Ever wanted to work from a design masterpiece or spend your vacay in a beautiful countryside dwelling? Well, Airbnb is hoping to encourage users to do just that. On May 11, the vacation rental platform introduced several new features, including a website redesign that focuses on “categories” that sort 4.4 million of its listed homes into 56 (sometimes fun and quirky) groupings meant to inspire travelers. The categories highlight details like a stay’s style (such as container homes or bed-and-breakfasts), location (for example, beachfront or lakefront), and proximity to specific activities (like surfing or skiing).
At a media event in New York, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on Tuesday also announced two other new features for the platform bringing “the biggest change to Airbnb in a decade.” One of these features is its “split stays” function, which allows users to seamlessly split a trip (of a week or longer) between two homes. The other feature, called AirCover, is a set of complimentary travel protections Airbnb is offering for all guests when they book with the company.
What are Airbnb’s new categories?
According to Chesky, Airbnb created these new categories to showcase homes that users wouldn’t think to search themselves—stays like trullis (a trullo is a round stone house with a conical roof, FYI), vineyards, and shepherd’s huts. These 56 categories were created through machine learning and by Airbnb’s curation team and reflect industry trends. According to the company, nights booked in the first quarter of 2022 for summer travel to unique homes have grown 80 percent compared to 2019.
Previously, Airbnb organized its homes primarily by location, prompting users to input their desired travel destination, along with trip dates and the number of guests. The new web design hearkens back to Airbnb’s early days when its “collections” feature showcased cool and unique properties throughout the world.
Chesky told AFAR that the former collections feature resulted in thousands of new properties being added to the website, and he expects the same trend with Airbnb’s new category-led design rollout.
“Let’s take ‘design’ [Airbnbs]. I think a lot of people have designer homes that thought, ‘Well I don’t think my home is ready for Airbnb.’ I hope that when they see Frank Lloyd Wright homes, it’s like, ‘Well, Frank Lloyd Wright homes can be on Airbnb, maybe my home can be, too,’” he said.
So how wacky and interesting do these categories get? Here are some of our favorite examples that you can book.
Five of Airbnb’s new categories, including the camping category, fall under the activity umbrella (the other activity categories are golfing, skiing, ski-in/ski-out, and surfing). This canvas tent in Tetonia, Idaho, stands out as a spectacular stargazing location, complete with a queen bed, outdoor shower space, and outdoor kitchen. This Airbnb is one of 32,000 stays in the camping category.
Book Now: Teton Canvas Meadow Tent
Those browsing location-specific categories like “countryside” may care a lot more about the landscapes rather than interiors. To accommodate this, Airbnb’s curation team selects photos that emphasize the particular category a user is looking through when scrolling through the website. In this case, the picturesque meadow and mountainscape surrounding this Italian home are at the forefront of the imagery.
Book Now: Nature House-Bondo Valley Nature Reserve
This cozy cabin near Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Iceland, highlights its remote location as a part of the countryside category. Beyond the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, visitors here can explore nearby natural features like a small creek and lava field. There are more than 200,000 homes in Airbnb’s dreamy countryside category.
Book Now: Fossar Cabin
Travel to Girona, Spain, and you’ll find this cubic stay on a rural hillside. Featuring floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the home, this Airbnb emphasizes its uninterrupted views of the Mediterranean and the Cabo de Creus National Park. This home is among 27,000 homes featured in Airbnb’s design category.
Book Now: Sunflower House
Even homes designed by famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright aren’t out of Airbnb’s reach. Featured in more than 20 national and regional magazines, this stay in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, offers a 63-foot-long living room and wood-paneled ceilings among other features. As a part of the company’s redesign, users searching for homes in the new design category can see who designed the home and any publications that have featured it.
Book Now: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Schwartz House
Some stays on Airbnb are eccentric beyond any category. And for that, the company has made a catchall “OMG!” category with stays that will leave you with exactly that impression. Take Quetzalcoatl’s Nest, a complex in Mexico that delights guests with its freeform design and colorful exteriors, as one prime example of the category’s 700 stays.
Book Now: Quetzalcoatl’s Nest
If you’ve wanted to experience a life aquatic without the fear of what lurks in the depths of the ocean, sink into this New Zealand Airbnb. This stay earned an OMG! spot through its sheer amount of quirkiness–nautical mannequin and boat helm included. Bring your Beatles-loving crew and come aboard a ship that, according to the host, is “powered by love; because that’s what makes the world go round.”
Book Now: Yellow submarine
A few more new Airbnb categories we love . . .
The above examples showcase only a few of the listed stays. One of the biggest categories is “amazing pools” (which includes 1.5 million stays), tempting users with everything from scenic dips in Brazil to luxe swims in Cyprus. Another category,“ryokans,” showcases historic and elegant stays found throughout Japan. On Tuesday, Chesky said he anticipates that there will be “many more categories” added to the list.
And these categories aren’t the only way Airbnb is encouraging users to explore more of its unique properties. For people who want to take a longer trip–and a lot of them are, as the company reports nearly half of the stays booked in the first quarter of 2022 were for one week or more–Airbnb introduced its split stays function as part of its summer release.
What to know about Airbnb’s split stays feature
Airbnb’s “split stay” feature divides a user’s trip between two homes when searching for stays of a week or longer. There are several ways this feature pops up, one of them being when users run out of Airbnb options after inputting their trip details in the search bar. The feature also appears for users looking for longer stays in certain categories, like “national parks,” where the feature might ask if users would like to split their time between stays in Joshua Tree and Zion.
What to know about Airbnb’s AirCover option
Starting May 31, Airbnb will no longer consider contracting COVID-19 as a reason to cancel a rental and be refunded. Instead, Airbnb is offering AirCover protection, a free service for all people who book through the platform. The protection includes four components:
Booking protection guarantee: If an Airbnb host needs to cancel a booking within 30 days of check-in, the platform will find a similar or better listing or will refund the guest. Check-in guarantee: If a guest can’t check into their stay, and the host cannot resolve the issue, Airbnb will find a similar or better home for the stay or will issue a refund. Get-what-you-booked guarantee: If guests find at any time during their stay that the listing isn’t what the host advertised, guests have three days to report the issue and Airbnb will find a similar or better home or refund guests. 24-hour safety line: Airbnb is offering specially trained safety agents in the event guests feel unsafe.
>>Next: 7 Incredible Airbnb Beach Houses
Chloe Arrojado Chloe Arrojado is the associate editor of destinations at AFAR. She’s a big fan of cafés, dancing, and asking people on the street for restaurant recommendations.