Friday, June 14, 2024

Wealthy Britons are letting out their homes to holidaymakers – but you won’t find them on Airbnb

Must read

Interior designer and former pop star Pearl Lowe rents her Somerset mansion to holidaymakers to cover the “extortionate” energy bills that come with owning a sprawling historic home. For Wiltshire-based therapist Juno Shears, the income from staycationers occupying her five-bedroom former hunting lodge will, she hopes, offset the costs of a family holiday in the Azores; whereas architect Adam Richards’ “sci-fi and Roman-inspired” own-build on the South Downs has, quite simply, “to pay its own rather large mortgage”.

Middle-class Britons have always worked their bricks-and-mortar assets to enhance their lifestyles: think of Edwardian landladies letting their attics to respectable lodgers; or early retirees, stretching their holiday spending power by home-swapping with their overseas counterparts through house exchange companies such as 1961-launched HomeLink.

What’s new is that very well-heeled Britons are getting in the action too: letting out their principal dwellings via vetted villa and holiday brands such as Sawday’s; luxury cottage stable Unique Homestays; and quirky bolthole specialist Coolstays. Partly, posh folks’ new readiness to open up their homes to paying guests is down to the soaring cost of living, with larger piles (with five bedrooms or more) having seen their annual energy bills rise in excess of £3,000 a year since 2020, and mortgages by tens of thousands of pounds. 

Partly, too, it’s down to the inflated cost of the luxury holidays this cohort enjoys. Luxury hotel room rates rose 34 per cent from 2019 to 2023, compared to the average holiday package inflation rate of 12 per cent, and in 2023 airline tickets were 53 per cent more expensive than they were before the pandemic, according to the online travel agent Kayak. 

The new “Sawday’s set” typically eschew economy sharing behemoth Airbnb, preferring to rent out their homes via curated holiday villa brands which offer a personal service for both holiday bookers and owners, as well as assurance that owners with pricey interiors won’t return home to a wine-stained Ottoman or stag-do traffic cones bobbing around in their ornamental ponds.

Latest article