Short-term lets through online collaborative economy platforms, UK: Quarter 4 2023

The number of guest nights, nights, and stays for short-term lets offered via online collaborative economy platforms (Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia Group).

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Release date:
30 May 2024

Next release:
November 2024

1. Main points

  • In Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2023, there were nearly 1.9 million stays in UK short-term lets booked through the three online collaborative economy platforms participating in this report (Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia Group); this totalled nearly 18.1 million guest nights.

  • In Quarter 4 2023, around two-thirds (63.7%) of guest nights were by UK domestic visitors, while 36.3% were by international visitors; Northern Ireland had the highest proportion of international guest nights (40.0%) out of the UK countries.

  • The most common countries of origin for international guest nights of short-term lets in the UK in Quarter 4 2023 were USA (17.4%), "Asia Other" (10.3%), and France (8.8%).

  • The local administrative units (LAUs) in the UK with the highest number of total guest nights in Quarter 4 2023 were Westminster (891,450), City of Edinburgh (647,670), and Kensington and Chelsea (447,600).

  • The number of hosts in the UK across the three platforms ranged from 289,560 in January 2023 to 358,940 in December 2023; however, this is likely to be an overcount because of the same host listing the same property across multiple platforms.

  • The number of guest nights decreased in the UK by 37.3% from Quarter 3 (July to Sept) to Quarter 4 2023, decreasing in each UK country, which is to be expected with the seasonal trend of moving from the busier summer months into autumn.

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These are official statistics in development and we advise caution when using the data. The data source is currently under development. Read more in Section 8: Measuring the data.

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2. Nights, guest nights, and stays

In this bulletin, short-term lets refers to rentals, such as apartments or rooms, booked through Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia Group, excluding other forms of accommodation, such as hotels or campsites. We have more statistics about travel and tourism on our website.

This analysis provides aggregated data from three large online collaborative economy platforms (Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia Group) on the number of guest nights, nights and stays spent in short-term lets offered via online platforms during Quarter 3 (July to Sept) to Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2023. In this release, we also publish data on the number of hosts for each calendar month of 2023.

The number of guest nights accounts for the number of nights spent during a stay multiplied by the number of visitors in the travel party. This can be influenced by guest group size and length of stay. For example, a group of four staying for two nights would be eight guest nights, but one guest staying for two nights would be two guest nights. The number of nights refers to the number of nights a property or room offered by the platforms was occupied; the number of stays refers to the number of times a facility offered by the platforms was occupied.

Between October and December 2023, there were nearly 18.1 million guest nights spent in accommodation booked through one of the three platforms in the UK across 1.9 million stays. The number of guest nights decreased in the UK by 37.3% since Quarter 3 2023 (28,876,830). All UK countries saw a decrease, which is to be expected with the seasonal trend of moving from the busier summer months into autumn.

The change in the number of guest nights between seasons (quarters) varies by geographical area. Scotland was the UK country that had the biggest decrease between Quarter 3 and 4 2023, by 53.3%, while England had the smallest decrease (32.2%). At the International Territorial Level 1 (ITL1) within England, the smallest seasonal change was found in London (decreased by 6.6% between Quarter 3 and 4 2023) and the largest was found in the South West (decreased by 56.2% between Quarter 3 and 4 2023).

This bulletin focuses on the number of guest nights, unless otherwise stated, and provides analysis at the national, country, and local administrative unit (LAU) level in the UK. LAUs are broadly comparable with local authority districts in the UK; however, there are some differences. While in Northern Ireland and Wales, LAUs and local authorities are the same, for England and Scotland, some local authorities are split up further as LAUs. Data for LAUs and ITLs are available in the accompanying dataset. See our International geographies explainer for more information on ITLs.

Figure 2: Number of guest nights, nights and stays, by local administrative unit, UK, Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2023

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3. Guest nights by country of origin

Proportion of domestic and international guest nights

In the UK in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2023, around two-thirds (63.7%) of all guest nights were by UK domestic visitors and 36.3% were international visitors. This is similar to the summer months in Quarter 3.

Of the four UK countries in Quarter 4 2023, Wales had the highest proportion of domestic guest nights (90.1%) and the lowest proportion of international guest nights (9.9%). In Scotland, 62.2% of guest nights were by domestic visitors, similar to England (62.1%). Northern Ireland had the lowest proportion of domestic guest nights (60.0%) and the highest proportion of international guest nights (40.0%). The proportion of international guest nights in Northern Ireland may be slightly higher because of guests visiting across the land border from the Republic of Ireland. Visitors from the Republic of Ireland made up around a third (37.8%) of the international guest nights in Northern Ireland (15.1% of all guest nights).

