When we first heard about Onefinestay, a company people are calling “Airbnb for luxury homes,” we developed a major crush. Based in London, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles, the company curates some of the most beautiful, thoughtfully designed homes in each market and makes them available to travelers, along with hospitality services you’d receive at a hotel. It allows guests to feel at home yet inspired by a new surrounding—and taken care of. And it’s pretty much the only way we want to travel anymore.
We’ve stayed in a few and enjoyed all the perks—a helpful booking agent, a welcome greeter, WiFi and an iPhone to use, fresh linens, and top-notch cleaning, to name a few. But in our most recent stay, in this bohemian bungalow in Venice Beach (which we used to shoot some exciting videos you’ll see soon!), we found ourselves wondering… Who are the homeowners? What’s their story? And how can we become hosts, too?
We spoke with Evan Frank, Co-Founder and Vice President Americas of Onefinestay, to learn more about what it’s like to be a host. Read on for our interview.
MYDOMAINE: Tell me about the homeowners of this Venice home. What’s their story?
EVAN FRANK: The homeowners are an artistic couple who have curated their home with collections of artifacts from their international travels. He composes music for films while she works with indigenous artists from around the world. They both have a deep passion for design and home décor, so much so that they spend much of their free time renovating, restoring, and redesigning. They travel fairly regularly for both leisure and work but love coming back to their L.A. home, which they've worked on over the years to really make it their own. It’s a labor of love, as they call it, and they are so happy to be sharing it.
MD: What do you look for in a Onefinestay home, in terms of both style and size: any other attributes?
EF: Our homes range from Brooklyn brownstones to Notting Hill mews houses; we love them all and all for different reasons! Each one is exclusively available with Onefinestay, and what they have in common is charm and character, a great location, and fit with our guest standards. Basically, would a guest love to stay here? Would this home work for a family, a couple, or someone here for work? We also ask homeowners for at least four weeks per year.
MD: What changes are made to a host’s home while he or she is away?
EF: We photograph each home ourselves and document all the info about amenities and even the little quirks—that means we can answer any guest queries that might arise while the owner is away.
MD: And what is required of a Onefinestay host?
EF: From this point onward, the only thing our members need to do is update their home’s availability according to their plans. We manage all inquiries and bookings, from the start of a guest’s research right up until the end of a stay. We prepare everything for the guests’ arrival, including cleaning, putting things away, making the beds, and stocking the bathrooms with our towels and toiletries. And we’re on call 24/7. After the guest leaves, our team returns everything to its rightful place and cleans the home again!
MD: Aside from earning some extra cash, what are the perks or privileges of being a Onefinestay host? Do they have access to anything that guests don’t?
EF: Yes—we have local events in each of our cities, so from arts exhibits to dinners to cooking classes, homeowners really join the Onefinestay local community. In some cases, we also tailor our services to the local needs, like in New York, where we’ve just launched a new service for townhouses. We know that taking care of a multi-story townhouse can be hard work, so townhouse owners have a personal home manager and bespoke maintenance services to help with whatever they or their homes need.
Our homeowners love the unique hospitality service we provide for our guests, so much so that a lot of them want to try it for themselves, taking advantage of the unique 30% discount for Onefinestay homes!
MD: What percentage of the rental cost does a host earn?
EF: The nightly rate that a host receives is typically comparable to the long-term rental value of a home, which is usually more than enough to cover any mortgage or, say, a holiday, a new kitchen, etc.
MD: Do hosts engage or communicate with guests at all? What measures does Onefinestay take to make sure that the house is safe?
EF: As Onefinestay manages bookings, guests, and hosts never have to talk or meet—which we always hear is one of the big advantages! Security and privacy are foundational to our business, and we’ve put a great deal of thought into how we deliver our service. For example, we confirm guests’ identities on booking, meet them in person on arrival, and pre-authorize a deposit on their card. When our team prepares the home, we even use tamper tape seals to indicate clearly to guests areas of the home that are out of bounds. We also have a unique insurance policy with extensive coverage, although we find that our guests really do abide by our honor code, treating the home as they would their own.
MD: What happens if something goes wrong—say there’s a leak in the roof—while a host is away?
EF: In each city we operate in, we have a local team on the ground, which is available 24/7 for both our guests and our hosts. So when things go wrong, we are always just a call away.
Interested in becoming a host yourself? Visit Onefinestay to register.
What you ever rented out your home to travelers? Would you consider it?