Lifestyle

Airbnb rethinks search experience, starts guiding travelers to great neighborhoods

Community-powered hotel alternative Airbnb today launched a new feature called Neighborhoods to help travelers pick places to stay in communities best suited to their particular tastes and inclinations.

Airbnb is a four-year-old, heavily funded startup that makes a popular web and mobile service for listing your available spaces and booking everything from couches to castles. The company offers hotel room alternatives in more than 30,000 cities around the world.

Airbnb Neighborhoods went live Tuesday in seven different markets and aims to shake up the travel search status quo by highlighting the unique attributes of 300 local neighborhoods.

“Neighborhoods are the original communities. They are the keys to unlocking local culture and one-of-a-kind experiences,” Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said in a statement. “By going deeper and tapping into local knowledge, we are introducing our community to a neighborhood’s personality so they can match it with their own.”

The new service directs sojourners down a path of neighborhood exploration with guides that allow filtering by preference, and include maps, details on transportation options, editorial content, and tips from hosts in the areas.

Airbnb visitors interested in booking places to stay in Rio de Janeiro, New York, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Paris, and Washington D.C. will find that Neighborhoods, which has taken over the site’s homepage, now drives the search experience.

A click on a city brings up a selection of attributes such as “nightlife,” “arty,” or “dining,” and a click on an attribute pulls up the corresponding neighborhoods, each listed with a colorful photo and labels to help folks make the best selection. Finally, the neighborhood page gives both an overview of the community along with a more detailed photo-centric guide to local attractions, features tips from local residents, and shows-off popular places to stay.

Tuesday’s launch rethinks the booking experience around the travel factors that matter most to people searching for places to stay, and suggests that Airbnb’s plan is to make search entirely driven by the Neighborhoods’ experience. The startup said it will continue to roll out Airbnb Neighborhoods to additional travel markets around the world.