When Airbnb emerged as an early cornerstone of the sharing economy, it seemed to represent much that was utopian about the internet age: a vast network of goodwill, consumers taking control, adventure, culture exchange — and fair, comparable pricing.
Since the platform's official launch in 2008, Airbnb’s hosts have professionalized their act and raised their prices along with their standards.
But if there’s one benefit to pricier, distinctly not-your-mate’s-couch Airbnb rooms, it’s the fantasizing that they encourage. From the weird and wonderful to the reassuringly expensive, the properties in Airbnb-land are always worth a wander. Fancy a night in a storybook castle? Of course, you do — everyone does. Want to live the White Lotus lifestyle? The Renaissance villa from season two is at your disposal.
You can waste hours wandering those virtual streets. So, S Money decided to play travel agent and identify the stand-out stays around the world: the priciest Airbnb in every country and the ten most expensive in Australia.
What We Did
S Money searched Airbnb for the highest-priced listings in each country and then checked the top results manually to ensure accuracy. And we converted all prices to Australian dollars (AUD/AU$).
- Musha Cay at Copperfield Bay in the Bahamas is the world’s priciest Airbnb, at AU $88,800/night (US$60,000).
- Australia’s most expensive Airbnb is The Crypto Castle in Sydney (AU$24,861/US$16,798).
- The most expensive Airbnb in the U.S. is Cobb Road Daydream in Water Mill, NY (AU$40,551/US $27,399).
- The UK’s priciest spot is a ‘Luxury 6 bed Detached Villa’ in Stoneycroft, Merseyside (AU$16,124/US$10,895).
Whole Island in Bahamas is Airbnb’s Priciest Venue
Airbnb launched its Luxe line as the house-share equivalent of five-star hotel ratings, and every Luxe property is personally checked against a list of 300 criteria to qualify. While you can reputedly find a Luxe joint for “as low as $400 per night,” most reach into the thousands, and seven of the world’s ten most expensive Airbnbs are Luxes.
There’s some cachet to being the most expensive Airbnb of all, and the proprietors of Musha Cay at Copperfield Bay in the Bahamas claim it is “arguably the most luxurious private island in the world.” You’ll have five homes on the island to divide between up to 16 friends, and your all-included staff of 30 includes a butler, gardener and boatman. Whether entertainment is provided by the island’s owner, David Copperfield, is not specified.
North America: Hamptons Estate is Most Expensive U.S. Airbnb
There are 11 countries in North America with five-figure Airbnbs for rent. The region’s wealth of paradisal Caribbean islands certainly helps. Following Musha Cay’s top spot in the Bahamas is Cove Spring mansion on the west coast of Barbados. Whether you’ll want to use the cinema room when nearly every window offers a panorama of the flawless ocean may depend on the company you keep; there’s always the half-moon pool and bizarre modern art collection for a slow evening.
The U.S. must settle for third place in the race for priciest Airbnb in North America. Cobb Road Daydream is a sophisticated spot in the Hamptons, offering a pool, hot tub and tennis court amidst the sophisticated splendour on offer — the kind of monochrome showy-not-showy look that gives the feel of a Succession retreat for a mere AU$40,551 per night.
South America: Uruguayan Beach Home Defies Gravity
South America’s most glamorous ‘couch surfing’ adventures tend towards the beach or pool. Number one is Playa Vik in Uruguay, and it gives plenty of both: an exquisitely designed modern beachside home with an extraordinary “gravity-defying infinity pool [that] seemingly melts into the ocean beyond.”
Argentina’s most expensive Airbnb is a bit more traditional — or so it looks. The Moorish-inspired, “One Thousand and One Nights”— style castle is, in fact, a replica (celebrating its 100th birthday in 2023). Things remain a little more real in Suriname, where the most expensive room is an actual room in an eight-room house: “A small paradise, close to the city,” with the “Suriname river as a front garden and Peperpot nature park as a backyard.”
Europe: Swiss Ski Lodge Eclipses Liverpool Villa
In the UK, where the economy is tanking, Airbnb opportunism is threatening to turn classic seaside towns into “theme parks for the wealthy.” The number of entire-property rentals rose 56% between 2019 and 2022 (versus just 15% in non-coastal areas). But the most expensive Airbnb on the isles is a six-bed suburban villa three miles from Liverpool city centre, offering mod cons, hotel-style extras and a huge private garden for AU$16,124/night.
Europe’s most beautiful spots are not necessarily its most wealthy — and neither is price always covalent with local economy. Spain, Greece, Croatia and Portugal each offer warm, historical backdrops to Airbnbs that are among the continent’s most expensive. However, the twin Norte and Sirocco ski villas of Bagnes in the Swiss Alps comprise Europe’s costliest destination at $73,732 (including drinks and ski instructor!).
