If given the choice, I will always choose a vacation rental property over a hotel stay when I travel. For decades I used VRBO or One Fine Stay and then came Airbnb. Airbnb was a game-changer and we as travellers fell under their spell. But they are just not the same as they once were. Enter Plum Guide, an up-and-coming luxury vacation rental property company that is offering a better alternative and choice than Airbnb. Intrigued? Continue reading my Plum Guide review.  

What is Plum Guide?

Plum Guide is a custom-curated marketplace of vacation rentals. Simply, it means they have carefully scoured sites like Airbnb, VRBO and One Fine Stay to find only the very best properties. To them, it’s not about quantity it’s about quality. And that means a far better experience. Let’s face it, who has that kind of time to sift through endless amounts of properties only to find maybe one or two viable options? Definitely not me!

“Plum” or People Like You & Me is a company that stands behind its promise: 

  1. What you see is what you get due to their rigorous vetting process. More on that later. 
  2. You’ll never pay more as they perform a daily price match ensuring that prices on their website are the same or cheaper.
  3. They’re with you every step of the way with their amazing concierge services 24/7 throughout your stay. 

What makes Plum Guide stand out from the rest is that it offers only the best property rental. Each of the holiday homes is selected through a careful, expert-vetted process representing the top 3% of vacation rental sites. These luxury properties are not budget-friendly but are accessible across low, medium, and high price points. 

Plum Guide vs. Airbnb

Plum Guide, like Airbnb and VRBO, is a vacation rental website. They serve as a marketplace for property owners and travellers like you and me to book their holiday homes. They all look and operate the same way- how you search, how you communicate, and how you book- are all very similar. But that is where the similarities end. 

There are over 15,000,000 vacation homes listed online with Airbnb, VRBO, and others. Even for someone like me who loves to plan holidays, this can be overwhelming. There’s far too much choice and I spend hours, upon hours sifting through properties until I find the right one. It’s not that way with Plum Guide as they represent the top 3% of holiday homes. I can do a search within a matter of minutes and have found some amazing options. Why – they are all of the same caliber of design, ascetic, and amenities. 

Also, unlike the other booking sites where property owners leave it up to past guests to rate and review their property, that’s not how it works with Plum Guide. I don’t know about you, but can you ever really trust those ratings or reviews – good or bad? I can’t.  That’s where Plum Guide differs as they use actual science. The Plum Test determines what properties make for a perfect stay, and then only those make it onto their website.  

The Plum Test

So how rigorous is their vetting process you might wonder? It’s intense! First, they use 150 criteria that form what makes for a perfect stay. Everything from the atmosphere to the design to the service to the location. Properties that meet the wow factor are shortlisted and interviews are conducted next. A Plum team of experts only selects the top contenders who are nominated for the Plum Award, they refer to these properties as up-and-comer homes. They only award the prestigious Plum Award if a property wins over a Plum Guide guest and passes the Plum Home Test which is an independent Home Critic. 

Only 3% of homes in each destination win the prestigious Plum Award, making them the global quality standard for vacation homes. Plum Guide is considered the Michelin Star of vacation rental properties. So who doesn’t want to stay at this type of exclusive property? 

Plum Guide Properties

For those that know me and my content well, you know how much I love design and architecture. I have a discerning taste when it comes to accommodations and I don’t just stay anywhere. Finding amazing places to stay is kind of my thing and I’ve been known to plan my entire itinerary around finding the perfect place to stay. So you can only imagine the joy I felt when I stumbled onto the Plum Guide. They are now my go-to holiday home resource. So do you want to see a sample of some of their properties? OK, but I’m warning you, it might cause you to book a trip and go!  

