Where to Stay

What is Airbnb Plus? And is it Worth the Extra Cost?

by Brittany Varano

converted train car tennessee
Photo: Airbnb

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Airbnb Plus is an exclusive invitation-only program that helps travelers distinguish between the ordinary and the extraordinary on Airbnb.

You’re probably already familiar with Airbnb, the home rental platform that allows people from around the world to rent out their spare bedrooms, entire homes, and unique stays to other people. Over the last decade, Airbnb has become extremely popular as travelers realize it’s a great way to add a touch of authenticity to travel, to save some money over an expensive hotel, or to find a getaway location in their own home town.

What makes Airbnb properties so unique is that they often take best amenities hotels and combines them with the privacy and convenient touches of home, often with a one-of-a-kind finish. No matter what you’re looking for, from hot tubs to pools or gourmet kitchens to heated bathroom floors, there’s an Airbnb for everyone. And that includes people looking for treehouses, yurts, or sprawling private ranches.

Today, Airbnb has a few different programs to help distinguish the top-rated properties from the rest, and one of these is Airbnb Plus. Launched in 2018, the program recognizes the most exceptional homes listed on the site. According to Airbnb, “the program allows hosts to apply to receive a plus classification that recognizes listings with exceptional quality, comfort, and style.”

Airbnb Plus is essentially a quick and easy way to find high-quality home that offer luxurious or stylish experiences that go above and beyond the average rental.

What’s the difference between Airbnb and Airbnb Plus?

Nearly anyone can list their vacation rental on Airbnb’s website, but only a select few hosts are invited to join the Airbnb Plus program. It’s a special title meant to showcase the best of the best and highlight the homes that are unique, whether in design, amenities, or experience.

This means that Airbnb Plus properties tend to feature exceptionally stylish decor, unique architectural features, warm and welcoming hospitality, and superior amenities as compared to “normal” listings.

Airbnb Plus Requirements

Before Airbnb properties are admitted into the Plus program, they must first meet a set of standards that help ensure the highest quality for guests.

A few of the standards stipulated by Airbnb include:

  • The home must have thoughtful touches that go above and beyond a typical Airbnb. So think complimentary coffee, comprehensive guidebooks, welcome baskets, etc.
  • The property should be uniquely designed, exceptionally cleaned after each and every stay, and feature high-end amenities like a sauna or a hot tub, to name a few examples.
  • The hosts must not have ever canceled a reservation on a guest throughout their history with the company.
  • The listing should have at least a 4.8-star rating or higher from the previous year.

After a host and a property are deemed worthy of the Plus program, Airbnb staff conduct a careful review to ensure the home checks all of their boxes for a high-end, luxurious stay. All in all, the Airbnb Plus program is all about providing guests a memorable and unique experience.

Is Airbnb Plus worth it?

It depends. If you plan to do more than just sleep in your Airbnb rental, than probably. If your rental is just a place to drop your stuff while you explore a city, it may not be worth the extra fee. But most people will likely appreciate the extra touches, especially as homes in the Airbnb Plus program run the gambit on price.

While there are countless wonderful Airbnb properties that don’t carry the distinction of Plus, those that do are often also the highest-rated properties in any given location. While Airbnb Plus properties can sometimes be a bit more expensive, they’re worth it for guests that prioritize stellar stays and appreciate the little things.

6 of the Best Airbnb Plus Rentals

1. Treehouse with Ocean View

ocean views treehouse CA
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Stylishly decorated treehouse perched above the trees overlooking Soquel Cove.

  • Location: Aptos, California
  • Sleeps: 6
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $538/night

Located only 15 minutes from Santa Cruz, this treehouse with an ocean view is a peaceful oasis in nature. What makes this spacious two-story treehouse so special is its immaculate attention to design. Mid-century furniture complements the domed ceiling, heated floors, and numerous glass panels that allow sunshine to stream in. Connecting the two floors, An attractive wooden spiral staircase connects the two floors and leads to the home’s three bedrooms.

The home has two entrances, each of which is accessed via an elevated walkways suspended between the trees – so before you walk in, you already feel as if you’re staying high in the trees. A spacious balcony with a hammock provides impressive views of the surrounding treetops and ocean from the living room. The redwoods in Forests of Nisene Marks State Park are nearby, and the San Jose airport is just a 42-minute drive away.

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2. Platform1346

Converted WWII Train Car airbnb plus
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Go back in time in this beautifully renovated WWII train car.

