as high as $5000 per night. All fees and charges such as cleaning and service fees are also included in the total price. Different currencies are available for easy conversion. Just select the currency you would like to pay in.
Read the cancelation policy of the accommodation carefully so that no mishap happens to you after booking.
To Give you an idea, here are some examples of Plum Guide rentals
The Invisible House, San Bernardino County
This house will leave you speechless. The walls are made of glass, bringing the view outside inside the house in a fascinating and unique way. The pristine, rural, and rugged surroundings are sure to please. Swim in nature with the 100-foot indoor pool. Truly a luxury in the most esthetically pleasing, effortless, and casual way situated in Joshua Tree.
Plum Guide Award: Winner
Skyline Fairy Tale, Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn, New York is known for its charming low-rise buildings and red brick, but this chic little apartment is an oasis of modernity. From your terrace, you’ll have views of the iconic Manhattan skyline while you dine or simply enjoy a drink as the sun sets over the city. When night falls, you can admire the twinkling lights of the city through your master bedroom window while the kids enjoy themselves in their cozy, tent-like bed. Pets are allowed in your home.
Plum Guide Award: Nominee
King Bishopsgate, London
If you are a business traveler looking for accommodation in the city, look no further. This property is located across the street from Liverpool Street Station, from where you can easily reach Shoreditch. The apartment is rather functionally furnished, which is essential for a shorter stay in the city. The bedroom decor is minimalist and offers plenty of natural light. For solo travelers who want to stay in the heart of the city, this apartment is ideal.
Villa Icarus, Greece
This Santorini vacation home is tucked away amidst olive groves, fragrant cypress trees, and shrubs such as kermes oak. This hillside villa offers a welcome retreat near the beautiful coastline of Crete. The villa blends in very well with its surroundings, almost disappearing into the background from afar. Outside, an inviting pool with sun loungers, an alfresco dining area, and lushly planted flower beds are waiting for you to spend the afternoon. Or visit the beautiful Venetian port town of Rethymno, just a fifteen-minute drive away – a great way to spend the afternoon.
Plum Guide Award: Nominated
The Crystal Decanter, Paris
You will not have to worry about a thing during your stay at this luxury aparthotel, thanks to 24-hour concierge, butler, and room service whenever you want. Valet parking for your car in the underground garage is also available. Wake up to a continental breakfast delivered to your room at the time of your choosing. Not bad, right? The house is sleek and minimalist and has one recognizable neighbor, the Eiffel Tower on the right side of your bay window.
Plum Guide Award: Winner
How is Plum Guide Different From Airbnb?
Plum Guide provides a great alternative to Airbnb. They have a lot in common, but there are a few things that set them apart.
1. Property Types
Due to the criteria properties need to meet to be on Plum Guide, it has better quality rentals than Airbnb. Plum Guide’s photos are of better quality than the average Airbnb listing. Also, Plum Guide is more curated and competitive, as properties are thoroughly evaluated to ensure the property meets all the requirements set by Plum Guide. After a successful booking of a new property, a Plum Guide reviewer will personally inspect the home to ensure it meets Plum Guide’s standards.
Plum Guide listings are much clearer than Airbnb listings. Information about the accommodation such as the number of beds, size of beds, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, cleaning standards, amenities, and parking is more standardized and clear on Plum Guide’s listings page.
Also, unlike Airbnb, Plum Guide does not offer private rooms, shared rooms, and empty campsites.
If you are looking for the cheapest option, you should go for Airbnb, but be prepared for some disappointments and unfulfilled expectations. With Plum Guide, it might be a bit more expensive, but the quality is always guaranteed thanks to the Plum test.
The prices of accommodations on Plum Guide are going to be more than Airbnb on average, but there are still very affordable options available for under $200 a night, some even under $100, largely dependent on the budget.
3. Quality vs. Quantity
The way Plum Guide tests properties before listing them on its website saves guests time searching and creating a list of the best available properties in each city. It may seem that your selection is limited, but Plum Guide expands and ensures that their properties are also increased.
One thing you will notice on Plum Guide’s website is that, unlike Airbnb, there are no user-generated reviews and ratings on the platform. This is because the company has decided to stop including reviews, as it conducts tests before listing the property and after the first successful booking. However, guests can still leave private reviews for the host and Plum Guide staff.
How to book a vacation rental on Plum Guide
Booking on Plum Guide is quite easy. Just go to the website, create an account or do it later and search properties by date, location, number of guests, and other information. When you find your dream vacation home, read all the details about the property, do not leave anything out, look at all the photos, check the cancelation policy and if everything seems good, book it.
Some properties require permission from the host, but most are available for immediate booking.
Our Verdict On The Plum Guide
If you are looking for a luxury vacation home, you should give Plum Guide a chance. If Airbnb encourages travelers to live like the locals, Plum Guide encourages you to live like the other half. Plum Guide allows you to live like the royals, kings, queens, and elites.
Plum Guide is definitely worth trying out.
Can I add my property to Plum Guide?
Yes, you can. If you are a property owner or landlord, you can send an email to Plum Guide expressing your desire to add your property to the platform. If Plum Guide’s initial criteria are met, you will be listed.
After listing and initial posting. A Plum Guide reviewer will personally visit your property for final evaluation and approval.
The application and initial listing are free, but after the first guest, you will have to pay an apartment fee of US$400 (£300), right after the first booking. This fee covers the creation of the listing and set-up, including an editorial blurb and property description, a visit fee for Plum Guide reviewers, and a photoshoot if you deem it necessary. If you never receive a posting, you will not be charged.
A service charge of 3% plus any local taxes and duties will be applied to each booking.
Unfortunately, Plum Guide only takes whole houses, and private rooms or shared spaces are not accepted in their listings.