In Quarter 4 2023, the majority (352 out of 388 local administrative units (LAUs)) had a higher proportion of domestic guest nights than international guest nights. The three areas with the largest proportion of domestic guest nights in each country are as follows:

  • East Lindsey (96.0%), Scarborough (95.9%), and North Norfolk (95.8%) in England

  • Dumfries and Galloway (91.6%), Arran and Cumbrae (89.1%), and North East Moray (88.2%) in Scotland

  • Isle of Anglesey (94.9%), Powys (94.0%), and Pembrokeshire (93.9%) in Wales

  • Causeway Coast and Glens (70.2%), Fermanagh and Omagh (68.4%), and Ards and North Down (68.3%) in Northern Ireland

Figure 3: Proportion of guest nights by country of origin, by local administrative unit, UK, Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2023

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In England and Scotland, some LAUs had a larger proportion of guest nights from international guests than domestic guests in Quarter 4 2023. The three areas with the largest proportion of international guest nights in each country are as follows:

  • Kensington and Chelsea (87.2%), Westminster (87.0%), and Camden (82.8%) in England

  • City of Edinburgh (59.5%), Skye and Lochalsh (56.2%), and Glasgow City (45.1%) in Scotland

  • Cardiff (22.4%), Swansea (16.0%), and Vale of Glamorgan (13.1%) in Wales

  • Belfast (48.2%), Derry City and Strabane (44.7%), and Antrim and Newtownabbey (37.7%) in Northern Ireland

In Belfast, 32.6% of international visitors were from the Republic of Ireland, alongside 41.3% of visitors to Derry City and Strabane and 38.4% to Antrim and Newtownabbey.

Scotland had the largest change in the proportion of guest nights by domestic visitors between Quarter 3 (48.0%) and Quarter 4 (62.2%), rising by 14.2 percentage points. However, as Scotland had the largest decrease in guest nights overall, this is likely because of the drop in international guest nights after the busier Quarter 3 season. There were also increases in the proportion of domestic guest nights in Wales by 4.8 percentage points and Northern Ireland by 2.2 percentage points. England was the only UK country that had a decrease in the proportion of guest nights by domestic visitors between Quarter 3 (64.6%) and Quarter 4 (62.1%).

Figure 4: Between Quarter 3 and Quarter 4, Scotland had the highest increase in the proportion of domestic guest nights

Proportion of guest nights by origin of the guest, Quarter 3 (July to Sept) and Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2023, by UK country

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There were some large increases in the percentage of domestic guest nights at the LAU level between Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 2023. Inverness and Nairn, in Scotland, had the largest increase by 28.0 percentage points (33.7% to 61.6%). In England, Bath and North East Somerset and Erewash both increased by 18.1 percentage points (59.5% to 77.6% and 69.9% to 88%, respectively). In Northern Ireland, Lisburn and Castlereagh increased by 15.1 percentage points (51.0% to 66.1%) and in Wales, Vale of Glamorgan increased by 10.4 percentage points (76.5% to 86.9%).

Of the 42 LAUs in the UK that had an increase in the proportion of guest nights by international visitors between Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 of 2023, there were two that increased more than 10%. These were Hartlepool, which increased by 15.9% (7.3% to 23.2%), and Castle Point increasing by 15.6% (25.3% to 41.0%).

Proportion of international guests by country of origin

International guest nights can be separated into individual countries of origin. Overall, in the UK in Quarter 4 2023, 17.4% of international guest nights were from guests from the USA, 10.3% were from "Asia Other", and 8.8% were from France.

The USA was the most common country of origin for international guest nights in England (16.5%), Scotland (23.7%), and Wales (17.4%) in Quarter 4 2023. The USA was also most common in Quarter 3 2023 for England and Scotland, but Germany was the most common country of origin for international guest nights in Wales in Quarter 3 2023 (15.8%). In Northern Ireland, the most common country of origin was Ireland in both Quarter 3 (29.4%) and Quarter 4 (37.8%).

Figure 5: In Quarter 4, guests from the Republic of Ireland made up the largest proportion of guest nights in Northern Ireland, while guests from the USA made up the largest proportion in all other UK countries

Proportion of international guest nights by individual country of origin of the guest, by country, UK, Quarter 3 (July to Sept) and Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2023

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Note:
  1. Data in this chart refers to the eight highest countries of origin in Quarter 4 2023 for each country.

