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Saddleback Escape Plum Guide vacation rental
Plum Guide

Is a Plum Guide Vacation Rental Worth It?

SmarterTravel

Editor’s Note: The author was hosted by Plum Guide for her stay. 

If you’ve ever rented a house/apartment while on vacation, you’re likely familiar with the process. You open up 14 different tabs to compare all the different rental sites, daydream about all the beautiful homes, narrow down by price… and then quickly get overwhelmed by all the options and conflicting reviews. 

To streamline the vacation rental search, I decided to try out a stay with Plum Guide, a company that does vacation rentals in a completely different way from Airbnb or VRBO. 

Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them.

What is the Plum Guide?

Screenshot of the homepage of Plum Guide vacation rental website
Plum Guide

The Plum Guide launched in London in 2016 and has since expanded around the world. The homestay company curates a collection of vetted vacation rentals so that travelers have fewer (but better) choices to sift through. 

The site offers over 500,000 vacation rentals (including houses and apartments) in hundreds of destinations worldwide.

What Makes Plum Guide Vacation Rentals Different?

Every home listed on Plum Guide has gone through the company’s rigorous vetting process. Plum Guide sends Home Critics to each property to evaluate it using a more than 150 point test before it is allowed to be listed on the site. Critics evaluate everything from shower pressure to bedroom noise levels to determine if a property is Plum Guide-worthy. The test is so strict that only 3 percent of homes are selected to be listed on Plum Guide’s site. 

Plum Guide also stands out for the lack of reviews on their site. As every property is thoroughly vetted by professional critics, the company does not publish reviews from travelers (like every other vacation rental site). This can be really helpful, as it will save you from the frustrating and time-wasting process of combing through often conflicting reviews from previous renters. 

Want to streamline the vacation rental search process even further? Plum Guide offers a free concierge service that will connect you to an expert who will ask you a few questions and then help you pick the perfect property for your trip. The same concierge team is on standby 24/7 in case you have any issues with the property and your host is not available. 

What’s it Really Like to Stay in a Plum Guide Home?

Saddleback Escape Plum Guide vacation rental
Plum Guide

I’ve stayed in many vacation rentals booked through other sites that have fallen short of what I expected, and always feel that picking a property can be a gamble no matter how thoroughly I read the reviews or scour the pictures. From uncomfortable beds to light-leaking shades, vacation rentals aren’t always up to the standard of even a budget hotel.

I selected the Saddleback Escape property from Plum Guide for a Joshua Tree vacation. The town of Joshua Tree, California is in a fairly isolated desert location, so if I had wound up with a bad property, I wouldn’t have had many other hotel or rental options to fall back on.

By booking a Plum Guide vacation rental that had been pre-vetted, I was able to feel confident going into my stay that I would have a great experience. 

Plum Guide’s thorough listing detailed all the information I needed ahead of time, including any potential downsides of the home (so I would know that there might not be cell service at the house but that there would be great WiFi, for example).

The home itself was even better in-person, and was by far the nicest vacation rental I’ve ever stayed in. There were luxury amenities not normally found at vacation rentals—like a sauna shower, private outdoor hot tub, and a kitchen stocked with high-end appliances. 

Everything a guest could need was provided—like toiletries and coffee from local businesses.

The property was sparkling clean and well-maintained, with comfortable beds (no sagging mattresses here like you’ll find in many vacation rentals). Everything was exactly as pictured in the listing. 

When I travel, I like the high-standards of hotels (comfortable beds, nice amenities) but I prefer the space (kitchens and living areas) of vacation rentals. Plum Guide blends the best of both accommodation styles, by ensuring spacious vacation homes live up to traveler standards. Combined with the ease of booking a property (without spending hours combing through reviews), the Plum Guide experience sold me on booking through their site next time I need a vacation rental. 

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