Top Properties in the UK

Travelling to Bath or Brighton, Cotswolds or Cornwall, Devon or Dorset, and many others. And, of course, London. Here are a few of the properties I found:

  1. Georgian Courtyard in Bath – Jane Austen fans will fall in love with this elegant Georgian home with the loveliest courtyard   
  2. The Cowshed in Dorset – stay in this converted barn for a tranquil getaway 
  3. Repeating Patterns in Gloucestershire – lovely traditional farm cottage is full of charm inside and out  
  4. Pear Jam in London – this trendy modern apartment is in a converted old Lipton tea factory 
  5. Lord Lovat in London – all-white interior showcases original details of the fireplace, crown mouldings, and art collection
  6. Or, do your own UK search

Trip Planning Resources | check out my London content

Top Properties in Paris

If you’re travelling to Paris check out just some of these beautiful properties in some of the best areas in the city:

  1. Babylon & Bliss in Le Marais – modern and stylish vibes featuring a great art collection in every room of this 1-bedroom
  2. Sweet Amour in Montmartre – this 1-bedroom apartment oozes classic Parisian style with touches of modern
  3. The Lordly Rams in the 2nd arrondissement – this 2-bedroom sophisticated apartment is in the ideal chic Vivienne neighbourhood
  4. Lavender & Rose in 3rd arrondissement – this pretty, feminine 3-bedroom apartment in the heart of Le Marais
  5. Romance by the River in the 1st arrondissement – this 1-bedroom apartment is perfect for a romantic couple’s stay with views of the Seine river
  6. Or, do your own France search

Trip Planning Resources | Jump over to see all of my Paris content (oh, yes, there’s lots!)

Top Properties in Italy

Whether you are looking for a chic modern apartment in some of Italy’s top cities or a century-old villa with sweeping countryside views, here are a few of my favourites:

  1. Metal Fizz in Florence – this light, airy 1-bedroom loft dates back to the 1400s
  2. Barocco Charm in Rome – this 1-bedroom charmer has all original 17th-century features of beamed ceiling and stone walls
  3. Grey Gossamer in Rome – a 1-bedroom set in a historic building with a quiet terrace in the heart of the old city
  4. The Breadbasket in Tuscany – this 4-bedroom beautiful villa with a pool and sweeping countryside views
  5. Star-Sprinkled Skies in Tuscany – this 4-bedroom Italian villa is  a former farmhouse with a pool  
  6. Or, do your own Italy search here

Trip Planning Resources | Check out all of my Italy content

Top Properties in Spain & Portugal

Enjoy your sunny holiday in Spain or Portugal in one of these stunning properties.

  1. On the Lookout in Porto – this warm, relaxed 2-bedroom has a private rooftop terrace with impressive views
  2. Blue Creek in Lisbon – is a bright 2-bedroom with many balconies offering views of the city streets 
  3. Tide Hound in Lisbon – is a stylish studio in the Chiado-Baixia neighbourhood perfect for a solo or couple stay
  4. In the Terrarium in Madrid – 3-bedroom with glass terrarium balcony steps from a beautiful park
  5. Normaki in Barcelona – a 1-bedroom in the elegant Gracia barrio feels like a Japanese sanctuary 
  6. Under the Almond Trees in Majorca – a gorgeous 5-bedroom rustic stone villa with uninterrupted views 
  7. Or, do your own search for Spain and Portugal here

Trip Planning Resources | Check out my Spain content and Portugal content

Plum Guide Reviews

According to Trust Pilot, Plum Guide’s overall rating is 4.3 stars. 85% of the reviews on Plum Guide are 5 stars with very few negative comments. Negative comments related to customer service wait times and last-minute cancellation bookings. Read each vacation property’s cancellation policy carefully as each has its own rules.  

Compare this with Airbnb’s overall rating of 1.5 stars on Trust Pilot. This drastic decline in customer confidence has been over the last couple of years is due to rising costs, a saturation of properties, a lack of accountability of property owners, and not always a delivery as promised. VRBO fairs a little better with 3 stars.  

Plum Guide Locations

The downside of Plum Guide? Yes, there is one, and that’s they’re not everywhere. The locations of their quality vacation rental properties are primarily found in the UK and the top destinations in Europe – Paris, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal. Although you will find a limited offering in other European countries like Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, and the Netherlands. A recent addition is the United States with California, Colorado, Miami, Florida, and New York. And, in Canada, there are very few properties. 

As a holidaymaker…

It doesn’t take much convincing to see that Plum Guide is a better choice than Airbnb. If you love highly stylized holiday homes that offer amazing architecture and interior design then Plum Guide is the obvious choice. Book a stay in one of the world’s best homes. 

