Create a standout vacation rental with tips from 20 top homes of 2020

Before guests book, they look.

When a potential guest searches for homes on Vacasa.com, we know which homes they look at, how long they spend poring over photos and descriptions, and of course, which homes they add to their list of favorites.

We compiled 20 of the most-favorited Vacasa vacation homes around the country. Want to know what makes a good vacation rental? Learn from the vacation rentals that won the most hearts on our website in 2020.

vacation rental bedroom decorated in ocean hues located in dauphin island, al

1. Walkin' On Sunshine

Dauphin Island, AL

The owners of this Dauphin Island beach house were intentional with their vacation home decor, making sure it showcased their oceanfront location. They adorned each room with tranquil ocean hues and respective patterns of seashells, starfish, and coral. They were also smart about maximizing their space. Within four bedrooms, they placed enough beds (including a bunk bed and two king beds) to allow for a group of 10 guests.

“We have stayed here the last two years. It is the BEST location on the island. Mornings spent on the deck overlooking the water are the best way to start each day!” — guest Gerard S.

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interior of oregon vacation home with solid pine wood walls and cozy cabin decor

2. Alderwood

Rhododendron, OR

What’s better than soaking in a hot tub? Soaking in a hot tub outdoors in the middle of an evergreen forest, that’s what. (Our studies show hot tubs can increase your rental income by 15–20%.) The Alderwood owners knew this experience would draw guests to their charming cabin in Oregon. They made their interior just as inviting, with solid pine wood walls, cozy cabin decor, and retro touches like a wood-burning stove and vinyl record player. The result? A rustic yet refined aesthetic that reeled in interest.

“Wonderfully private woodsy getaway with a rustic and charming feel.” — guest Amelia S.

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3. LaRaya Retreat

Anna Maria, FL

The owners transformed their vacation home into a private retreat under the palms, complete with a lagoon-inspired heated pool and outdoor shower. They also built stairway access to the second-floor sundeck from the outside (in addition to the access from the bedrooms)—an ideal place to chill after a day at Bean Point Beach, just a 2-minute walk away. When not enjoying the beach or the pool guests can spend hours playing ping pong, pool, and foosball in the game room.

“The home on Anna Maria Island was fantastic. The person that decorated this home had great taste and every room is very comfortable and makes you feel like you are in a beach house.” — guest Michael J.

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scottsdale vacation home desert oasis including infinity pool, hot tub, rooftop deck and fireplace

4. Desert Escape

Scottsdale, AZ

Here, savvy owners treat their guests to a playful and sprawling outdoor desert experience. In addition to an infinity pool, a hot tub, and a rooftop deck, the homeowners installed an outdoor kitchen with a fireplace and an additional firepit. They also cater to families by offering putting greens, a mini disc golf course, and a cornhole set.

“The backyard is HUGE and there is ample room to spread out and enjoy. Our favorite part was the rooftop deck which allows a sunset view to the west as well as an amazing view east to the mountains.” — guest Marc A.

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cottage rental in shaver lake, ca with open floor plan and muted color scheme

5. Blue Sky Cottage

Shaver Lake, CA

How do you make an intimate cottage feel spacious enough for nine guests? These homeowners opted for an open floor plan, allowing guests to spend time dining, cooking, and lounging without feeling cramped. They also chose a muted color scheme that was carried throughout every room in the house, plus kept small knick knacks to a minimum. The result? A stay that feels luxuriously cozy and clutter-free. Fun note: This beautiful home was featured on HGTV’s House Hunters.

“My family and I loved this cabin! It was very clean and inviting. The beds were very comfortable and the open floor plan made it very welcoming.” — guest Emily J.

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large vacation home on lake chelan with badminton on the lawn

6. Three Lakes Haven

Lake Chelan, WA

Smart vacation rental owners understand they need to attract guests with various activity levels. The owners of this Lake Chelan vacation home go beyond enticing guests with an outdoor tub and large fireplace. They also offer recreational options with a mini home gym, badminton on the lawn, horseshoes, cornhole, and a driveway basketball court.

“The house is beautiful and very spacious for a large group. The kids all had fun in the game room and the adults had a great time enjoying the hot tub. All in all this spot had something for everyone!!” — guest Darcy E.