Across most English regions, the three countries of origin which make up the highest proportion of international guest nights are USA, "Asia Other" and Australia, but the order within these three vary. Exceptions to this are in the North West (Ireland replaces Australia), West Midlands (China replaces Australia), and London (France replaces Australia).

In general, there were a mix of visitors from around the world, but there were six LAUs where visitors from one area made up more than 50% of the international guest nights in Quarter 4:

  • Irish visitors to Fermanagh and Omagh (66.2%), Newry, Mourne and Down (57.4%), and Mid Ulster (53.4%) in Northern Ireland

  • "Asia Other" visitors to the Isles of Scilly (100%) and Erewash (51.7%); Isles of Scilly has a high percentage in this category but it has a low number of overall guest nights (230), of which only a small number were by international visitors (10)

  • Bulgarian visitors to Castle Point (76.9%)

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4. Number of guest nights in local administrative units

Local administrative units (LAUs) are maintained by Eurostat to meet the demand for statistics at a local level. LAUs are broadly comparable with local authority districts in the UK; however, there are some differences. While LAUs and local authorities in Northern Ireland and Wales are the same, some local authorities are split up further as LAUs in England and Scotland.

England

The LAUs with the highest number of guest nights in England in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2023 were Westminster (891,450), Kensington and Chelsea (447,600), and Cornwall (429,510). These made up 6.1%, 3.1% and 2.9% of all guest nights in England, respectively, with London areas overtaking Cornwall to have the higher share of guest nights in Quarter 4. Isles of Scilly, Oadby, and Wigston and Redditch had the smallest proportion, all having less than 0.1% of all guest nights.

Although Cornwall remained in the top three LAUs for the number of guest nights, there was a decrease by 72.9% between Quarter 3 (July to Sept) (1,586,060) and Quarter 4 (429,510). Only Isles of Scilly and Isle of Wight had a larger percentage decrease, by 81.1% and 73.2%, respectively. The majority of LAUs within England saw a decline in the number of guest nights (300 out of 314) in Quarter 4 2023 compared with Quarter 3 2023. All 14 areas that increased were urban areas located in West Midlands, North West, London and East Midlands, with the largest percentage increase being in Dudley, increasing by 17.9% from 8,540 to 10,070 guest nights.

Scotland

The LAUs with the highest number of guest nights in Scotland in Quarter 4 2023 were City of Edinburgh (647,670), Glasgow City (166,980) and Inverness and Nairn (108,860). These made up 32.2%, 8.3%, and 5.4% of all guest nights in Scotland, respectively. The lowest proportion of guest nights were in East Renfrewshire (0.2%), East Dunbartonshire (0.2%) and Clackmannanshire (0.3%).

All LAUs in Scotland saw a decline in the number of guest nights in Quarter 4 2023 compared with Quarter 3 2023, but some saw a larger percentage decrease than others. There were less than a quarter of the number of guest nights in Quarter 4 compared with Quarter 3 in Orkney Islands (10,330 compared with 45,080, 77.1% decrease) and Na h-Eileanan Siar (17,980 compared with 78,260, a 77.0% decrease), which are both mainly remote rural areas.

Wales

The LAUs with the highest number of guest nights in Wales in Quarter 4 2023 were Gwynedd (173,140), Cardiff (131,790), and Pembrokeshire (119,520). These made up 16.4%, 12.5%, and 11.4% of all guest nights in Wales, respectively. The lowest proportion of guest nights were in Blaenau Gwent (0.4%), Torfaen (0.5%), and Caerphilly (0.6%).

Although Gwynedd had the highest proportion of guest nights in Wales in both Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 2023, there was a decrease of 59.1% between Quarter 3 (423,280) and Quarter 4 (173,140). Only Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion had a larger percentage decrease in Wales, by 65.3% and 61.5%, respectively. These are all rural areas. Urban areas, including Newport and Cardiff, saw the lowest seasonal impact between Quarter 3 and Quarter 4, decreasing by 26.4% and 27.9%, respectively.

Northern Ireland

The LAUs with the highest number of guest nights in Northern Ireland in Quarter 4 2023 were Belfast (169,460), Causeway Coast and Glens (62,170), and Newry, Mourne and Down (31,520). These made up 44.6%, 16.4%, and 8.3% of all guest nights in Northern Ireland, respectively. The lowest proportion of guest nights were in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon (2.1%), and Antrim and Newtownabbey (2.1%).

