Airbnb Is Overhauling Its Search Engine. Here’s How It’ll Help You
The company hopes the move will alleviate areas burdened by overcrowding by drawing attention to under-the-radar destinations.
Airbnb rolled out changes to its site this month that are set to overhaul the way prospective guests search for and arrange stays.
Principal among the company’s changes is a transformation of its search tools to now include dozens of unique home categories comprising more than 4 million homes around the world. Now, prospective guests will be able to narrow down pages of search results by selecting 56 unique home styles, such as A-frames, farms, earth homes, caves, castles, domes, treehouses, and more.
“The way people travel has changed forever. That’s why we’re introducing the biggest change to Airbnb in a decade,” Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, said in a release. “People are more flexible about where they live and work, so we’ve designed a new way to search with Airbnb Categories.”
The company also announced it was adding a new feature that protects guest bookings and check-ins, as well as a new option that allows guests to split trips between two homes.
Opening Airbnb now yields an interface that breaks down accommodations based on home style, location, and even accessibility to activities—for example, beach homes near surfing destinations.
The newly organized network of homes is one that the company hopes will alleviate areas burdened by overcrowding by drawing attention to destinations that, until now, may have flown under the radar.
We took the new search tool for a spin, using a few of our favorite outdoor-immersive categories—earth homes, yurts, A-frames, and treehouses—and threw a list together of a few of our favorites that, without the new site, we may have missed.
Wildland Retreats, California
A classic 1966 A-frame, the Wildland Clarity Cabin in Idyllwild plunges guests into an oasis of woodland views that melt stresses away. Meditate using the cabin’s myriad mindfulness amenities, pour a cozy cup of locally-sourced coffee, and unwind to a crackling wood stove or a private outdoor deck.
Little Red A-Frame, Colorado
Just 12 miles from Breckenridge is this authentic 1970s A-frame cabin offering no shortage of access to world-class skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and dining. Dip your toes into the on-property creek, take in 360-degree views, and make yourself at home in the cabin’s full kitchen, bathroom, living room, master bedroom, and loft. Did we mention the views?
Röra Haus, Idaho
Another example of how underrated Idaho is. Röra Haus is a modern—and luxurious—A-frame nestled in stunning forest land in Idaho’s scenic Garden Valley. Outdoor recreation is right outside your door, or, if you prefer relaxation, unwind in either of the property bedrooms, dive into the house’s collection of books and board games, or kick your feet up on one of two patios while watching for wildlife or admiring a starlit canopy.
The Hohnstead, Montana
On the smaller side, this A-frame 20 minutes east of Missoula is easily one of our favorites. The off-grid cabin features a garage door-style side panel that raises to expose its interior accommodations to the outside world. The goal is natural immersion, and there’s plenty of it here. Shared facilities include a solar outdoor shower, hammocks, a hot tub, kitchen, and more. If you’re looking for a quaint escape in the Montana wild, look no further.
Deschutes A-Frame, Oregon
Near the city of Bend in Deschutes National Forest, this property is in close proximity to all the activities an outdoors paradise like Bend affords. The two-bedroom, two-bath cabin is nestled in over 1 acre of pine, and features a hot tub, full kitchen, high-speed internet, a wood pellet fireplace, down comforters and pillows, board games, and more. Whether visiting Smith Rock State Park or Crater Lake National Park, this basecamp is more than worthy.
Experience Hogan By the River, Arizona
A true off-the-grid, minimalist experience, this one-room hogan in a secluded part of Navajo Nation allows for all the outdoor immersion one could hope for. The Grand Canyon is just 30 miles west of the property, which is on the family homestead of the owner’s ancestral sheep camp. Be ready to unplug, unwind, and admire scintillating skies before calling it a night in this cozy hut.
Bonita Domes, California
A truly otherworldly design you have to see to believe, Bonita Domes in Joshua Tree—modeled using the Cal-Earth Superadobe technique—offer suites with sleeping pods, a full bathroom, and a kitchen. An onsite pool, spa, and fire pit provide guests with shared spaces to unwind, and recreational opportunities are readily available at the national park just five minutes away.
Encounter Earthship, New Mexico
An earth home subdivision in Taos that’s truly one of a kind, this spot features numerous “Earthships” designed as sustainable accommodations that interact naturally with the environment. Earthship properties grow onsite vegetation, store rainwater, and use solar power for electrical amenities, offering a rare combination of off-grid living and the comforts of a conventional house. Views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains aren’t too shabby, either.
