The best Airbnbs in the UK and Ireland

For a low-key weekend break in the UK countryside, or a city sleepover amid the buzz of London, taking over a whole building via Airbnb is a brilliant option: lots of space to spread out in, no other guests to worry about and the chance to really live like a local. Before Airbnb was founded in 2008, tracking down a holiday home was much harder. Now it’s almost too easy – there are millions of properties listed on the site – but search fatigue can be overwhelming. Which is where we come in.

To point you in the right direction, we’ve started a round-up of our favourite Airbnbs – with one or two from alternative homestay sites – across some of the UK’s best places to visit, from the South West to Scotland. They are all in beautiful settings – by the sea, in the heart of the countryside, in the middle of buzzy towns or cities – and have pretty interiors and excellent reviews. Although 2021 has proven to be the year of the staycation, these Airbnbs should still have availability as we head toward 2022 and beyond.

Tried and tested Airbnbs

Little Whispers
WEST SUSSEX

This annex to a private home in Lodsworth, a pretty little village of stone cottages and winding lanes in West Sussex, has been renovated by owners Rachel and Barney Rowe. Two bedrooms are clad in oak flooring, deep Farrow & Ball tones, Ralph Lauren rugs and antique furniture. Details draw on the local surroundings – vases are filled with pheasant feathers and lavender springs grown in Sussex landscape, there’s a print of nearby mansion Petworth House, eggs from the family chicken coop are left to use for breakfast. There’s also a treehouse (great for those bringing adventurous little ones) and a terrace overlooking the South Downs. Book lunch at the nearby, new-for-2021 Pig in Arundel for the full Sussex experience. By Sarah James

Sleeps: four

Price: from £400 for two nights

Website: airbnb.co.uk

Spinks Nest Cottage

HUNWORTH, NORTH NORFOLK

Cosy up in this charming one-bed cottage in north Norfolk’s beautiful landscape and lose yourself in its surrounding nature. Owners Ana Perez and Alan Flett have recently renovated the countryside den, bringing a fresh splat of colour with vibrant greens and earthy tones and decking it out with reclaimed furniture. The original flint of the building has been exposed as part of its stylish upgrade and vintage fabrics, such as beautiful Morris & Co curtains, animate the rooms. Venture out two miles to the lovely town of Holt and enjoy brisk coastal walks along the seafront, before retreating back for a snuggled-up evening in front of the wood burner. By Cordelia Aspinall

Sleeps: two

Price: from £220 a night

Website: airbnb.co.uk

HUNWORTH, NORTH NORFOLK

see also The best Airbnbs in the UK and Ireland

Cosy up in this charming one-bed cottage in north Norfolk’s beautiful landscape and lose yourself in its surrounding nature. Owners Ana Perez and Alan Flett have recently renovated the countryside den, bringing a fresh splat of colour with vibrant greens and earthy tones and decking it out with reclaimed furniture. The original flint of the building has been exposed as part of its stylish upgrade and vintage fabrics, such as beautiful Morris & Co curtains, animate the rooms. Venture out two miles to the lovely town of Holt and enjoy brisk coastal walks along the seafront, before retreating back for a snuggled-up evening in front of the wood burner. By Cordelia Aspinall

Sleeps: two

Price: from £220 a night

Website: airbnb.co.uk

The Old Grain Store

WHITSTABLE, ENGLAND

This one-time grain warehouse in quirky Whistable was given a glow-up in the 1990s, when the space was converted into a house. Host Tanya has curated a gallery wall starring Iggy Pop and Jacques Tati film posters underneath soaring beamed ceilings, and thoughtfully curated a selection of art, ceramics, and books. The master bedroom is enormous, dominated by an antique French bed, with its own reading nook (Tanya can set up two extra camp beds in here if you’re a party of six). The smaller second bedroom is just as pretty, with the same whitewashed walls and floors that run through the rest of the house. Downstairs, there’s space for 10 to squeeze in around the dining table for drinks or supper. A 10-minute stroll finds you at Whistable’s thriving harbour, where you can shuck oysters from The Lobster Shack or drink pints of local Whitstable Bay Pale Ale at pub on the beach, The Neptune.