All LAUs in Northern Ireland saw a decline in the number of guest nights in Quarter 4 2023 compared with Quarter 3 2023, with Causeway Coast and Glens seeing the biggest percentage decrease (70.7%). There were less than a third of guest nights in Quarter 4 (62,170) compared with Quarter 3 (212,400), although this LAU still had the second highest share of guest nights within Northern Ireland in both quarters. Although Belfast saw a decrease in the number of guest nights by 23.7% between Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 2023, this was the smallest percentage decrease in Northern Ireland.

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5. Number of hosts, bed spaces and listings

Number of hosts

The number of hosts in this section refer to the number of hosts of short-term lets offered through the online collaborative economy platforms, renting out one or more listings. Data on the number of hosts are provided once a year from each data provider (Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com).

Data from the three providers is aggregated to provide a total number of hosts, which means there will be duplication if a host rents their property with multiple providers in the same month. So, these should be seen as an upper bound and the number of unique hosts each month may be much lower.

Over the year, the number of hosts generally increased on a month-to-month basis in UK countries, with the exception of Scotland and Wales. In Scotland, the number of hosts peaked in July and August before falling to similar levels to the start of the year. In Wales, the highest number of hosts was found in December, increasing month by month besides a slight decline in October.

At the International Territorial Level 1 (ITL1), London had the highest average (mean) of monthly number of hosts in 2023 (68,778), while Northern Ireland had the lowest (6,818). See our International geographies explainer for more information on ITLs.

Figure 6: London, the South West, and the South East had the highest average number of hosts in 2023

Minimum, mean and maximum number of monthly number of hosts, by International Territorial Level 1, UK, 2023

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London had the largest increase in the number of hosts across the year, from a low of 59,480 in January to a high of 76,670 in December. Northern Ireland had the lowest amount of change in the number of hosts throughout the year, with 6,100 hosts in January and 7,280 in December.

Cornwall, in the South West, had the most fluctuation in the number of hosts out of all LAUs in the UK, ranging from the highest number of hosts in July (17,200) and lowest in January (13,570). Followed by Westminster, having a high of 6,850 in December and a low of 5,190 in January.

Number of bed spaces by listings

The number of bed spaces refers to the number of spaces for a person to sleep in a property, for example, if a property had one double bed, it would have two bed spaces. Listings refers to the advertisement of the property on the short-term let platform. Across the year, the average number of bed spaces per listing was 4.4 in the UK. Northern Ireland had the highest average number of bed spaces (5.4), followed by Wales (4.6), Scotland (4.4) and England (4.3).

In England, the East Midlands, South East and North West had the largest number of bed spaces per listing across the year, with 4.6 bedspaces. London had the lowest with 3.6 bed spaces.

For local administrative units (LAUs) within each UK country, the average number of bed spaces per listing ranged from:

  • 7.7 in Gosport to 2.8 in Oadby and Wigston, in England

  • 5.8 in Midlothian to 3.7 in Glasgow City, in Scotland

  • 5.5 in Blaenau Gwent to 4.1 in Caerphilly, in Wales

  • 6.6 in Fermanagh and Omagh to 4.3 in Belfast, in Northern Ireland

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6. Short-term lets through online collaborative economy platforms, UK: Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2023 data

Guest nights, nights and stays for short-term lets, UK
Dataset | Released 30 May 2024
The number of short-term lets offered through online collaborative economy platforms by visitor guest nights, nights, and stays for Quarter 3 (July to Sept) to Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2023.

Guest nights, nights and stays by country of origin of international guests, UK
Dataset | Released 30 May 2024
The number of guest nights, nights, and stays by individual country of origin of international guests in short-term lets offered through online collaborative economy platforms for Quarter 3 to Quarter 4 2023.

Hosts, listings, and bed spaces of short-term lets, UK: 2023
Dataset | Released 30 May 2024
The number of hosts, listings, and bed spaces for short-term lets offered through online collaborative economy platforms, UK for Quarter 3 to Quarter 4 2023.

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7. Glossary

Short-term lets

Short-term lets refers to rentals, such as apartments or rooms, booked through these three platforms, excluding other forms of accommodation, such as hotels or campsites.

Number of stays, nights, and guest nights

Stays refers to the number of times a short-term let offered by the platforms was occupied. Nights refers to the number of nights a short-term let offered by the platforms was occupied. Guest nights refers to the number of nights spent during a stay, with a night counted per individual member of the visiting group. This can be influenced by guest group size and length of stay. For example, a group of four staying for two nights would be eight guest nights, but two nights and one stay.