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donner lake vacation home with private dock and ample outdoor seating

7. Lake Front Family Home at Donner

Truckee, CA

The owners of this large Donner Lake vacation home were intentional when maximizing their lakefront location. Comfy seating out on the private dock and stone patio, outdoor cafe seating, private swimming ladder, and an outdoor grill offer guests many ways to lounge and soak up this beautiful setting. Inside, they outfitted the home with plush hotel-style bedding, cozy furniture, and family essentials, like games, books, and extra beach towels.

“We were two families and fit perfectly in this house, which provided amazing views, all of the things we needed to stay more than comfortably and the opportunity for wonderful memories.” — guest Sara M.

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8. Blessing on the Beach

Panama City Beach, FL

These vacation rental owners know how to pile on the luxury and comforts at their beachfront tri-level home. They offer shaded decks on all floors, plus private bathrooms in all five bedrooms—a rare feature in vacation homes. As the ultimate convenience, this home also includes an elevator to access all three floors, a plus for guests with mobility issues and for bringing in groceries and luggage. Plus, guests love the private path to the beach and the saltwater plunge pool.

“This house was so beautiful and huge. My family and I got to enjoy the beautiful beach view on each floor and the swimming pool. The highlight of this house was the elevator.” — guest Jasmine L.

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cabin rental with large deck with porch swing and high ceilings in pigeon forge, tn

9. Playin' Hookie

Pigeon Forge, TN

Like its name, this home attracts guests who want to both play and kick back. Next to a soaring stone fireplace, the vacation home owners placed a modern wood shuffleboard and added a vintage video game console to one of the bedrooms for some friendly competition. Outside on the front porch, they lined multiple rocking chairs and a swing, where you can hang out after soaking in the expansive outdoor hot tub.

“Both parents and the teen had so much fun with the vintage video game console (the parents SCHOOLED the kids on Frogger) and very high quality shuffleboard table. It was just the right size for us, not too big and not too small. Very clean.” — guest Irene H.

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10. Baydream Believer

Galveston, TX

Big on space and even bigger on fun, this luxurious bayview estate takes guests’ Galveston Island getaway to the next level. It starts with the owner’s decision to transform the family room into the ultimate game room. To draw groups together, they offer a foosball table, a pool table, and an air hockey table. Plus, they open their vacation home to not one, but two, dogs! (They must know that homes that allow dogs tend to make 10–20% more rental income than homes that don’t.) Another smart move: they optimized their sleeping space by offering three sets of bunk beds.

“We've been back to this house 5 times! It's perfect for multi-family units to convene for pool, beach, bay, and fun in the house. We have made many memories, ranging from kids enjoying some amenities to adults chilling in the evening to fabulous sunsets on the front porch.” — guest Stephen S.

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10 more top home tips

Creating a standout vacation rental FAQ

Standing out is vital to gaining attention and bookings in a crowded market. Travelers want remarkable experiences and are drawn to vacation rentals that go above and beyond the status quo.

There are a few smart tactics to make your vacation home distinct. Stunning interior design can quickly capture more interest from potential guests (especially when paired with professional photography). Providing fun, unexpected amenities shows guests you’re creatively thinking of ways to make their getaways extra special. These include game tables, backyard mini golf, outdoor barbecue grills and firepits, and amenities for guests’ dogs and children.

Today’s travelers have high standards for vacation homes. They expect all the vital essentials for a pleasant stay (think a smart TV, microwave, and cleaning supplies), yet they also appreciate delightful extras that make their getaways exceptional. Shopping and stocking your vacation home, especially at the beginning, can be an overwhelming process. Download our ultimate inventory checklist for vacation rentals for an easy, complete room-by-room guide.

Over the years, we’ve become the experts at increasing both income and bookings for vacation home owners. We know what attracts more guests and what amenities they’re willing to splurge on.

For instance, by installing a hot tub, it’s more likely you can command a higher rate and drive more reservations, resulting in 15–20 percent more rental income. Designating your property as pet-friendly can also garner a higher occupancy rate. And, your vacation home’s interior design can capture more interest and help your home stand out among the competition.

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