Sleeps: four-six and a dog
Price: from £180 a night (minimum two nights)
Website: airbnb.co.uk

The Sloop

PEMBROKESHIRE, WALES

The lovely south-western coastline unfolds from this traditional stone cottage. Overlooking a creek next to an estuary and with beautiful Sandy Haven beach at its foot, the house has an open-plan living area decked out in suitably nautical blues and whites and dotted with beautiful seascape paintings to mirror the natural surroundings. There’s a woodburner for cosying up and a neat kitchen for whipping up breakfast and supper. Spread out across the master bedroom and bunk room, and wake up with an invigorating stroll along the nearby coastal path. Make use of the bodyboards provided for an adrenalin fix or try crabbing before retreating back to your hideout for a peaceful evening taking in the glowing sunset.

Sleeps: five
Price: from £130 a night (minimum four nights)
Website: airbnb.co.uk

John Wood Townhouse

BATH

You can’t get more central than this tall, Grade II-listed townhouse squirrelled away down a quiet cobblestone street just footsteps from the ancient Roman Baths the city is named for. Built in 1748 by the same architect responsible for the Circus and Queen Square, it was previously run by the Freemasons – apparently it’s still possible to hear the occasional organ pipe and particularly loud high note waft down from the neighbouring Masonic Hall in one of the property’s ensuite bathrooms. Only available to rent since the end of 2020, it has interiors that are fresh and tastefully in keeping with the historic building – a four-poster here, an original Victorian loo there, and a couple of show-stopping huge round bathtubs to wallow in – though combined with some slick, modern conveniences, such as the electric oven brilliantly disguised as an Aga.

The housekeeper also handily lives just next door, and is on-hand to offer local tips or help with the house. The real wow moment, however, will strike you once you reach the very top of the third flight of stairs and step onto the spacious roof terrace looking out over Bath’s beautiful rooftops and famed abbey. (Insider tip: It’s ideal for those with little ones in tow. If you’re travelling with friends with babies, the three floors between the two basement rooms and the master bedroom mean new parents – or perhaps just seismic snorers – needn’t worry about waking the whole party at night.) By Becky Lucas

Sleeps: six, plus babies and toddlers
Price: from £506 a night

see also: Hotels by the beach in the UK: 15 of the best

John Wood Townhouse

 

Dom St John

EAST SUSSEX

Polish architect Marta Nowicka oversaw the reimagining of this Fifties former St John Ambulance station, footsteps from the main drag in the seaside village of Rye. Nowicka’s other properties include hideouts in Brooklyn and Warsaw. Here, details such as the tables made from reclaimed beach timber reflect the seafront location, and the master bedroom has views over the cobbled streets.

Sleeps: six
Price: from £400 per night
Website: airbnb.com

A super-smart Scottish castle

ARGYLL

A B&B for most of the year, this 16th-century castle can also be taken over for exclusive use. It’s set in Kilmartin Glen, near Oban, which serves as a jumping off point for much of the Hebrides. The old stone castle has been carefully renovated, so bathrooms are ultra modern with rainfall showers and copper baths, there are wood-burners in most of the bedrooms and there’s an onsite cook to enlist if you can’t face the idea of slaving over a stove.

Sleeps: 10
Price: from £900 a night (four-night minimum)
Website: airbnb.com

For more grand stays, see our edit of the best castles to rent in the UK and Ireland.

Douglas Gibb

Lary

ABERDEENSHIRE

A stay at this lodge amounts to burrowing down in the vast wilderness of the Highlands. Interiors have plenty of classic Scottish touches – tartan fabrics, antlers hanging on the walls – and there’s a board-game-packed library to hunker down in on rainy days. For a proper party, call in a chef to take care of supper in the grand kitchen.

Sleeps: 20
Price: from £1,000 per night

CAMPERVAN

NORTH DEVON

For those craving something very different to the usual cottage or stately home, this vintage campervan is exactly what you’ve been looking for. It has been carefully restored by host Ralph, and the cool-again checkerboard floors, Bush radio and retro kitchenette keep it pinned firmly in the 1950s. There’s a hot tub built into a heritage Land Rover for backseat soaks with a view across the Devonshire countryside.

Sleeps: two
Price: from £254 a night
Website: airbnb.co.uk

A sea-facing stone cottage

CORNWALL

This three-bedroom cream structure is set right above the waves in the tiny Cornwall village of Portloe, about 20 minutes from St Mawes by car. From the outdoor patio, there are views of the water and tumbling countryside below, while interiors are fairly stripped back, all nautical whites and blues, with a huge dining table for group suppers and a breakfast table overlooking the traditional white-washed houses nearby.

Sleeps: six
Price: from about £90 a night

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