Plum Guide Review

November 15, 2021
Reviews
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By only acceping the top 1% of homes, Plum Guide offers a compelling alternative to vacation rental mainstay Airbnb. Every property is hand-selected for quality and design, and many have passed a 150-point inspection to ensure they have everything you could possibly need.

Plum Guide only operates within the United States and Europe today, but is rapidly expanding into new markets. Whether you’re looking for a rural getaway or an urban stay, if you’re traveling within the US or Europe, we highly recommend Plum Guide.

Launched in 2016, London-based Plum Guide is a growing marketplace of the world’s most beautiful homes. As of this writing, Plum Guide offers more than 16,000 properties across the United States and western Europe, and continues to add more each month. 

The Plum Guide traveler is a highly discerning, affluent professional that travels frequently and values great design. As such, Plum Guide seeks out properties with stylish furniture and unique touches to make their traveler feel at home.

Throughout this post, you’ll get a feel for the types of properties you can expect from Plum Guide, as well as a deep dive into the company’s philosophy and how the site works.

What Is Plum Guide?

Plum Guide has been called “the Michelin Guide for vacation homes,” and for good reason: their homes embody “affordable luxury,” which means they give the feeling of walking into an interior designer’s home without the expense. Just as Michelin reviewers are extremely exacting and tough, Plum Guide reviewers reject 99% of the properties they see, which is how they keep the site’s inventory incredibly high quality.

Plum Guide doesn’t accept private rooms or shared spaces, only entire homes, and also doesn’t own or manage any of the properties on its site. Many of Plum Guide’s properties are child-friendly and infant-friendly, though if this is important to you, it’s always a good idea to verify it with your host before booking. Definitely check with your host if you’re traveling with pets

What Can You Book With Plum Guide?

You can book a wide variety of properties with Plum Guide, including these:

ApartmentsHousesFarmhouses
Ski chaletsCastlesVillas
Country estatesPenthousesSummer cottages
LoftsHouseboatsPied-à-terres

Regardless of the property type, all properties on the website have been selected by Plum Guide, so you know they’re high quality places to stay.

Here are some of the filters you can apply when searching for a Plum Guide property: garden/courtyard, swimming pool, hot tub, elevator, rain shower, bathtub, pets allowed, air conditioning, central heating, fireplace, barbecue, gym/spa, dishwasher, washer/dryer, parking, games.

You can also filter properties by these types of activities on Plum Guide: luxury, coastal, skiing, beach, golfing, hiking, romantic getaway, business trip.

Benefits Of Plum Guide

There are many benefits of booking with Plum Guide, but here are just a few:

#1 Hand-Selected Properties

Every property on Plum Guide has been hand-selected by their internal team for its design, location and amenities. With that in mind, you don’t need to worry about ever booking a bad place—when only the top 1% of properties make it onto the site, you know they’re all going to be good.

#2 The Plum Award 

On top of being hand-selected by Plum Guide’s team, some properties have also been granted the Plum Award, which means they’ve passed the 150-point Plum Test inspection. These properties are marked with a special Plum Award badge, and have even more information available, like custom floorplans designed by Plum Guide, which help guests understand exactly how the space is laid out.  

Plum Guide Review Award

#3 Exclusive Properties

About 25% of Plum Guide’s properties are exclusive to the site, which means they can’t be booked on Airbnb, or VRBO, or an OTA like Booking.com, or anywhere else—only on Plum Guide.

#4 Professionally Cleaned

The difference between a home that’s been cleaned by a professional team and one that hasn’t is like the difference between staying at a luxury hotel room and staying at a friend’s house. Every Plum Guide home is professionally cleaned before every stay, and some hosts go the extra mile by arranging regular cleaning during your stay, too.

#5 Meeting & Exceeding Expectations

Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of arriving at an Airbnb that hardly resembles its photos, and it’s not fun. But since Plum Guide’s team takes all the photos for every property, you’ll never be disappointed when you arrive.

Plum Guide vs. Airbnb

To frame Plum Guide in Airbnb terms, it’s like a hybrid between Airbnb Plus and Airbnb Luxe. Airbnb Plus properties are managed by individuals but have been vetted for design and quality, while Airbnb Luxe properties are managed by professionals and, like Plum Guide, do not have public reviews. Plum Guide’s properties have some elements of both Plus and Luxe.

So while Plum Guide and Airbnb serve some of the same purposes, there are a few key differences between the two companies.

#1 Carefully Curated Properties

Plum Guide calls its “Plum Test” the world’s most meticulous home test—and they might just be right. The Plum Test was developed by interviewing psychologists, interior designers, hoteliers, architects, and regular travelers around one main question: What are the secret ingredients that make for a perfect stay?

The Plum Test assesses homes on 150 criteria across categories like quality, condition, location, design, and the sociability of the space. Plum Guide hosts are also heavily scrutinized, with a particular focus placed on their communication, hospitality, and service standards. 

