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Airbnb's newest luxury project: 10 floors at NYC's Rockefeller Plaza

The home rental company partners with one of the city's largest real estate magnates to rent out high-end suites.

The view from the Top of the Rock observation deck.

The view from the Top of the Rock observation deck in Rockefeller Center.

Jeff Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images

Airbnb has come a long way since its origin story of offering travelers a blow-up mattress to sleep on. 

The home rental company announced Monday that it's partnering with RXR Realty, one of New York City's largest real estate owners, to convert 10 stories of an iconic Rockefeller Plaza building into Airbnb rentals. The rooms will be luxury suites at the top of 75 Rockefeller Plaza, which is a 32-story skyscraper. The company said travelers will get "unparalleled" views of Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Empire State Building.

"When we launched Airbnb over 10 years ago, it was immediately clear how people opening their homes could make guests feel like locals," Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement. "We hope to provide that same unique feeling, in the form of new spaces in the heart of Midtown Manhattan and elsewhere­­ so that everyone can enjoy an authentic New York experience."

San Francisco-based Airbnb has gone from being a website for couch surfers to having a massive online presence. It lists roughly 6 million homes for rent in more than 80,000 cities worldwide. The company, currently privately held, is valued at $31 billion. 

It's reportedly planning an initial public offering sometime this year. And after years of regulatory battles with cities including New York, New Orleans, San Francisco and Paris, the company needs to show investors it can grow. 

Airbnb is increasingly working with landlords on profit-sharing deals. Many landlords don't allow tenants to sublet their apartments on Airbnb because it typically comes with more risk and no profit for them. But that's changing. The company announced a partnership with a major landlord in Florida in October 2017, then it announced a similar deal with San Francisco's largest residential landlord the following month.

Airbnb has also progressively moved into the hotel business. First it started to quietly add boutique hotels to its listings, then last year it announced hotels would be one of four property types it offers on its site. Airbnb then acquired hotel booking site Hotel Tonight last month.

Airbnb's announcement comes as Marriott, one of the world's largest hotel chains, announced it was launching its own home rental business. Marriott didn't provide many details on its service, but did say it's catering to people who want more home amenities during their stays, such as kitchen and laundry facilities.

Airbnb and RXR said they plan to open their Rockefeller Plaza facility in about a year, which is still subject to various approvals. The two companies are also eyeing another building with 150 apartments in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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