"Asia Other" country of origin

The "Asia Other" country of origin category includes all remaining countries within Asia, excluding China, Japan, and South Korea

Number of hosts

The number of hosts refers to the number of hosts of short-term lets offered through the online collaborative economy platforms, renting out one or more listings.

Domestic and international guest nights

Domestic guest nights are guest nights spent by tourists who are residents in the United Kingdom. International guest nights are guest nights spent by tourists who are non-residents to the United Kingdom.

Number of bedspaces

The number of bed spaces refers to the number of spaces for a person to sleep in a property. For example, if a property had one double bed, it would have two bed spaces.

Number of listings

The number of listings is the advertisement of the property on the short-term let platform.

Local administrative unit

Local administrative units (LAUs) are maintained by Eurostat to meet the demand for statistics at a local level. LAU1 areas act as a building block to International Territorial Levels (ITLs), which are an internationally comparable regional geography for the UK. See our International geographies explainer for more information on ITLs.

LAUs are broadly comparable with local authority districts in the UK; however, there are some differences. While LAUs and local authorities are the same in Northern Ireland and Wales, some local authorities are split up further as LAUs for England and Scotland. For example, the single local authority of Cumberland equates to three separate LAUs.

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8. Measuring the data

Data sources

Data from three online collaborative economy platforms (Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group) provide data on short-term lets to us at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Data from Vrbo, Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Ebookers, CheapTickets, Trivago and others under the Expedia Group umbrella are included as part of Expedia Group. We then aggregate the data for these statistics.

Data includes information on the number of guest nights, nights, and stays, as well as information on the country of origin of visitors in the UK. Data is provided at the local administrative unit (LAU) level in the United Kingdom, which is also aggregated to form International Territorial Levels (ITLs), countries and United Kingdom as a whole.

The data is likely to have a strong seasonal trend. In future publications, we will have UK data for other time periods, but similar international data published by Eurostat suggests that the summer months are the busiest. In the EU, guest nights in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) made up nearly half (47.3%) of annual guest nights (Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2022 to Quarter 3 2023). This means we would not expect to see similar levels to Quarter 3 throughout the rest of the year.

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9. Strengths and limitations

This bulletin is based on data provided to us by three international platforms (Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group). The data covers short-stay accommodation in the UK, offered by service providers through one of these three online collaborative economy platforms.

Only accommodation offered through the three platforms is included in this bulletin and dataset. It cannot be added to other tourism statistics on holiday rentals or other types of accommodation such as hotels because of potential overlaps. Only the merged data for the three platforms is available, individual data on each platform will not be disclosed.

While we believe these statistics cover a large proportion of short-term lets activity in the UK, they do not cover all activity, as data from other providers and platforms are not included.

The data we receive cannot be de-duplicated across the three platforms, this means that we cannot calculate the number of unique hosts or visitors.

The Scottish Government introduced licensing for short-term lets in October 2022. They publish Short Term Lets Licensing Statistics, with latest data available as at 31 December 2023. There will be differences with the number of hosts published in this release and the number of applications received and licences or exemptions in operation as published by the Scottish Government. There are several reasons why:

  • data published by Scottish Government is currently partial in relation to capturing the number of applications and the number of applicants who can provisionally operate without a granted license, as well as because local authorities work through a large volume of applications received by the October 2023 deadline for existing hosts to apply for a license and continue to operate; this means the statistics in the Scottish Government publication are provisional and subject to upward revision in future releases

  • data in this release refer to the number of hosts of short-term let accommodation listed by one of the three online collaborative economy platforms in Quarter 4 2023; the number of unique hosts cannot be identified because there will be duplication of hosts advertising their property on more than one platform, meaning our statistics are likely to over-estimate the number of hosts operating

In Northern Ireland, it is a legal requirement that all tourist accommodation providers must receive certification from Tourism Northern Ireland before they are allowed to begin operating.

The Welsh Government announced plans to introduce a statutory registration and licensing scheme for visitor accommodation in Wales.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) have announced that the UK Government proposes to introduce a mandatory, national register of short-term lets in England.

The House of Commons Library published a paper examining the growth in short-term lettings and measures to strengthen regulation in England. It also provides a brief overview of the regulatory approaches in other countries.

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11. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 30 May 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Short-term lets through online collaborative economy platforms, UK: Quarter 4 2023

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Housing Analysis team
better.info@ons.gov.uk