What You Need to Know About Vacation Rentals

by Jimmy Im

Vacation rentals have been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the 2010s when major booking platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo hit a stride connecting travelers to amazing properties across the globe.

Williamsburg, Virginia, which made headlines in August 2021 for creating gay and transgender reenactments in Colonial Williamsburg, piecing together a more complete history of LGBT people in colonial times, is home to Kingsmill Resort (www.kingsmill.com), a historic, AAA-Four Diamond property known for its beautiful cottages on the James River. The five cottages are a serious upgrade from the guest rooms, and travelers have access to all resort amenities, including the spa/fitness center, tennis club, and restaurants. 

Master Bedroom at Kingsmill Cottage

Master Bedroom at Kingsmill Cottage

Guests may also find a hotel with “home away from home” options in a major city. In Washington D.C., Rosewood Hotels (www.rosewoodhotels.com/washington-dc) debuted six streetfront townhouses just outside the hotel In December 2020. Guests who love Rosewood service and amenities, but don’t necessarily want to stay in a hotel room, now have the option to book a “residence” and stay in D.C. like a local. 

Exclusive Vacation Rental Booking Tips 

Finding the perfect rental takes time and effort, and a secret to booking is in the comments section. You can learn so much about a property by reading guests’ reviews found on the accommodations’ webpage, what you need to know about vacation rentals Master Bedroom at Kingsmill Cottage whether a homestay platform like Vrbo or a hotel website like Marriott. It’s always a good sign when a property has high marks, including a consistent 5-star rating. I always read the comments when considering a rental. If a past guest made a mild complaint (such as a broken microwave or trouble with the heat), you can see how (and if) the host responded, which is a great reflection of who’s hosting you and how they care for guests, not only during the stay, but afterward. 

If you’re new to booking a vacation rental, read and understand the cancellation policy, which is different than how most hotels operate. “Hosts set their own cancellation policies and they vary,” says Kwong. “Many vacation homes on the Vrbo site and app offer flexible cancellation policies, the most relaxed of which allows guests to cancel and get a full refund up to 14 days before check-in.” 

Most well-known companies protect gay travelers. Airbnb operates an anti-discrimination policy that forbids users to refuse gay travelers, and VRBO has a strict commitment to diversity and inclusion. The platform has a full-time Trust & Safety team that monitors for discriminatory content on its marketplace, and anyone found to be violating its zero-tolerance policy regarding discrimination, harassment, or violence are removed from the platform.

Gay travelers have peace of mind booking with Marriott, the first major hotel company to offer equal benefits for same-sex domestic partners and spouses over 20 years ago. The brand has also publicly advocated for LGBTQ equality and nondiscrimination in Congress and in the courts and has longstanding partnerships with LGBTQ advocates and leaders including the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, The National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve earned a perfect score of 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for years because of our unyielding commitment to equality and inclusion for every guest we welcome,” says Hseih. “Homes & Villas by Marriott International exclusively works with select professional property management companies who we trust to deliver on the high product and service standards that guests expect of Marriott International. All our property management companies are extensively vetted for their business practices and commitment to quality before being admitted on to our platform.” 

Want to stick with exclusively LGBTQ-hosted properties? They exist. MisterB&B (www.misterbandb.com) is the largest LGBTQ booking platform with over a million listings across two countries, offering properties owned by gay hosts and highly vetted gay friendly properties. 

While I’ve booked vacation rentals on various platforms, I’ve always experienced the same result: an unforgettable, comfortable stay in a spacious, very private, and authentic “home away from home.” Below are my favorite vacation rentals in three unique destinations. 

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