Airbnb property owners reveal how much they're raking in from tourists

A second salary while you sleep! Airbnb hosts reveal the handsome financial gains reaped from renting out their homes to tourists – with one raking in six figures

  • Airbnb was founded in 2008 but has transformed the holiday rentals market 
  • Company enables ordinary homeowners to rent out their house or spare room 
  • Lucy Griffith bought a wreck to renovate and rent out after having her son 
  • Superhost now rents out four properties in London and Edinburgh
  • There are now more than a million Airbnb properties around the world 

Just over a decade ago, few had even heard of start-up brand Airbnb, founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nate Blecharczyk in San Francisco. 

Roll on ten years and there are seven million Airbnb properties available to rent worldwide. 

The  now-global company has successfully infiltrated not only the holiday market but also the house rental market, with homeowners who might previously have taken on a secure, long-term let, often making more morning from tourists prepared to pay a premium to self-cater.  

If you can make peace with the constant cleaning and can handle the odd duff guest, then there is, as the homeowners below show, money to be made if you leap over the fence from property owner to holiday rental owner. 

And you don’t even need to be lucky enough to have a second property, a spare room can rack up hundreds of pounds – sometimes thousands – a week in rental, depending on where you live.

The brand takes up to around 13 per cent of each booking, so a homeowner charging £100 would expect to keep around £77 of the fee charged to the guest. It’s worth remembering that Airbnb earnings are considered taxable income and HMRC will expect you to declare money made annually. 

Here, Femail chats to four homeowners who’ve mined a decent second income from renting out a second property or their spare room.     

Could you transform a spare room – or even a caravan inherited with a property – into a money spinner? This 1961 Bluebird static came with a property bought by superhost Penny Alexander, from the Staffordshire Peak District, and it now helps make them around £15,000 a year after they renovated it to a high standard

‘People from all over the world have stayed in my Notting Hill flat, including Lily Allen…’  

Clever move: Former BBC sports presenter Sally Jones snapped up a Notting Hill two-bed in 2013 after making almost ten times the amount she’d originally paid on a North Kensington property she’d lived in while working at the West London broadcaster

WHERE: Notting Hill, London

REVENUE: £25,000 to £30,000 a year after costs

Sally Jones says hanging on to her London home has gifted her a £25,000 to £30,000 a year additional annual income because she rents it out to tourists

Former BBC sports presenter Sally Jones, 64, invested in a two-bedroom Notting Hill flat in 2013 after making a tidy profit on a three-bedroom North Kensington home she had bought while working at the broadcaster’s West London studios.  

Living in Warwickshire with her husband John for the last 25 years has seen her rent the property out both on long and short lets before turning to Airbnb. 

Here’s she explains how she makes upward of £25,000 a year from renting out to tourists, and even celebrities.   

‘I bought my two-bed in Notting Hill in 2013 after selling the three-bed in North Kensington that had been my home when working at the BBC. I could see the London property prices going up fairly quickly and I wanted to keep a foothold there and not be priced out of the area. 

‘I also think rental income is better than a pension, as the property itself may appreciate in value so you get a dual benefit when you come to sell it. 

‘I bought the North Kensington flat in 1986 and sold it for nearly ten times what I’d paid for it – it’s the best investment I’ve ever made. 

‘I have rented out the Notting Hill flat on long lets and also for part of the time on platforms including Airbnb, where guests come for shorter stays, usually between three days and a week, sometimes longer. 

‘It is very popular with visitors from all over the world, as it is close to a tube, in a quiet, tree-lined street, a short walk from Portobello Road and the bars and restaurants in the area and close to the centre of London. It is also beside the Notting Hill Carnival route so we usually have performers and musicians renting it during the Carnival – visitors have included Lily Allen. 

Photos are everything, says Sally, who pays a London-based company to take care of welcoming guests and cleaning the property

‘Living in Warwickshire, I don’t have time to do the cleaning and changeovers after each stay myself so a friend who runs a friendly, efficient management company called LettsGetSmart organises all the cleaning, laundry and changeovers and deals with the guests when they have questions. 

‘That’s been a game-changer for me, getting in a plumber if a pipe bursts, getting keys re-cut if a guest loses one and helping me get good pictures of the flat – really good photos are crucial as they are the first thing anyone sees when browsing through lots of different properties in the area and they really help to attract guests to book your place. 

‘After all the costs are deducted, I probably make around £25,000 to £30,000 a year on this, which is useful addition to my freelance income.’

I spotted a dilapidated house at 1am and bid for it…and now we earn a six-figure annual sum from renting out Airbnb properties

Lucy Griffiths, who lives in Camden, London, rents out four properties on Airbnb and has made ‘six-figures’ from a project that began with her buying an old wreck to do up at 1am while breastfeeding her new son

Lucy says that her four-property Airbnb empire has transformed her working life

WHERE: London and Edinburgh

REVENUE: Six figures from four properties 

When Lucy Griffiths, who lives in Camden, London, gave birth to her son, buying and renting out a property offered a way to earn some money and enjoy her time with her new baby…

She says: ‘Airbnb was a wonderful way for me to dip my toe in the world of running a business. 

‘I was on maternity leave, and desperate not to return to my job, and had to find a way of making money. 

‘I spotted a dilapidated wreck on an auction website at 1am in the morning when I was breastfeeding and on my phone trying to stay awake.

