Which?, a UK consumer advocacy, compared the cost of thousands of hotels with 300,000 Airbnb and Vrbo stays and found private rentals were almost a fifth (19%) more expensive on average.

For your reference, one UK pound is approximately 1.2 US dollar.

Private holiday rentals are a popular option for thousands of travellers every year, and are often assumed to be cheaper than hotels on the basis that guests are not paying for their accommodation to be staffed. Instead they can enjoy home comforts, which can often include a private kitchen or perhaps extra living space. 

However, new research from the consumer champion found the price of one-bed listings on Airbnb and rival booking website Vrbo outstripped the average cost of a hotel room (excluding five-star hotels) in 38 of 50 UK and world destinations. The average price of a one-bedroom Airbnb or Vrbo listing was £120 – almost a fifth more (19%) than a hotel room, which costs £101 on average.

In some locations the price differences were particularly stark – setting travellers back hundreds of pounds more for a rental over a week-long stay, even before accounting for service charges, which were not included in Which?’s price analysis.

In Santorini, a one-bed rental on Airbnb and Vrbo was £203 a night on average, 71 per cent more than a hotel stay (£119). Over the course of a week, the savings for hotel guests could be substantial, with holidaymakers cutting their costs by as much as £588 on average.

In Amsterdam, one-bed Airbnb and Vrbo listings were 58 per cent more expensive per night on average at £183, compared with £116 a night for a hotel. That means travellers could pay as much as £496 more on average over a seven-night stay.

Hotel rates in many Asian cities were also comparatively cheap when contrasted with listings on Airbnb and Vrbo. In Hong Kong for example, one-bed listings were 85 per cent more expensive on average, setting travellers back £98 per night, compared with just £53 for a hotel room, with similar findings in Singapore and Dubai.

The phenomenon was not just confined to global destinations however, with stays in many key UK tourist hotspots more expensive when booking through Airbnb or Vrbo. 

The picturesque seaside town of Southwold in Suffolk draws thousands of visitors every year, and at an average of £155, the cost of a hotel room was among the priciest the consumer champion found in the UK. However, this was still significantly cheaper than the average cost of a listing on Vrbo or Airbnb in the town, which sat at a hefty £223 per night, 44 per cent more. Over the course of a week-long stay, holidaymakers could stand to save as much as £476 by opting to stay in a hotel. Hotels also worked out cheaper on average in all four of the UK’s capital cities. In Greater London, an Airbnb or Vrbo stay cost almost 60 per cent more (59%) at £162, than the average hotel stay (£102). In Edinburgh, meanwhile, holidaymakers could save £22 per night on average, with the average cost of a hotel stay coming to £104, compared to £126 for an Airbnb or Vrbo rental. In Cardiff and Belfast, savings were more modest, but could still see holidaymakers make savings over the course of a week, with hotel rooms costing £5 less on average in Belfast (£99 vs £104), and £11 less in Cardiff per night (£108 vs £119).

Holiday lets rose in popularity during the pandemic, and continued demand has likely played a role in rising prices. Though a hotel stay may be more cost-effective than a room rental in many destinations, hotels have also seen their prices rise rapidly, with UK room rates up 11 per cent on average last year when compared with 2019, and US rates up 14 per cent, according to hospitality analyst CoStar.

Private rentals can still offer good value however – and larger groups are more likely to save when compared to booking into a hotel.

In France, which has one of the largest supplies of private rentals in the world (the number of listings for France are second only to the US), Airbnb and Vrbo listings were cheaper or the same price as hotels in five of the seven destinations researchers looked at, with a one-bedroom rental typically costing less than a hotel room in Antibes, Biarritz, La Rochelle and Avignon, while they were the same price in Nice. However, rental listings in Bordeaux and Paris were more expensive on average.

City hotel prices vs Airbnb/Vrbo prices

 Average price of a one-bedroom Airbnb/Vrbo*Average price of a hotel room**Price difference
Greater London£162£102£60
Hong Kong£98£53£45
San Francisco£163£127£36
Palma de Mallorca£115£87£28
New York£173£156£17

 Table notes: *Airbnb/Vrbo prices are based on AirDNA data and include cleaning fees but not service fees. **Hotel prices are based on Kayak data and exclude five-star hotels.

UK hotel prices vs Airbnb/Vrbo prices

 Average price of a one-bedroom Airbnb/Vrbo*Average price of a hotel room**Price difference
Greater London£162£102£60
St Andrews£160£120£40

Table notes:  *Airbnb/Vrbo prices are based on AirDNA data and include cleaning fees but not service fees. **Hotel prices are based on Kayak data and exclude five-star hotels.

 Coastal hotel prices vs Airbnb/Vrbo prices

 Average price of a one-bedroom Airbnb/Vrbo*Average price of a hotel room**Price difference
Santorini, Greece£203£119£84
Almancil, Portugal£144£63£81
Alcudia, Spain£124£87£37
Sorrento, Italy£146£119£27
Zakynthos, Greece£95£79£16
Albufeira, Portugal£88£78£10
Olhao, Portugal£80£72£8
Positano, Italy£235£233£2
Lefkada, Greece£92£90£2
Corfu, Greece£74£80-£6
Antibes, France£94£103-£9
Biarritz, France£92£102-£10
Quarteira, Portugal£85£101-£16
La Rochelle, France£72£109-£37

Table notes:  *Airbnb/Vrbo prices are based on AirDNA data and include cleaning fees but not service fees. **Hotel prices are based on Kayak data and exclude five-star hotels.


Which? compared the average price of a hotel room (excluding five-star hotels) and a one-bed holiday let booked through Airbnb or rival platform Vrbo in 50 destinations. 

Data analyst AirDNA supplied the average cost of one-bed Airbnb and Vrbo listings from May 2022 to May 2023 excluding service fees.

On Airbnb, holidaymakers can choose to book a private room in their host’s home, an option that is not applicable on Vrbo. Which? only looked at listings for entire properties.

Comparison site Kayak provided the average cost of a hotel room for the same 12-month period excluding five-star hotels.

Rights of Reply:


“Vrbo only lists whole, private, holiday homes, which is a different experience to booking a hotel room. When you book a Vrbo, you are able to take advantage of amenities within the comfort of the property such as being able to cook and eat together in the kitchen, or relax together in shared spaces with friends and family. This also means that travellers can save money during their stay, if they don’t want to dine in a hotel or a restaurant.

Vrbo strives to be as transparent as possible about pricing. For example, an inclusive pricing feature in the search experience helps guests have a better idea of the total cost of a booking as well as the nightly rate. Each listing page and the check-out experience also includes itemised costs with details on fees and taxes. Hosts are ultimately responsible for setting their own fees, but we encourage hosts to consolidate their fees, so the guest has a better expectation of the total cost when they’re searching.”  


“This data is wrong and based on flawed methodology. It overstates prices on Airbnb, and compares standard hotel rooms to entire places listed on Airbnb, which typically include kitchens and living spaces. There is something for every budget on Airbnb and nearly half of guests say booking on Airbnb saved them money. A quarter say they specifically chose Airbnb over other types of accommodation to save money.”