Updated: February 2023
To many travelers worldwide, AirBnB has always been the most reliable source of finding affordable rentals. However, Japanese authorities recently announced news that can change the game for good. Among other things, the Minpaku Law, declares that hosts will only be able to rent their properties for 180 days per year. Due to this law, many AirBnB hosts are now moving on from the industry, as they are forced to leave a large chuck of their previous earnings on the table.
If you planned on visiting Japan in the near future, this news will certainly affect you, but is there a way to replace AirBnB with some other decent option? Read the article below and find out!
Covering 223 countries around the world, Booking is a definite close rival to Airbnb. While the number of available properties is generally similar between the two platforms, there are still some major differences that might sway you one way or the other.
For example, Booking offers a pretty flexible cancelation policy, which is especially appealing to individuals who frequently change their travel plans on the go. Booking is also a great choice for those looking to book rental cars upon reaching their destination.
While these are some great options to have, the constant redirecting from one page to another partner website may seem confusing to some people. The prices tend to be a bit more expensive compared to those on Airbnb, but this also depends from one case to another. Ultimately, Booking and Airbnb are so popular that most passengers always compare prices between one another with each trip, before making the final decision.
If there is a website that can be compared to the two previously mentioned industry giants, it’s definitely VRBO. The major difference is that VRBO does not offer shared spaces, being that they specialize in offers for the entire family.
Most of their listed properties also offer additional interesting features for all members of the family, with most properties being pet friendly as well. When it comes to their price range, they tend to offer something for everyone, but if you’re looking for larger properties, know that this usually comes with a price. If you are looking for a getaway with your family members, VRBO is a great place to start your search.
Finding accommodation in big cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto should be easy, as these large places usually offer plenty of options for all travelers. However, if you are trying your best to stick to a certain budget, or you simply demand the ultimate levels of comfort, your best choice might be to look away from the common platforms, such as Airbnb.
Sakura House is one of the oldest house management companies, offering accommodation services ever since 1992. You can choose between guest houses, private rooms or entire apartments, with a total of 1000 objects to satisfy your needs. If you want to start looking for Airbnb alternatives, it might be best to first look at companies whose tradition stands as a testament to their quality. Because of that, Sakura Home can be a tremendous starting point.
Home to go
Working on similar principles as other major platforms, such as Airbnb and Booking, home to go deserves a mention on this list as a viable alternative. With millions of properties around the world, this website has something to offer to all travelers, regardless of their desired budget.
For those in need of a vacation rental in Japan, it’s important to mention that home to go covers almost every popular tourist destination around the country, as well as offers some destinations that will allow you to experience the local customs, far away from the noise metropolises. The prices also range anywhere from $15 a night, to luxurious resorts that charge more than $1000 per stay. As far as user interface and usability go, the home to go website is one of the best in the business, with all the vital information available one click away. Make sure to check out some of their deals ahead of your trip, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of options available.
Whether you are searching for a vacation rental, hotel, or you’re even trying to book a flight, holiday homes is a website that covers all of those needs. This website works by combining results from multiple different sites, thus creating a rich portfolio of available offers.
Upon finding an ideal offer, all you have to do is follow the link that will direct you to one of their partner websites, where you’ll be able to complete the deal. While holiday homes is a tremendous option that offers thousands of locations all over Japan, have in mind the fact that they are mediators between travelers and websites that offer accommodation services. Therefore, they do not guarantee the truthfulness of all information displayed, which can at times lead to additional costs.
In typical Japanese fashion, let’s start off with something you probably won’t see anywhere else in the world. Capsule Hotels are pretty basic in regards to accommodation and luxury, but they are definitely on the cheaper side. Still, if you’re just looking for a place to crash, traveling solo, and aren’t claustrophobic, this can provide you with a decent alternative. Most hotels of this kind accept booking, as well as walk-ins. In my opinion, capsule hotels are a great last resort, but also can be quite attractive to younger individuals looking to experience something new on their travel.
From the bare necessities to luxury. All joking aside, but Japan has a plethora of business hotels that offer great service. Perhaps the best thing about it them is the prices, which usually range from $50-$150 per room, depending on the level of accommodation you choose. Compared to regular hotels, these business options tend to be quite cheaper. Another bonus is the location. Business hotels are usually located near busy airports or train stations, so you won’t have trouble with finding them. The only negative is the room sizes, which tend to be on the smaller side, but that’s not always the case. If you pick carefully, you might be surprised with how much you can get for your buck.