One of Lucy’s properties on Holyrood Road, a short walk from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Lateral thinking meant that Lucy didn’t have to go back to her 9 to 5 job. Pictured: the road where one of her two Edinburgh flats is situated

Most guests are ‘kind and respectful’, says Lucy, and some return every year

‘Before I knew it, we’d bid for the property at auction, and started in the world of property renovation and Airbnb.

‘My son was nine-months-old, and very much part of the business from day one – guests would bring him presents from all over the world!

‘We haven’t had many dramas…we’ve been incredibly lucky. We market ourselves as a family flat, and so people are usually incredibly kind and respectful. We have guests that return every year because they like the homeliness and familiarity.

‘Five years later, we’ve made six-figures  in money, and now have four Airbnbs in both Edinburgh and London.

‘I loved doing up the houses, and playing at being an interior designer. If I’m honest, juggling the admin on a day-to-day basis wasn’t my thing, and so we now outsource this to our amazing virtual assistant, Louise. We also have a brilliant cleaning team and so I can step back from the day-to-day running of the properties.

‘I now run a second business, and work with online business owners to create courses. While we’ve worked really hard to set up the businesses, and it’s definitely not ‘easy’, but you can make money while you sleep. 

‘It’s a lovely feeling knowing that you wake up to sales, and you don’t have to just slog away in meetings with bosses and the usual 9 to 5.

‘I now run two businesses, and I’m still there for all the pick-ups and childcare, and that’s the great thing about Airbnb. You can create a business that works around your family and your life.’

‘It can feel like you’re on call 24/7 – but doing up and renting out a retro caravan has enabled us to live the country life we dreamed of’

Author Penny Alexander makes around £30,000 from two properties – a 1961 Bluebird static caravan and a converted barn – and says Airbnb-ing has helped her family live the rural dream

Penny initially thought the retro caravan the family purchased with their home would have to be destroyed…but renovation was possible and they’re now reaping the rewards

WHERE: Peak District  

ANNUAL REVENUE: £30,000 from a retro static caravan and a converted barn

Author Penny Alexander and husband Rik, and their two children, decided to ditch city life in Nottingham in favour of escaping to the rural splendor of the Staffordshire Peak District.  

She says: ‘We were looking for a taste of country living when we left suburban Nottingham to move to the Peak District and in order to get the views and the space we craved we decided to take on a disused B&B with two holiday lets, close to Dovedale and Alton Towers. We named it Mayfield Hideaway as it is hidden away on its own on a hill with stunning views.

‘We renovated a barn and a long forgotten 1961 Bluebird Senator static caravan in the grounds. Having been previously let, the barn just needed updating but the caravan needed gutting. Parents at my children’s new school recommended an amazing jack of all trades who has been great fun to work with.

What a view! The caravan offers a panoramic on the scenic beauty of Dovedale

‘Everyone told us to demolish the caravan but after our builder ripped out the insides we discovered the structure was incredibly sound. We re-insulated and re-clad the inside and had free rein to create an open-plan space with a new feature window that took in the amazing views out to Dovedale. I really enjoyed kitting out the caravan with trips to the local village car boot sale. 

‘Highlights have been helping people create the perfect situation…we’ve hosted engagements, honeymoons, and big birthdays as well as holidays for terminally ill children and guests struggling with stress and anxiety – as a writer of two books about children’s wellbeing it means a lot that the space has helped create happiness.

The converted barn that Penny also rents out alongside the static caravan

‘The lows? Washing and cleaning! Although over time we have been able to help create more jobs locally by outsourcing these. There’s the constant maintenance too. Airbnb can feel like you are on call 24-7 and it’s important to maintain online response times. The odd grumpy guest, but 99 per cent are amazing!

‘We were really pleasantly surprised by how quickly we picked up bookings on Airbnb and became superhosts. Friends were a great support sharing on social media and even booking in! 

‘We had no idea what to expect but we generate around £30,000 a year. We block out a few weeks and weekends a year to have the whole place to ourselves and try not to let it out when we are having a holiday ourselves. 

‘We are quieter in Winter but because both spaces are very cosy we still did well last year although we are closed this Winter to renovate another section of the barn which is super exciting.’ 

Penny’s book Create Your Own Happy, Be Happy Be You is out now, published by Harper Collins. To book her properties, visit   

‘We used old boards and doors from renovating a farmhouse – and made a tree-house that now earns us £10K a year…’

Farmer Mark Nieman used doors and floorboards from a farmhouse renovation to build a treehouse in the grounds…and he now rents it out to tourists looking for a unique experience

Mark says the eccentric property, which has a tree embedded in the living area, fascinates guests 

The eco-friendly approach – using old wood has also been a hit with visitors

How the tree-house looks from the outside: Mark says he’s hoping to convert an old grain store as his next project

WHERE: North Downs


Mark Nieman rents out a tree-house that he built with his own bare hands, a fact that surprised many of the guests who stay there. 

He explains: ‘I have had the treehouse up and running for two years now. It sits 20ft up nesting between three sturdy oak trees, is made of recycled timbers and has uninterrupted views across the North Downs AONB. 

‘I think after costs we make about £10,000 a year from renting it out. 

‘We used recycled materials because they were less expensive and looked quaint and charming. 

‘The guests who stay ask where I got the panels from and I explain they were old boards and doors from when we renovated the farmhouse – fortunately we kept them. 

‘We are in the process of converting an old grain store into accommodation and that too will use recycled materials.’

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