Airbnb’s New Site Is Prettier, More Social, and Very Distracting

Airbnb already defies all logic with a site full of beautiful spaces in desirable locations, not to mention real people handing over the keys to their homes. This summer, the company has outdone itself with a redesigned site and iPhone app that might turn aspirational travel planning into a dangerous addiction.

For starters, there are now “wish lists.” Plenty of sites have these already, but Airbnb has figured out what it is that people really want to see with curated lists like Modern Getaways and Vintage-Style Abodes. Magically, all of these homes have been professionally photographed to look like they are run by real hoteliers instead of regular people.

Anyone who has ever watched HGTV’s “House Hunters” and its many spin-offs will immediately appreciate the gut-renovated craftsman bungalows and stainless steel-everything-lofts that, when it comes down to it, no one can actually afford to own. (As a New Yorker, I punch my screen every time I watch someone in another state buy a brand-new home for less than I pay in rent. I’m exaggerating. Sort of). But with Airbnb you can stay in your dream home for a few nights, at least, sometimes for less than a hundred dollars a night.

And it gets better. There are an astonishing number of novelty properties that break the apartment complex/stucco track home mold. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey has contributed a wish list devoted just to house boats. Why settle for a house when you can have a private island or a classic VW camper van? There are actually three Frank Lloyd Wright homes that someone has decided to rent out instead of sealing them in plastic. It’s like moving into the architecture and design section of the MoMA.

If you actually connect to the site through Facebook, as Airbnb suggests that you do, you can see which places your friends are interested in and maybe plan a road trip. But Airbnb might have to start running ads on their site, because who has time to actually go anywhere when there are so many pictures to look at?