Airbnb London prices soar as UK eyes curbs in tourist haunts

The upmarket neighbourhoods of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, popular with office workers and tourists, are the most expensive boroughs. — Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

The cost of renting an entire London home on Airbnb Inc has jumped as demand from tourists rises and the number of listings lags pre-pandemic levels.

The bounce back from the pandemic means the median rate per night for an entire property is about 25% higher than it was in 2019, according to Inside Airbnb, which collects data from listings on Airbnb Inc’s website.

The upmarket neighbourhoods of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, popular with office workers and tourists, are the most expensive boroughs. A home in Westminster ran about £256 (RM1,355) per night in May. Inside Airbnb’s data is limited to the median price for a whole apartment or house that’s available for 90 days or more on the website.

“Scraped data is not an accurate reflection of activity on the Airbnb platform,” a spokesperson for Airbnb said in an email. Almost half of London users said that Airbnb saved them money, and “our platform is agile and as demand returns to cities, we are also seeing a return to growth in total urban supply”.

The UK government is considering restrictions on short-term rentals as part of a review of the impact portals like Airbnb are having on people living in popular tourist destinations, including London. New rules could include property inspections to enforce regulations around noise, safety and antisocial behavior, it said.

“Holiday let sites like Airbnb have helped boost tourism across the country, but we need to make sure this doesn’t drive residents out of their communities,” Housing Minister Stuart Andrew said when the consultation began last month. “We are already taking action to tackle the issue of second and empty homes in some areas by empowering councils to charge up to double the rate of council tax.”

North Yorkshire County Council, popular with tourists attracted to its national parks, has proposed introducing the council tax premium in 2024.

While prices have roared back, the number of listings in London hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the Inside Airbnb data show. There were about 14,000 entire properties available on the website in London in May, about a third below the peak in 2020.

The average daily rate for a hotel room in London was about £151 (RM799) in April, according to preliminary data compiled by researcher STR. – Bloomberg

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