Luxury vacation rental firms like OneFineStay and Inspirato offer a portfolio of homes and apartments in most major cities and vacation destinations. But how is it different from a long hotel stay?

Here’s an example: A member of the Inspirato club booked a villa in Tuscany as a surprise trip for his wife for her 40th birthday. Charged with the mission, his “Destination Concierge” (which comes free with membership) sprung into action. The client “told her that they were going out for dinner, but then he brought her to the airport” says Simona Bresciani, Inspirato’s Tuscany-based Destination Concierge. “He was a bit concerned about what to put in his wife’s suitcase. But after a few talks over the phone and a lot of confidence in me, he started to send me photos of her clothes and shoes and outfits, and I instructed him what to bring and what to leave at home.” It’s all in a day’s work for Bresciani, who has arranged private opera performances and planned a wedding for 106 people.

The concept of the “un-hotel” gained traction with the launch of AirBnB in 2008, but it wasn’t until recently that companies targeting the luxury market caught on. Along with Inspirato, services like OneFineStay offer seasoned travelers an upscale alternative to hotels—with the added benefit of personalized service in a unique, private setting. Here, we give you the skinny on these standout services.

Inspirato

Launched: 2011

Number of destinations: 65

Locations: Anguilla, Vietnam, Nantucket and more

Total number of properties available: 260

What’s included: A dedicated Destination Concierge assists with reservations, arranging babysitters and other requests. Properties feature Rivolta Carmignani bed linens and daily housekeeping.

Fees: A membership initiation fee of $ 17,500, plus an annual fee of $ 3,600

Website: inspirato.com 

OneFineStay

Launched: 2010

Number of destinations: 4

Locations: London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris

Total number of properties available: More than 1,300

What’s included: An iPhone stocked with recommendations from the home’s owner, a locally sourced welcome pack with items like tea and chocolate, luxe linens, towels and L’Occitane en Provence toiletries.

Fees: None

Website: onefinestay.com

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Luxury vacation rental firms like OneFineStay and Inspirato offer a portfolio of homes and apartments in most major cities and vacation destinations. But how is it different from a long hotel stay? Here’s an example: A member of the Inspirato club booked a villa in Tuscany as a surprise...