Plum Guide Review Home Critic

Here are just a few of the specific criteria Plum Guide inspects:

WiFi SpeedSoundproofingMattress QualityWater Pressure
Toiletry QualityLinens QualityHome LocationSafety
Property AccessNatural LightDesign AestheticSociability

Here are some of the specific questions Home Critics ask themselves when inspecting a Plum Guide home:

  • Is the home located in an inspiring or soulful neighbourhood?
  • Are there cool places to eat brunch and explore within a 10-minute walk? 
  • Is the home well-maintained, or does it show signs of wear and tear? 
  • Is the communal space set up to facilitate great conversation?
  • Are the toiletries high quality? 
  • Is there strong water pressure in the shower?
  • Is there fast WiFi? 
  • Are the linens in the second bedroom high quality? 
  • Would a lone woman feel safe walking in the neighborhood at night? 
  • Does the host have a warm and friendly personality?
  • Is the home worth posting on Instagram? 

Home Critics spend at least 2 hours in every home conducting the Plum Test. Homes fail the Plum Test for a variety of reasons, including:

  • An unpleasant smell
  • A poor-quality mattress
  • An excessively noisy bedroom
  • An unresponsive or unreliable host
  • Excessive wear and tear

Homes are also reviewed on a time schedule and in response to guest feedback to ensure hosts are upholding the Plum Guide standard. This means guests can book Plum Guide homes worry-free, knowing that every property on the site meets an extremely high standard of quality. 

In rare cases when Plum Guide accepts a home that falls short on some criteria, they make that clear in the property description. For example, if a property meets all Plum Guide’s requirements but has a small kitchen or TV, that will be noted.

#2 A Better Review Philosophy

If you’ve ever used Airbnb, you can probably see the major flaws in their review system: it feels rude to leave a review of less than 5 stars, so many guests who had a subpar experience simply don’t leave any review at all. In fact, 95% of homes on Airbnb have a rating of 4.5 stars or above, a clear indication that the review system is biased toward the high end. 

Rather than copy Airbnb’s review model, Plum Guide has replaced it with an independent system that’s more reliable, consistent and trustworthy, taking the hit-and-miss out of the market. Simply put, Plum Guide chooses to only list stellar homes on their platform, and takes every piece of critical feedback very seriously.

Plum Guide Review Quality

It’s worth noting that guests and hosts both still leave reviews at the end of each stay, and that feedback is shared with each other and with Plum Guide. This keeps hosts accountable to the Plum Guide standard of quality (their listing can be taken down if the issue is a major one) , and helps Plum Guide remove any unsavory guests from the platform.

Plum Guide believes it’s their responsibility—not the responsibility of the guest who visited before you—to guarantee great quality, and it’s their intention to take the hit-and-miss out of booking a great vacation rental.  

This is why I say that Plum Guide is a lot more like Airbnb Plus and Airbnb Luxe than it is “regular” Airbnb, since almost anyone can start hosting guests on the regular Airbnb platform, while Airbnb Plus and Airbnb Luxe hosts are held to a much higher standard.

#3 Far Superior Customer Service

I used to think that Airbnb’s customer service was OK, but in recent years my opinion has changed dramatically. Today, I firmly believe that Airbnb’s customer service is terrible. I don’t need to go into the details of my personal experiences here, but based on my conversations with friends, there’s a good chance you’ve probably had bad experiences with them, too.

Plum Guide’s customer service, on the other hand, is friendly, helpful, and easy to reach. Unlike Airbnb’s team, the folks at Plum Guide seem motivated to actually solve your problem, not just get you off the phone. 

I don’t usually place much weight on customer service, but when it comes to a booking worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, it’s important to me to know that the person on the other end of the phone has my best interests in mind. I know that’s the case with Plum Guide.

#4 Much Easier To Search 

This may sound trivial, but finding truly great homes on Airbnb can take a long time—several hours, depending on how picky you are. That search process is usually fun for a while, but after you’ve scrolled through several hundred properties looking for the few that catch your eye, it begins to feel like a real chore.

Plum Guide, on the other hand, only lists exceptional properties, so the search process is more a matter of location and price. Very few people would look at a Plum Guide home and not be impressed, which means you can cut your search time down from a few hours to just a few minutes.

How Much Do Plum Guide Homes Cost?

There’s no doubt that Plum Guide leans toward the high end of the market—they call their offering “affordable luxury”—making its properties more expensive (on average) than Airbnbs. And that makes total sense: when you’re booking luxury properties, they’re going to come at a higher price than less impressive homes. 

Prices on Plum Guide properties range from about $100 USD per night for 1-bedroom urban crashpads up to $25,000 USD per night and up for ski chalets or entire castles capable of accommodating dozens of guests. All fees, including cleaning and service fees, are included in the total price displayed on the payment page, so you’ll never be surprised by hidden fees.

A good rule of thumb for Plum Guide homes is $250 per bedroom per night: $500 per night for a 2-bedroom home, or $1,000 per night for a 4-bedroom. Assuming each bedroom is serving two adults—plus maybe a couple of kids on the couch—that means you can book some pretty spectacular homes for around $100 per person per night.

Examples Of Plum Guide Homes

I think it’s useful to see both budget homes and true luxury homes, so here are two homes in each of Paris, France and Joshua Tree, USA so you get a feel for what’s available on Plum Guide.