  • Location: Maryville, Tennessee
  • Sleeps: 4
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Rates from: $148/night

Platform1346 is a unique Airbnb Plus listing inside a vintage military kitchen train car. While the exterior is an authentic testament to its age, complete with a military-green paint job and rusting accents, one step inside and you’re immediately wowed by modern furnishings, plank wood flooring, and lovely decor.

This studio Airbnb Plus vacation rental features a full kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a relaxing soaking bathtub, and a cute dining bar with windows looking out onto the rolling green surroundings. The home is set on a well-manicured property that features a pond, a gazebo, a fire circle, a BBQ grill, and a deck with outdoor seating. This home is conveniently located only 20 minutes from McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Follow ‘em: Instagram

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3. The Ohana House

the ohana house
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: An architecturally unique tiny home in a volcanic lava field on Hawaii’s Big Island.

  • Location: Pāhoa, Hawaii
  • Sleeps: 4
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Rates from: $98/night

The Ohana House is a one-of-a-kind custom-designed tiny home offering a high-end glamping experience in a somewhat remote location near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Around the home are remarkable sights of the still-active Kilauea Volcano and the hardened Kalapana Lava Field. Guests can’t get enough of the uniquely Hawaiian landscape and reviews praise the experience of relaxing from the home’s central lanai, furnished for outdoor dining.

This eye-catching modern home is also unique in that it’s an open-air style home with two separate living spaces on either side of the lanai. On one side, you’ll find two cozy bedrooms, and on the other, the full bathroom and kitchen. The home is entirely self-contained (i.e. off the grid,) but it has everything you need, including electricity and Wi-Fi.

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4. Renew Cabin

tiny camp arizona airbnb plus rental
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: A tiny home with a private hot tub surrounded by striking canyon views.

  • Location: Sedona, Arizona
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $179/night

The Renew Cabin is a classic Sedona retreat tucked away in one of Arizona’s most beautiful destinations. Inside this tiny home are southwestern decor and accents, a comfortable and well-optimized living room area, and luxurious additions like a relaxing hot tub and private yoga deck. To make the most of the small space, the bedroom is lofted above the kitchen so you can sleep in a cozy semi-private nook.

As gorgeous as the home is, its location is equally superb. With Slide Rock State Park and the hiking trails of the diverse Coconino National Forest right at your fingertips, there’s no shortage of incredible things to do in nature. The Grand Canyon is also about two hours away, offering a bucket-list worthy day trip for those up for an adventure.

Follow ‘em: Instagram

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5. Dome in the Desert

dome in the desert joshua tree airbnb
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: Colorful bohemian styling in a unique dome-shaped home outside Joshua Tree National Park.

  • Location: Joshua Tree, California
  • Sleeps: 4
  • Minimum stay: 2 nights
  • Rates from: $226/night

The Dome in the Desert is a trendy Airbnb that’s caught the attention of notable publications like Condé Nast Traveler and Refinery29. This dream of an Instagram backdrop has all-white walls, concrete flooring, and southwest-inspired textiles that marry wonderfully with the vibrant yellows and warm tones.

Standout features of this cute two-bedroom dome include a new-age stainless wood burning stove, a cozy hanging hammock chair, and eclectic art pieces. Cheerful interior aside, this SoCal vacation rental boasts a prime location near Joshua Tree National Park, the hip boutiques and restaurants of downtown Joshua Tree, and the Outdoor Desert Art Museum.

Follow ’em: Instagram

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6. Historic Carriage House

Historic Carriage House denver
Photo: Airbnb

Why you should stay: A lovingly revamped horse stable-turned-Airbnb with unique accents and sincere hospitality.

  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Sleeps: 3
  • Minimum stay: 1 night
  • Rates from: $124/night

Denver’s historic carriage house boasts an impressive five-out-of-five stars from more than 700 reviews – no small feat when it comes to Airbnb ratings. The homes physical features like the original exposed brickwork and eclectic retro decor will definitely catch your eye, but the host’s reputation for providing a memorable and comfortable stays for each guest is what really shines here. You can expect lovely touches like a comprehensive guidebook to the best local restaurants and things to do as well as a fully stocked kitchen with complimentary coffee.

The home’s heated concrete floors are another cozy little touch that ensures you stay toasty warm on chilly days, as well the hot tub tucked just outside the front door in the property’s garden. This Airbnb listing is often touted as one of Colorado’s most unique Airbnbs, and it’s even caught the eye of Architectural Digest editors.

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