In case AirBnB got you used to using apps to find a place to stay, Stay Japan may be a quality alternative. This domestic website is entirely legal, and every apartment you find here has been registered. For now, there are already over 2,000 apartments currently available for rent, but that number will probably be much higher, as most home owners will probably be forced to migrate here from AirBnB. Unfortunately for us, compared to AirBnB, Stay Japan apartments tend to be a bit more expensive, but let’s hope that the competition will drive the prices down in the future. That being said, in case you’re traveling in a small group, this website offers some great properties where you’ll be able to rest and recuperate from your long journey. Be sure to check it out.
While hostels have quite a negative reputation worldwide, in Japan, the situation is a lot different. Japanese hostels are very clean, they have many private rooms, and they oftentimes sport a modern design. Naturally, the biggest advantage of hostels is the low price of stay, and that much remains true here as well. Many hostels also go one step above the competition, organizing fun free events for their customers, such as karaoke or informal dinners. This can be especially cool if you’re a digital nomad traveling solo, as it will give you an opportunity to meet new friends. With that in mind, you can get much more than what you originally paid for.
I’ve never been to these places myself, but I have some friends who tried it out. Much different to the U.S. internet café concept, in Japan, many of these places also offer beds to their customers. You might be surprised to find out, but there is quite a bit of young Japanese nomads who use these places as a last resort. It’s understandable that the privacy is basically non-existent here, but if you find yourself with nowhere else to go, know that this option might be available as well.
Agoda is a platform focusing mostly on Asian countries, which of course means that you should check it out if you plan to go to Japan anytime soon, as you’re bound to run into some properties not found anywhere else. The filters are similar to most other previously mentioned websites though, so you can sort the properties by user ratings, your preferred location or by the property type.
Properties range from vacation homes to homestays and apartments. Also, the price range is quite large, so you can choose from more modest places to stay, but also find luxurious homes in exclusive locations. Most important of all, the website is simple to use, the user experience is good, and there is a plethora of rentals to choose from. That makes Agoda Homes a valuable option to consider.
While the name might not induce a lot of confidence, love hotels can be a decent alternative when other housing options are not enough. Most of them accept walk-ins, so even if you happen to get yourself in a jam, you can always find a place to rest up with love hotels.
For travelers who are above the legal age of 18, love hotels can be a last resort, even if you’re just looking for a place to stay. These hotels are located throughout Japan, but it’s fair to say that most of them can be found in Tokyo, where large groups of tourists cross paths on a daily basis.
Founded by Trip Advisor, Flipkey was an ideal solution to benefit from the vast pool of reviews that can be found on its parent company. If you love to travel with a large group of friends, or you have a big family, Flipkey is a good place to start searching for accommodation in Japan.
While it might not have as many offerings as some other platforms, most of the properties will easily house 5 or more people, which can’t be understated. These places might lack the luxury of some other world-famous hotels, but if you’re traveling with so many people, we’re pretty sure you’ll be able to find fun elsewhere.
Rakuten LIFULL Stay
Founded as a result of the collaboration between Rakuten and LIFULL, this platform is now a worthy rival to sites like Booking and Airbnb, especially in Japan. The founders realized that the pandemic did not prevent people from traveling, but actually motivated them to search for long-term accommodation options, which lasted for up to a couple of months at a time.
As those options were difficult to come across on most other platforms, people behind Rakuten LIFULL STAY decided to focus on those offers. Furthermore, they claim that the market is now moving further away from apartments and inclining toward private homes, which can be found on this platform in large numbers.
Much like the platform mentioned above, Homestay also focuses on people who want to rent houses. However, they decided to go one step further. On most other platforms, hosts are in charge of keeping the place neat and tidy, but you will not even get a chance to meet them most of the time. When it comes to Homestay, the host is in charge of introducing the guests to all amenities the city has to offer.
For instance, clients can always get in touch with a host through the app, in case they have any questions or simply if they want any recommendations regarding places to visit or authentic restaurants to dine in. With more than 30,000 available properties, it surely seems that this business model is working out for them.
It was strange for many just how long Trip Advisor was able to survive as a platform that relies solely on user reviews. However, some time ago they decided to broaden their offer. We previously mentioned Flipkey as their idea to brand out, but it’s also worth noting that they now sport a dedicated section on their website, intended for vacation rentals.
Even in that relatively short time, they were able to amass a huge number of available offerings in most countries around the world. We’re pretty sure that user reviews play a huge role in their overall success, so kudos to them for making the most out of their situation.