It Pays To Be Unique (On Airbnb, That Is)

In the past 12 years, Airbnb hosts have earned $150 billion worldwide, with U.S. hosts earning almost half. For over a decade, people have shared their unique accommodations, and guests have enjoyed these one-of-a-kind stays, from desert domes, windmills, lighthouses, trains, UFOs, and even a potato.

According to a new Airbnb report, from 2019 to 2021, nights booked at unique properties increased nearly 50 percent worldwide. With more guests booking unique stays, hosts are also earning a real income. Unique listings earned almost $1 billion in 2021, garnering higher earnings than traditional Airbnb accommodations during the same period.

Tiny but Mighty Earnings

While you'll find numerous treehouses and barns listed and often booked on Airbnb, tiny homes are the most reserved listing type worldwide. In 2021, more than 2.5 million nights were booked in tiny homes alone. Hosts know that there's nothing tiny about this income stream. These hosts earned more than $195 million in 2021 – the top grossing unique accommodation type on Airbnb.

Ellis, a former travel nomad turned Airbnb host, called everywhere from Mexico to Sri Lanka home. Then, when he hit his mid-20s, he wanted to put down some roots while still earning some passive income to help support future travels. So he invested in land in the heart of Idaho and spent the next five years building his own tiny house. Ellis listed it on Airbnb in 2019, and in that time, the property paid for itself.

Unique Accommodation Hosts

Many of Airbnb's unique stay hosts worldwide are over 50, and most are women. In the U.S., half of these hosts were aged 50+, and more than six in 10 were women. The result? This accommodation type averages 4.8 out of 5-star reviews, with shepherd's huts, barns, and trains receiving the highest reviews on average.

Lawrene, an actress, weaver, and former lighthouse keeper, is one such host in Florence, Canada. After enjoying an Airbnb stay in Brooklyn, Lawrene wondered what it would be like to try hosting herself. She now shares the off-grid space she and her husband built for themselves ten years earlier, right in their backyard with Airbnb guests.

She convinced her husband to list the space by assuring him hardly anyone would be interested in their rustic escape. But, to their surprise, they have welcomed a steady stream of outdoor enthusiasts and leave-no-trace campers who enjoy the peaceful getaway – and the homemade waffles Lawrene prepares them for breakfast.

Unique Accommodation Guests

By contrast, guests booking this type of property skew younger. In the U.S., more than eight in 10 of these guests are under 50, with nearly seven in 10 being women.  Sanjana is one such younger female guest who stayed in a tiny home in the desert area surrounding Joshua Tree National Park.

“Staying in a tiny home exposed me to desert living as no other place could have done. I saw amazing sunsets, watched animals burrow into their homes for the night, and witnessed the beauty of its silence,” said Sanjana Vig, physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, entrepreneur, and founder of The Female Professional. “It was an immersive, one-of-a-kind experience that only a unique property can provide.”

After lockdowns and travel restrictions, people were looking to get away during this period, often out in nature. These unique stays not only were a welcome break from monotony but provided those once-in-a-lifetime adventures travelers were craving. Just like Karee, and her husband, who booked a barn stay an hour outside of Seattle. 

“About six months into 2020, my husband and I were feeling cooped up after being quarantined in the house for so long and booked a converted horse barn on Airbnb,” said Karee Blunt, Founder of Our Woven Journey. We wanted someplace private away from others, and this unique property out in the country on beautiful wooden acreage was perfect for what we were looking for. There were plenty of traditional options available, but how often do you get to stay in a converted horse barn?”

Travelers Are Wishing for Unique Stays

When not booking these accommodations, guests daydream about unique getaways.  In 2021, travelers added unique Airbnb listings to almost 20 million wishlists worldwide.

Tucked away in a serene and leafy neighborhood in East Point, Georgia, sits the most wish-listed unique Airbnb listing in the world. A beautifully appointed treehouse hosted by Darrel, with all the rustic trimmings but plenty of modern considerations, from a hot tub to indoor heated spaces, is a cozy stay.

And treehouses are only the start, as the most wish-listed unique homes around the globe also include a Mushroom Dome Retreat in California, a Redwood Treehouse in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a historic tower in Umbria, Italy, a Stone Villa in Crete, Greece, a Prussian Church in Germany, and a castle in Galway, Ireland.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Courtesy of Airbnb.


Monica Fish helps her fellow adventurers live a financially savvy life so they can travel and explore our beautiful world no matter their budget. She writes about smart timeshare ownership, vacation tips and tricks, NYC Metro Area trips and activities, and frugal, yet rich, living at PlannerAtHeart.com.