When Kathryn Flett shared in the pages of this paper that this year is the first time her Airbnb has not been fully booked from May to October, many Telegraph readers were quick to explain why she might be struggling to find guests.
Kathryn has been a host for more than a decade, and recently had the opportunity to meet other Superhosts like herself at a crisis talk in St Ives hosted by Airbnb – and discovered she wasn't the only one struggling to find guests this summer.
For Telegraph Travel, she wrote: "For the past nine years, Airbnb has provided me with around a third of my annual income. This year, I will be lucky to cover my costs." She went on to wonder: "has the UK really fallen out of love with Airbnb?"
The answer, it seems, is a resounding yes. At least when it comes to British Airbnbs, and particularly those in Cornwall. Of the nearly 1,000 comments, most point to prices as a reason that so many Britons are looking abroad again this year after two summers of staycations during the pandemic. Extra charges, inconvenient check-out times, and poor customer service are other bug bears for Telegraph readers.
Read on to see what your fellow readers have had to say and then share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this article.
The argument against Airbnb
‘There are too many extra charges’
Having used various self-catering accommodation sites, including Booking.com and Airbnb – for cities, coast and country breaks within the UK and abroad – it is clear that Airbnb is not the affordable option it used to be. Add on their extra charges, and it’s often cheaper to book a hotel, or book with the property owners directly.
It seems as though greed is taking over, as the properties themselves haven’t been transformed or relocated to justify the extra costs charged. It is always best to shop around ahead of time.
‘It’s not affordable – and there are cheaper options abroad’
@Zeno the Stoic
It’s mainly because of the outrageous price hikes during the Covid pandemic, which have alienated holidaymakers, especially in busier places such as Cornwall. Now that overseas travel is back, there are much cheaper options abroad, plus the weather is much more reliable.
‘The check-out times are far too early’
Having used the Airbnb platform on and off over the last few years, I have seen the prices rocket. I also dislike the check-in times of after 3pm and check-out times of often around 9am, with hefty additional bills. I’ve decided to give it a rest. I also have noticed that St Ives’ businesses like to charge extortionate prices all year round, so I’m giving that a miss too.
‘The pricing algorithm puts me off’
Perhaps the price increasing algorithm that ups the price the more people view your property is working against hosts. I just booked two holidays in cottages in Cornwall through a commercial cottage rental group; both were cheaper than going through Airbnb. I suspect the Airbnb commissions are finally in need of review and reduction.
‘You can get better self-catering options elsewhere online’
I won't, on principle, pay the service fee, cleaning fee and hand over my passport, driving licence and other documents that Airbnb thinks they need to identify me. There are far better cottages available on other websites for less money.
‘Airbnb has lost its raison d’etre’
Airbnb opened to many the ability to take a holiday at a really affordable price in places where expensive hotels were outside the reach of the ordinary working family. It was such a boon and great fun. Then there was a sea change as some hosts began to realise they could charge more and get it. Thus the venues just lost their raison d’etre. It worked and was fun when it was a cheap alternative. If folks wanted to pay hotel prices, guess where they went?
‘I don’t want to pay a £150 cleaning fee’
In many cases an Airbnb is more expensive than a hotel, where someone else caters for me and cleans my room each day. When I go on holiday I want a break from housework and cooking. I also don’t pay an extra £150 for cleaning when I stay in a hotel.
‘Airbnb has terrible customer service’
@C S Artist
I will never use Airbnb again, their review system is biased towards the host. They have appalling customer service, and they pile on extra charges. I know many people who refuse to use them. Advertise on other platforms which offer a better deal and do not exploit guests.
The argument for
‘We like the informality of Airbnb’
@Austin Matthews MBE
We are, at present, in an Airbnb in the Isle of Wight. Over the years we have preferred the informality of an Airbnb from the more formal hotel scene. There is too much food and fuss in hotels. In an Airbnb, we can go out to a restaurant when we feel the need and, as ancients, we are not always catered for very well in hotels or restaurants – too much, too rich and so on.
‘It’s perfect for multi-gen holidays together’
I have had good experiences with Airbnb and less good ones. There is definitely a market for whole house rentals. My three-generation family enjoys getting together in accommodation where our concerns are exclusive. Airbnb suits our needs very well.