Upmarket Airbnb rival onefinestay just raised £25 million

Oscar Williams-Grut

onefinestay — the London startup that lets people stay in expensive, serviced houses in cities around the world — just announced $40 million (£25.4 million) of new funding from a range of top investors.

Everyone from deep technology fund Intel Capital to Hyatt Hotels have taken part in the investment round, which doubles the total raised by the 5-year-old company to $80 million (£50.8 million). onefinestay has also poached InterContinental Hotel's former chief finance officer as part of a beefing up of its management team.

onefinestay operates a sort of upmarket Airbnb service, renting out homes and apartments in trendy areas to tourists while the owners are away. These houses are much fancier than those typically found on similar sites like Airbnb, with the average charge for a onefinestay property above $600 (£382) a night.

onefinestay also does much more than just provide a platform for people to rent their houses out as Airbnb does. It cleans each property before and after people stay and provides linen and toiletries, just like a hotel would. The company also takes all its own photos of the properties to market them.

"A lot of it comes down to delivering a set of services consistently, repeatably, to a high standard of quality. That’s where the guts of this business are. Doing that means you have to really value the work people do on the front line as well as the software engineers."

Each home that is signed up is individually mapped, and cleaning and servicing staff work on individual checklists for each home on an app, much like Uber's driver apps.

Marsh says the typical customer is: "An American family coming from a coastal city in the US to stay in a 3 bedroom house in Notting Hill for 10 days over the summer."

He adds: "But you could equally talk about a business traveller who’s in town for a couple of weeks on a consultancy project and doesn’t want to eat on their own in a restaurant every night or get room service."

Marsh says the funding will go towards taking the company to new cities around the world. He says: "We haven’t communicated anything publicly but if you look at a continent like Europe the obvious candidates are Barcelona, Rome, Berlin. These are the places where we know the need exists."

Marsh says the company's research has identified 100 possible cities around the world where they think the company could succeed, but he says: "Our view has been to get it right not just to do it fast for the sake of doing it fast. In practice we’re growing very quickly in our existing markets."

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