Bainbridge Island Hobbit House, Washington
Tolkien fans have a hard time passing up themed accommodations—I’m one of them—and this hand-built hobbit hole west of Seattle is the sort of cozy accommodation that inspires no shortage of wholesome nerddom. Unwind with a book by an electric fireplace while enjoying a cup of tea or coffee, or wander the property, where a fire pit (and s’mores sticks) and a charcoal barbecue beckon. This is truly “a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
Becka’s Beehive, West Texas
It’s just a one-person accommodation, but this tiny structure oozes comfort. Made by an architecture student out of recycled car parts, sand bags, and even cooking utensils, the Beehive is the definition of upcycled. Amenities are communal, but the hive does come with an electrical outlet and light in the shelter. If you’re looking for a memorable stay, you can’t go wrong with your very own 7×5 cocoon.
Owl’s Perch Treehouse, British Columbia
In a world of large cedar and giant maple is a perch that provides guests with all the sights and smells the Pacific Northwest is known for. The house yields stunning views of the nearby Salish Sea and mountain ranges in Washington, and features a full bathroom, kitchenette, and electricity. A large deck surrounding the house, which is set 30 feet off the ground, allows for plenty of privacy while you tune out the outside world.
Elk Forest Retreat, California
Just miles from the Pacific and nestled in a sea of Redwoods is an epitome of Northern California relaxation. The treehouse at Elk Forest Retreat is a place to unplug (there’s no cell service or wifi) and refresh. Towns are nearby—Mendocino and Elk Town—so amenities are never out of reach. And between the forest and ocean, recreation options are everywhere.
Crystal Peak Lookout, Idaho
Originally built in 1959 as a fire lookout in Washington, this repurposed, rejuvenated tree house now sits in northern Idaho surrounded by 13 acres of dense forest. A wood stove and decor that exudes hygge will leave you feeling like you may never want to leave. But if you do decide to venture out, bird watching, stargazing, hiking, huckleberry picking, and even relaxing in a wood-fired sauna are just steps away.
Meadowlark Treehouse, Montana
Those looking to explore Glacier National Park should consider this property less than 30 minutes from its gate. On 5 wooded acres near Columbia Falls, this 500-square-foot living space features two decks, a full kitchen and bathroom, dishwasher, stove, and more. The house is built around two living trees that grow through the treehouse interior, one of which stands next to the master suite’s queen bed (and Tempur-pedic mattress). Count us in.
Klickitat Treehouse, Washington
Thanks to its skylights and 18-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, this modern, Scandinavian-inspired structure never feels closed off from its natural surroundings. Visitors to this property on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge will enjoy all the amenities of a modern accommodation alongside views of Douglas firs and Mount Adams. If you’re visiting Portland and want to get off the beaten path, this 15-acre haven is ready to accommodate.
Mount Shasta Retreat Center, California
It’s always surprising how spacious yurts can be, and this variation is no exception. Set on 10 acres of oak and cedar with beautiful views in every direction, the primitive accommodation offers a cozy, private escape from the hustle of everyday life. Communal bathrooms and showers are available, and guests are encouraged to enjoy access to a healing creek and chakra meditation area.
Northern Montana Yurt, Montana
You don’t see many yurts featuring a loft, but this isn’t your traditional yurt. Located about an hour northwest of Missoula, this Montana getaway is constructed with a mix of metal and wood to form a cozy cabin at the center of outdoor adventure. One queen bed on the main floor, a king in the loft, and a queen air mattress provide plenty of sleeping space, while a full bathroom, vintage oven, and electricity allow for any modern luxuries.
Mount Logan EcoLodge, Yukon
Enjoy yurt glamping surrounded by the stunning scenery of Kluane National Park in the heart of Klondike Gold Rush territory. Outside of the yurt’s cozy confines—I stayed there when it was -15 degrees and remained toasty—guests have access to 360-degree views, as well as the property’s lodge, which has wifi, bathrooms, and better yet, a delicious, home-cooked breakfast by spectacular hosts eager to chat.
Otter Rock Surf Yurt, Oregon
The property overlooks the state’s famed Devil’s Punchbowl beach and is just a short walk to the ocean, numerous dining options, and more. It comes equipped with a full kitchen, bathroom and shower, WiFi, and outdoor shower. If you’re eager to get in some great surf, this is the place for you.
East Zion Resort, Utah
Avoid crowded campgrounds in southwestern Utah at the spacious East Zion Resort. Nestled in Utah’s red rock landscapes between Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, these Cliff Dwelling Yurts are designed with rustic touches without sacrificing modern amenities. Each yurt comes with a private bathroom, kitchenette, propane fire pit, gas grill, outdoor seating area, and more views than you can fathom.