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Airbnb caters to the super rich with Airbnb Luxe

The home rental company is drifting further and further from its origin story of blow-up mattresses on living room floors.


This gated mansion for rent on Airbnb Luxe has nine bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, a pool and a hotub.


Airbnb added a new tier of home rentals to its website on Tuesday called Airbnb Luxe. These rentals include "award-winning homes" that come with "trip designers," concierge services and 24/7 VIP support. Oh, and you basically need to be a one-percenter to book one of these places.

Among the offerings are an entire private island in French Polynesia, castles in France, a mansion in Bel Air and even a villa in Jamaica where the author Ian Fleming is said to have written his spy novels.

"Today's luxury traveler is craving more than just high-end accommodations," Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement. "They seek transformation and experiences that leave them feeling more connected to each other and to their destination."

Don't expect to pay less than $1,000 per night for that connection.

Airbnb Luxe is a far cry from the company's origin story, which involves Chesky and his co-founder Joe Gebbia trying to make a quick buck in 2007 by renting out blow-up mattresses laid out across their living room in San Francisco. While it's probably still possible to find an airbed for rent on Airbnb, the company has steadily become more exclusive and elite.

In 2017, Airbnb bought the upscale vacation rental site Luxury Retreats for $300 million and began integrating those homes into its site. And in 2018, Airbnb added two other high-end rental tiers called Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb. The company has also partnered with real estate magnates to rent out luxury suites in apartment buildings in New York City and San Francisco. 

Hotels also have luxury options. The most expensive hotel room in the world is in the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas and costs $100,000 per night, according to CNBC. And data crunched by the Asher & Lyric travel blog shows the average price for 5-star hotels in touristy cities in 2018 typically ranged between $1,000 and $2,000 per night.

Airbnb Luxe is launching with more than 2,000 "handpicked" homes that each go through a strict evaluation process. That process, the company said, includes more than 300 criteria to meet standards in design and function, including premium materials and finishes, rare features, chef-grade appliances and "the proper amount of bathrooms corresponding to each bedroom." 

All Airbnb Luxe travelers will get "dedicated trip designers to arrange bespoke experiences and services to make every stay truly magical," Airbnb said. These "highly trained" designers will tailor each trip to meet the travelers' needs, such as coordinating private chefs, in-house massage therapists and personal trainers in private gyms.

While some Luxe rentals may go for $1,000 per night, others can be as much as $150,000 nightly. The massage therapists, butlers, chefs and housekeeping will usually be tallied up as add-ons to that fee.

Airbnb said its Luxe tier is "part of our continued effort to ensure Airbnb is for everyone."

Everyone who has that kind of money to spend, that is.