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  1. We LOVE renting homes when we travel and agree- it’s AMAZING when you find them outside of airbnb! I love the quality of service you get! These all look like incredible options! Those Paris apartments have me swooning!

  2. I have been hearing a lot about Plum Guide lately and I wasn’t really quite sure what it was all about. Thanks for the great explanation. I was surprised to learn how discerning their property approval process is, but all the better to ensure a quality stay. You summed it up perfectly by calling it the “Michelin Star of vacation rental properties”! Now, I know exactly where to look for my next getaway – I’m pretty picky and it sounds like Plum Guide has me covered. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. If you are picky about your accommodations, then this is definitely the vacation rental company you’ll want to use. They aim to be very choosy as to which properties make the cut!

  3. I’ve never heard of Plum before but it sounds awesome! It’s always great to have another accommodation option when traveling. So the next time I take a trip, I’ll be sure to check this out!

  4. Oh, it is always so great to have another option when searching for the perfect accommodation for a holiday. I like the idea of spending a bit more on a quality and luxurious vetted vacation rental. Bravo to Plum.

  5. I’m against Airbnb but am open to hearing about hotel alternatives or even serviced hotel apartments. I like that PLUM has specific criteria and a selection process which guarantees uniformity and high quality of standard every time you choose a rental with them. Like you, I’m a sucker for pretty accommodation that’s stylishly designed and offers that top-notch boutique feeling.

  6. I’m kind of done with Airbnb so it’s really nice and refreshing to hear of a different place to book vacation rentals. I still do love a hotel, but some of these places look so pretty, like Lavender & Rose in Paris. I want to stay there!! And the cowshed in the UK – what a cute looking place. I might have to check out Plum Guide for one of my next trips

  7. I’ve never heard of this, but will definitely check it out! I refuse to stay in AirBnB’s after they cancelled some reservations, and superhosts places were absolutely disgusting and they did nothing about it. You’re absolutely right quality > quantity especially for trips!

  8. Oh wow, I had no idea about Plum Guide. Indeed sounds like a much better option than Airbnb – would definitely like to explore the platform on my next vacation – thanks so much for this post ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Wow, I’ve never heard of Plum Guide, but I’ll definitely be looking into them after reading your post. I’ve been frustrated by AirBnB lately, and now, I almost always stay in a hotel because it’s cheaper/easier. It would be awesome to have another option with Plum Guide!

  10. Never heard of Plum Guide before but it seems to be fabulous alternative to much talked about Airbnb. Although I have never used Airbnb the concept of top properties only seems great and easier to choose. The ones showcased here all look beautiful places to put up. We are planning a Europe trip to few countries in October and since we haven’t yet booked our accomodation will have a look at Plum Guide before finalizing.

  11. I have never heard of Plum Guide before! It’s almost a relief that they don’t have as many properties, just the top 3%. That will be much easier to sift through. And they all look amazing!

  12. This is incredible! I never heard of Plum but I’m saving this for later! The concept is perfect. When you know you want quality it’s nice to have a place to go to where you don’t have to sift through all the nonsense. Thanks!

  13. These are beautiful homes that would clearly enhance any trip! Thanks a lot for the information and clarifications about Plum Guide. I also prefer homerentals over hotels and these are fantastic!

  14. It’s nice to have a new kid on the block to go to for rentals as AirBnB is not what it used to be. You have picked a lovely variety of properties to highlight in your post – the UK ones look amazing.

  15. I have only just started using Airbnb recently for my travels and I have found all the options extremely overwhelming! So glad there is an alternative, I will definitely be checking out Plum Guide – thanks for sharing.

  16. I have never heard about Plum Guide. I always opted for AirBnB and now after getting through all your reviews and pictures I must say Plum Guide is so niched. I would love to stay at Plum Guide whenever I get chance.

  17. This is a great one to know about! I have gone off using Airbnb recently but for special occasions, I will definitely turn to Plum Guide in the future. Those properties are stunning & even better that I live in the UK & it seems to have a good choice. Thanks for highlighting.

