The i-escape blog / Beautiful apartments you won't find on Airbnb / Jake Hamilton portrait

By Jake Hamilton

Amazing apartments (no Airbnb)

This month marks the 10th anniversary since Airbnb was founded. Talk about success: 3 million listings in over 190 countries. But there’s just one problem:

People aren’t happy.

Airbnb is facing a global backlash from homeowners, customers and local communities.  So why not create an alternative to Airbnb?

Listed below are 9 of the most beautiful apartments in Europe that you won’t find on Airbnb. All have luxury interiors and sensible prices. 

And the best part? No service fees.


Funky apartments in Berlin

The i-escape blog / Beautiful apartments you won't find on Airbnb / Berlin Boutique Apartments

These amazing self-catering apartments in vibrant Prenzlauer Berg — one of Berlin’s coolest districts — will make you feel like a true Berliner. The super-friendly owner, Simon, has designed each pad with individual retro-stylish flourishes and vintage statement pieces. Every one’s a winner.

So why no signage out front?

Because guests want to feel part of the community. Also, the incredible prices, helpful staff and unbeatable location allow these apartments to soar above the Airbnb radar. Truly unique.

Treats: A bottle of sparkling wine on arrival

Price: From £88 per night

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Sleek apartments in Lisbon

The i-escape blog / Beautiful apartments you won't find on Airbnb / Baixa House

Here’s a secret worth sharing. These super-chic apartments (sleeping 1-7) bang in the heart of Lisbon are the perfect remedy to cookie-cutter rentals. Owner Jesus spent years meticulously restoring 13 unique apartments (9 aren’t listed on Airbnb) inside a striking 18th-century building, Baixa House. The results are breathtaking: spacious rooms with ultra-cool furnishings, fabulous kitchens and squeaky-clean bathrooms.

Everything you need for short or long stays.

When you’re done ogling the Josef Frank wallpaper, head downstairs where cafes, bars and boutiques await. Or hop on the legendary Number 29 tram (it rattles past your doorstep) and explore the best of Lisbon – historic Alfama, epic Rossio Square and Castelo São Jorge.

Treats: Fresh bread, free breakfasts, daily cleaning

Price: From £129 per night

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Cool apartments in Rome

The i-escape blog / Beautiful apartments you won't find on Airbnb / CasaCau

Fancy a Roman holiday? These 6 boho apartments hidden down a pretty cobblestone strada are the real deal. We’re talking a magnifico location – just a coin’s throw from the Trevi Fountain – matched with bellissimo interiors.

Swoon at the sumptuous beds, sleek kitchenettes stocked with Prosecco and chocolates, retro-chic furniture and spoiling bathrooms (some with saunas!) — all housed in a 16th-century palazzo in the heart of the Eternal City.

How’s that for Italian style?

The cleaning is done for you, leaving you ample time to explore Rome’s iconic attractions – St Peter’s, the Colosseum and the Pantheon.

Treats: Fresh breakfast goodies delivered to your door

Price: From £221 per night

i-escape offers: 30% last-minute discount (3-night minimum), 20% midweek discount (Sunday-Thursday)

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A villa with pool in Croatia

The i-escape blog / Beautiful apartments you won't find on Airbnb / Villa Sancta Maria

This swoonworthy 6-bedroom villa with gardens and a pool could be the beginning of your love affair with the real Croatia. Set on a hillside in peaceful Istria, the converted farmhouse sleeps up to 14 – perfect for families or large gatherings.

The only problem?

How to enjoy the wealth of facilities! Laze by the turquoise pool, pick your own vegetables in the garden, play on the sports pitch, visit the nearby villages (sample their heavenly olive oil!), chill on the sun terrace with a cold G&T, or prepare a feast in the epic kitchen and dine outside beneath the stars.

Treats: A bottle of wine on arrival

Price: From £249 per night from 2 Sept

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Elegant rentals in Barcelona

The i-escape blog / Beautiful apartments you won't find on Airbnb / The 5 Rooms

These gorgeous rentals for 2-4, set a few doors down from their B&B sister, are a classy example of Barcelona cool.

Friendly owner Yessica, who previously worked in fashion, has created 2 pads with fabulously chic interiors. Each has high ceilings, large windows, galley kitchens and a terrace for morning coffee.

As for the beds, what can we say?

The best sleep we’ve had in years, leaving you refreshed to explore the historic surroundings. Stroll down Las Ramblas, visit the Picasso Museum, or gaze in awe upon Gaudi’s astonishing (and still unfinished) Sagrada Familia: all 20 minutes or less from your door.

Treats: Free continental breakfast

Price: From £162 per night

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Stylish apartments in Venice

The i-escape blog / Beautiful apartments you won't find on Airbnb / Venice Boutique Apartments

Planning on making a grand gesture? These 3 self-catering apartments (sleeping 2-7) in a historic waterfront palazzo facing the Grand Canal are all the grandeur you need.

Word of warning: this is a serious splurge. Fabulous terrazzo interiors filled with unique antiques from the owner’s private collection, each apartment has an elegant master bedroom (plus a second double/twin), a splendid kitchen, and 2 bathrooms.

You’re 2 minutes’ walk from must-see San Marco Piazza, then cross the iconic Ponte dell’Accademia and catch your breath as the Floating City unfolds before your eyes.

Treats: A welcome hamper and pre-mixed Bellinis

Price: From £430 per night

i-escape offer: 10% discount (14+ nights)

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Amazing homes in Provence

The i-escape blog / Amazing apartments you won't find on Airbnb / Le Mas des Oules

We love this dreamy farmhouse conversion in sun-kissed Provence. Housing a cluster of 2-to-5-bedroom houses and apartments, the entire property is a picturesque marvel, with a courtyard, a pool, wisteria-covered terraces, lavender-scented gardens and views of the Cévennes hills.

Welcome to Instagram heaven.

Each rental is ultra-spacious with stylish features (Madam Stoltz tables, Bloomingville sofas), but it’s the loving details provided by fabulous host Christophe that will make your stay unforgettable.

Treats: A bottle of wine on arrival

Price: From £127 per night from 2 Sept

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Sleek apartments in Bristol

The i-escape blog / Beautiful apartments you won't find on Airbnb / Berkeley Suites

The perfect city escape (outside London), these 5 self-catering suites in a handsome Georgian townhouse provide luxury at budget prices. Each occupies an entire floor and boasts marble fireplaces, bespoke furniture and truly madly comfy beds, plus nifty kitchenettes and spotless bathrooms.

But wait, there’s more.

How about your very own cinema projector? That’s evening sorted! Remember to visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and explore the classy bars and restaurants on your Park Street doorstep.

Treats: A decanter of Bristol cream sherry, plus nibbles

Price: From £95 per night

i-escape offer: 4 nights for 3

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Designer lofts in Florence

The i-escape blog / Amazing apartments you won't find on Airbnb / Riva Lofts

Once a warren of riverside workshops, now a cool urban retreat, these 10 ultra-modern apartments were created by revered Italian architect Claudio Nardi. Varying in size (studios, suites and lofts), each rental provides sharp interiors, huge beds, slick bathrooms and signature pieces like Mies van der Rohe chairs.

There’s also a garden, a lap pool, a lounge and bar, plus hammocks for snoozing.

Alice, Nardi’s glamorous daughter, can provide you with complimentary bikes to explore the cycle path into town – where god-like works of art await at the Duomo and Uffizi Gallery. For shoe obsessives, waltz over to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum at Piazza di Santa Trinita.

Treats: A bottle of Tuscan wine or La Molina chocolates

Prices: From £134 per night

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See our full collection: 19 secret European apartments you won’t find on Airbnb

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