Middle East & Central Asia: Turkish Manor with Deluxe Interiors Wins Airbnb
The “magnificent villa on the shore of lake Issyk-Kul” looks a lot more luxurious indoors than out but does offer lake and park views from its floor-to-ceiling windows. At a mere $1,480 per night for up to 16 guests, this bright and airy space could make for a sumptuous work retreat if the Kyrgyzstan village of Bosteri is within travelling distance for your team.
But it’s an “ultra-stylish Turkish haven of wellness, rejuvenation, excess and decadence” that stands out as the most expensive Airbnb in this region. The proprietors are going all out on the ‘luxury’ ticket, promising Loro Piana linen, jacuzzi and cocktail lounge amidst this 10-bedroom Mediterranean manor on a hill: “Classically executed with Arabo-Mediterranean style, those timeless white arched, curved nave style ceilings and classically Turkish tiled walls for an exotic note, this imperial home fuses traditional and contemporary to perfection.”
Rest of Asia & Oceania: Australia’s $25k/night Crypto Castle
Indonesia is the country with the third most expensive Airbnb. The Hidden Palace in Ubud, on the island of Bali, comes in at $51,516/night. Combining the ruggedness of its jungle setting with a regal atmosphere and décor, this exotic villa makes the perfect venue for a mix of (wealthy) friends: those who seek luxury, those who’ll find inspiration in the textures and soundscape and those who are up for adventure.
Australia’s most expensive is cheap at half the price ($24,703/night) of the Hidden Palace and is the third most expensive in the region. The host offers few details about the Crypto Castle in South Coogee, a little down the coast from Bondi, which is owned by Finder founder and Bitcoin tycoon Fred Schebesta. Designed by Renato D'Ettorre, it’s a “winding sculpture of concrete and stone [that] blends avant-garde and industrial design with resilient stoicism in the most remarkable of ways,” according to one gushing profile. “You’re in the house of crypto,” as Schebester explains. “Crypto built this house.
Africa: Cape Town Spaceship Offers Outlandish Views
Africa has five countries with five-figure Airbnbs: South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Mauritius and Mozambique. At double the price of any other, the $25,906 Pengilly House in the South African capital of Cape Town stands out overlooking the Atlantic, with Lion’s Head mountain looming from the blue sky above. Spaceship-like concrete and stone architecture gives way to warm, luxurious interiors with views that put you on top of the world.
For an extreme glamping experience, try the Luxury Tented Camp in the Ohorongo Game Reserve — Namibia’s most expensive Airbnb. While it does look luxurious, that’s very definitely a tent you’re paying $3,428 a night for. The pictures reveal your neighbours to be an unrivalled population of wild and majestic animals and few people: “The vastness of the area (42 000 ha) is such that one is very likely to walk here where no human footprint has fallen before.”
Australia’s 10 Most Expensive Airbnbs
The striking architecture, beach top position, chef-grade kitchen and infinity pool should turn the eye of Crypto Castle owner Schebesta’s fellow Bitcoin millionaires. But those with more fame to their name might prefer the privacy of Makepeace Island Noosa on the Lake Cootharaba estuary for a couple of hundred dollars less: “the treetops and towering vegetation of the island’s shore hides a diamond-level experience, with the pathways and lawns of the island leading to a verdant blue jewel at the island’s centre - the shimmering pool, ringed by cool and shady thatched-roof outbuildings.”
For a mere suite in a complex, the $9,881/night King Studio Suite 236 at the Sea Temple resort goes out of its way to earn that price tag. The suite offers full air-conditioning, a ceiling fan above the king-size bed, an epic dual vanity ensuite and a two-person jacuzzi spa bath, all within lounging distance of the resort’s astonishing 3,000m2 swimming lagoon centrepiece.
From Digital Nomad to Island Hopper
The world is in the midst of a huge cultural shift about how and where we want to be. With purse strings tightened and sharing-economy apps under greater scrutiny, the appeal of Airbnb as some now see it — “staying with your cheapest, most uptight friend – and paying them for the privilege” — may quickly fade. But the appeal of finding a decadent four- or five-figure stay in a unique venue is undeniable. You can browse our full list of those in Australia and around the world below.
On the other hand, unshackled from our workplaces and schools, we may be entering a truer age of digital nomadism, whereby regular employees and their families drift from area to area in search of (affordable) novelty. “We’re seeing a little blurring between travelling and living,” as Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky puts it. So: Airbnb as a sustainable lifestyle or blow it all on the trip of a lifetime — where’s your travel dollar going?
METHODOLOGY & SOURCES
To find the most expensive Airbnb in each country, we first searched on Airbnb.com for the highest-priced listings locally, then manually checked the relevancy of the results. The most expensive Airbnb is the listing with the highest price per night charge.
For our analysis of Australian cities, we searched for listings in each Australian capital city, manually inspected the results and selected the top 10 most expensive listings in every location.
Properties determined to have unrealistic listing prices were excluded. Hotel suites, rooms and boat listings were avoided when possible.
We used Google exchange rates to convert USD figures to AUD.
The data was retrieved on 24th November 2022.