  18. thanks for opening my eyes to Plum Guide. I am going to definitely check it out. We practically live in Airbnbs. although we have had very few problems in our 120 Airbnb stays, as you say, it is not like it was in the beginning. Never hurts to branch out and check out the competition. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. I didn’t hear about Plum before but I would like to give it a go. It sounds like a great alternative to Airbnb, especially since what you see is what you pay. I used Airbnb a couple of times and didn’t have a good experience, especially with all the extra fees added on top. Also, one time the shower flooded and one of our group had to stay home and wait for the plumber.

  20. This Plum Guide is fantastic! If you’re searching for the perfect spot to stay, this is the best option. The examples above show how lovely their holiday rental properties areโ€”I absolutely adore them! The next time I need to reserve lodging for a vacation, I’ll definitely be using this platform.

  21. I like the luxury aspect and vetting that Plum guide offers. I too have not always found some of the BnB picks out there not up to scratch. It is refreshing to find a company that does this.

    1. This one looks like a worthy alternative to Airbnb, unfortunately, is likely to take a while to start being useful in Latam, hopefully, it works in Europe and then crosses the pond over here. Very useful information, thanks!!!

  22. The comparison between plum guide and AirBnB on trust pilot made me laugh out loud – if that’s not loud and clear, I don’t know what is. I actually never liked AirBnB for the destruction of the housing market in cities where people have it difficult enough to find affordable housing. Actually, I like both – sometimes I prefer a full service hotel and sometimes I prefer my personal freedom and rent an apartment or studio.

  23. I am off to San Francisco next week. Your post could not have been better timed. I wonder whether there is any Plum Guide accommodation in that area. Kind of bored of Airbnb.

  24. Oooh thanks for this! had not heard of Plum Guide (and we have not had the best experiences with AirBnB, so it is good to hear about an option with fab properties that are actually vetted!) Super useful!

  25. Now you surprised me because I hadn’t heard of Plum Guide before! Great article. I travel a lot and book accommodation frequently. So far, usually via booking or Airbnb, I am now trying Plum Guide. Mainly as you write, the key is quality because I was disappointed several times using Airbnb. Great to know that the locations are in the UK and Paris, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal. As I would love to visit Portugal soon.

    1. Fantastic, I’m so happy to introduce you to a new choice other than booking dot com and Airbnb. I’m sure you’ll love some of the places that Portugal has to offer.

  26. I am definitely going to have to look at Plum Guide. We too have become disillusioned with Airbnb over our past few stays. And you know we do like a touch of luxury! Great to know they use such a long criteria list to pick properties. I will keep this in mind for fall travel planning.

  27. Quality over quantity, I love that! Yes, I love Airbnb but it’s definitely tedious to search through so many properties and I’ve had it happen to me more than once that I arrived and the place was nothing compared to the expectations. I’m glad I can now find a curated list with only the best = saves time and disappointment!

  28. I haven’t heard of Plum Guide but you really did the research and shared some great insights! I can see why it’s a better option than Airbnb. I have always been put off by the fees and negative reviews so it’s nice that there’s other options like this. I’ll definitely be considering it after reading about your experience.

  29. I have to admit this is the first time I have heard about Plum Guide. The accomdation options look great, also a bit pricey. However I can see that this is a perfect alternative for people who want to spend a bit more and get much more in return.

  30. I am a huge Airbnb fan because I like the unique qualities the stays offer rather than standard hotels. I haven’t heard of Plum Guide before. I can’t wait to check it out.

  31. The adverse comments re Airbnb have always put me off using them. Even well-known bloggers have put negative reviews about accommodation they booked via airbnb. This Plum Guide organization sounds much better and a quick perusal on their site shows that the accommodation is of a much higher quality and style. However I would rather use this site and maybe pay a bit extra and know that I will get a fabulous place and service. Many of the houses/flats look exactly like what would chose for comfort and atmosphere. I’ll certainly be keeping them n mind when I look at booking an apartment rather than a hotel room.

  32. I think Plum Guide is exactly like how you put it – it’s a luxury home expierence and you know you’re getting a well vetted and high quality experience. As someone who has had a big range of experiences with Airbnb, this could be a really great up and coming alternative for those with a larger budget.

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