In large part due to the AirBnB platform, which connects hosts and guests for a booking fee, short-term apartment rentals have become a popular alternative to hotels or hostels. Among the companies hoping to capitalize on this burgeoning industry is Onefinestay, which began offering stays in high-end private apartments in London in 2010, before expanding its service to New York and, now, Paris and Los Angeles.
The website offers Parisian apartments in some of the city's best-known neighborhoods, highlighting the possibility for visitors to "live like a local." Tourists planning a trip to the French capital can stay in the legendary Saint-Germain-des-Prés district for â‚¬262 per night (around $350), book a five-room apartment in Batignolles from â‚¬136 per night (around $185) or even reserve a private room in a chic Montmartre home from â‚¬145 per night (around $195).
Onefinestay's accommodations in Los Angeles are generally pricier, but also more spacious. Travelers can reserve a "palatial" five-bedroom house on the mythical Mulholland Drive in Bel Air for $1,619 per night, or a three-bedroom home in Hollywood Hills for $900 per night.
Positioning its service as a high-end one, Onefinestay.com offers decidedly stylish accommodations and a quality of service to match that of a luxury hotel. Stepping in for the homeowners, Onefinestay sends its own representatives to greet guests and take care of the housekeeping. Guests are provided with bed and bath linens, toiletries from L'Occitane en Provence, Kusmi tea and Van Hoss & Sons coffee. In addition, the company ensures WiFi access and provides an iPhone, which has been pre-programmed with addresses recommended by the homeowner.
For the moment, Onefinestay.com's offer includes around 20 apartments in both Paris and Los Angeles.
Paris seems to be among the top cities attracting tourists in search of an "authentic" travel experience. The website Trocmaison.com, which offers a service similar to that of AirBnB, notes that the French capital was its most popular destination between 2012 and 2013, recording more stays than New York or London. According to a study published by AirBnB last June, 93 percent of travelers who booked an apartment through the site cited a desire to "live like Parisians" among their motivations.