#1 Plum Guide Paris: Budget Home (The Red Books)

1 bedroom, 1 bathroom | Sleeps 4 people | 60 sq/m | $100/night

Plum Guide Review Paris 1
Plum Guide Review Paris 2
Plum Guide Review Paris 3

#2 Plum Guide Paris: Luxury Home (The Guardian Lions)

6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms | Sleeps 12 people | 660 sq/m | $3,500/night

Plum Guide Review Paris 6
Plum Guide Review Paris 7
Plum Guide Review Paris 8

#3 Plum Guide Joshua Tree: Budget Home (Flower Girls)

2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom | Sleeps 4 people | $250/night

Plum Guide Review Joshua Tree 1
Plum Guide Review Joshua Tree 2
Plum Guide Review Joshua Tree 3

#4 Plum Guide Joshua Tree: Luxury Home (Black Desert House)

2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms | Sleeps 4 people | $3,000/night

Plum Guide Review Joshua Tree 4
Plum Guide Review Joshua Tree 5
Plum Guide Review Joshua Tree 6

Where Does Plum Guide Operate?

As of April 2021, Plum Guide offers more than 16,000 hand-selected properties across the United States and Europe. Those properties tend to be concentrated in major cities and popular vacation getaways, which means that some places you go will have zero Plum Guide properties, and others will have hundreds or thousands. Plum Guide does not currently offer any properties in South America, Africa, Australia, or Asia.

Here are the number of properties Plum Guide has available in a few different markets: 

  • United Kingdom: 3,400
  • United States: 3,100
  • France: 1,400 
  • Italy: 1,300
  • Spain: 800
  • Portugal: 700

Other countries where Plum Guide has properties include Greece, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Israel, and Wales. 

Plum Guide In The United States

Plum Guide has strong coverage in major American cities like New York City (800 properties), Los Angeles (400 properties), and Palm Springs (200 properties), as well as hundreds more in vacation spots like Joshua Tree National Park, the Hudson Valley, the Hamptons, Aspen, and Lake Tahoe.

Plum Guide In Europe

Like it does in the United States, Plum Guide has extensive inventory in major western European cities like London (1,600 properties), Paris (1,300 properties), Rome (600 properties), Lisbon (600 properties), and Barcelona (400 properties). It also offers plenty of properties in southern England, rural Scotland and Wales, the French Riviera, and vacation towns like the ski village of Baqueira, Spain and Lake Como, Italy. 

Can I Trust Plum Guide?

There are a number of reasons why you should feel safe trusting Plum Guide and the properties on their website.

First, every property on Plum Guide has been hand-selected by the Plum Guide team, and many of them have passed the 2-hour, 150-point home inspection. No stone is left unturned during these inspections, so you can rest easy knowing that any home you book on Plum Guide is going to meet or exceed your expectations.

Second, Plum Guide is much more obsessive about details than other vacation rental platforms, including Airbnb. Only 1% of homes make it onto their platform, so if you trust Airbnb, you can definitely trust Plum Guide.

Third, Plum Guide has received funding from prominent venture capital firms—including LocalGlobe, Latitude, Hearst Ventures, Octopus Ventures, Talis Capital and Upscale—and renowned angel investors like Chris Hitchen and Alexander Edward Chesterman. They have the support and mentorship of some of the brightest minds in UK startups, and are well-respected in the industry.

Finally, every Plum Guide host also has to pass the Plum Test, which means—like their home—they’ve been thoroughly verified by the Plum Guide team.   

Plum Guide’s Cancelation Policy

Plum Guide has several different cancelation policies for hosts to choose from, each of which carries its own specific terms. For example, here is the Moderate Cancelation Policy

  • Guests receive a full refund of the total booking value for cancelations made at least 30 days before the local check-in date and time which is specified in the booking confirmation email.
  • Guests receive a 50% refund of the total booking value for cancelations made at least 7 days before the local check-in date and time which is specified in the booking confirmation email.
  • No refund for cancelation requested within 7 days of local check-in date and time.
Plum Guide Review Cancelation Policy

As of this writing, Plum Guide also has a special COVID-19 cancelation policy: if you can’t travel due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Plum Guide will refund you in full

All Plum Guide properties can be canceled penalty-free within 24 hours of booking. 

As with all vacation rentals, you should always check the cancelation policy before you book. Refunds are processed immediately, though the funds will generally take 3-5 business days to appear on your credit card statement or in your bank account.

How To Contact Plum Guide

You can contact Plum Guide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the following phone numbers and email address:

United States+1 888-535-5667
Australia+61 1800 953-263
Rest of World+44 (0) 203 795 1390
Email[email protected]

In Summary

By only acceping the top 1% of homes, Plum Guide offers a compelling alternative to vacation rental mainstay Airbnb. Every property is hand-selected for quality and design, and many have passed a 150-point inspection to ensure they have everything you could possibly need.

Plum Guide only operates within the United States and Europe today, but is rapidly expanding into new markets. Whether you’re looking for a rural getaway or an urban stay, if you’re traveling within the US or Europe, we highly recommend Plum Guide.

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