15 Airbnb alternatives in the UK to try in 2023 for a unique trip

Airbnb has really changed the accommodation world in recent years and I always loved how it brought unique and cool places to stay within reach. I loved to search for interesting places to stay when researching our trips – who knew what you could find!

You might be looking for some Airbnb alternatives in the UK if you’ve not found the exact property you’re looking for or maybe you’re like one of many who are finding the company to be a little unethical as it grows ever larger.

One thing about Airbnb that has changed recently is that it’s becoming a much more commercial operation. While it used to have rooms and homes that you would rent from a local, keeping money in communities and giving you a local insight, nowadays it’s much more people renting homes and it being automated with keyless entry and no contact made.

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Whatever your reason for finding a similar site to Airbnb, I hope you’ll love this list and that it will help your search for the perfect holiday accommodation.

Our Top Alternative

Quirky cottage in York
Image credit – VRBO


VRBO is fast becoming one of the best sites to find Airbnb alternatives in the UK. What I love about it is that you always have the entire property to yourself!

Another good option!

bed in a budget hotel in UK


While popular for hotels, Booking.com is also great for apartments and cottages like you find on Airbnb

They often have good cancellation policies which are essential nowadays!

While some of these sites are worldwide and can be used to find unique airbnb like properties, I’m focusing on ones that are great for the UK market in this post.

Handy guide to the UK Airbnb alternatives – bookmark it!

Grab a cuppa and settle down for a research session!


VRBO was originally called HomeAway and was a similar site to Airbnb in that it provided a place for owners to list their properties.

You’ll find that they have full homes, apartments and spaces that you rent out completely rather than individual rooms.

Check out VRBO here


While Booking.com is primarily a hotel booking site, and my preferred choice when I’m using hotels, it also has a number of apartments and alternatives to hotels as well which makes it a useful one to remember if you need something similar to Airbnb.

Booking.com is a large company and it means they have a huge selection of apartments, guest houses and B&Bs all round the UK and also worldwide.

Check out Booking.com here

Holiday Cottages

HolidayCottages.co.uk is a UK based site specialising in self catering properties all over the UK. They have over 6,000 on their site and they can cater for families, those with pets or any number of other requests!

All the properties have been personally inspected to keep them to a high standard.

Check out Holiday Cottages here


Plum Guide

If you want a curated list of approved and high quality apartments and holiday homes then checking out the Plum Guide should be on your list of sites to browse.

In order to make it in the guide the property must pass stringent tests so only the best are listed here.

It’s a worldwide site but also has a lot of very special UK listings too.

Check out Plum Guide here

Sykes Cottages

Sykes cottages is a very well known brand of holiday cottages in the UK and one I’ve used a number of times. They do all sorts of properties from rural to those in holiday resorts and towns. Whatever it is you’re looking for they probably have it.

They have over 16,000 properties to rent all over the UK

Check out Sykes Cottages here


Rural Retreats

A smaller company but with still over 600 properties based around the UK that you can rent you’ll be sure to find some unique and special airbnb like properties for you next holiday in the UK.

These are luxury and high end rentals and they are absolutely stunning.

Check out Rural Retreats here


National Trust

Perhaps not one that you would think of as an Airbnb alternative but the National Trust actually offers some unique and special properties to rent our as holiday accommodation.

Being the National Trust they are often historic and situated in the most unspoilt parts of the UK. They do book up fast so if you ever spot an ideal place get it booked!

Check out National Trust cottages here


Snaptrip is where to go if you have a last minute idea for a trip and you want to save some time by comparing some of the accommodations available. They have over 60,000 cottages and the savings can be pretty hefty!

Check out Snaptrip here



If you’re looking for places to stay that allow you to connect with the locals then this is the one for you. You can find a number of people willing to rent out their spare rooms and extra spaces just like happens on Airbnb!

It’s a worldwide company but there’s quite a number of places to stay in the UK.

Check out Homestay here

Trusted Housesitters

Ok this one has a tenuous link as an alternative to what Airbnb offers, but we’ve had such good experiences with it I wanted to add it in!

With this site you can apply to stay and look after animals and pets all over the world and there’s a good amount available in the UK too. You only need to pay for membership and the accommodation is then free in return for your ‘work’ looking after the pets.

If you know where you want to go and are willing to look after someones pets while you stay there it could be a great fit – we did many sits in the past in Scotland, London and the midlands too.

Check out Trusted Housesitters here

Cool Stays

If the reason you like Airbnb is the quirky and the interesting places it has to stay in then you’ll love Cool Stays too. With glamping sites, treehouses and many more on offer it’s a great place to browse and look for your next extra special place to stay.

They have over 1000 UK properties and they are all unique and special places.

Check out Cool Stays here


Flipkey is the Vacation Rental side of TripAdvisor so comes with the trust factor of a big name. In the UK alone they have over 50,000 properties listed so there’s sure to be some new ones to look at here.

They have all sorts here from cottages to apartments and even some boat rentals too.

Check out Flipkey here


If you’d like to book direct with property owners then Simply Owners is a good option as it curates a huge list of properties and while you book direct it covers you with their protection. Some people definitely prefer this as it can be an expensive mistake if you go direct and get scammed.

They have properties worldwide as well as lots in the UK ranging from apartments to farmhouse cottages.

Check out SimplyOwners here

camping pod similar airbnb

Unique Hideaways

With unique properties like shepherd’s huts, converted buses and cabins with amazing views there are a lot of amazing places to stay at Unique Hideaways. If glamping takes your fancy you might find some interesting places for that almost camping, almost in a house feeling!

These are based in the UK and offer what their name says – a lot of very unique holiday ideas.

Check out Unique Hideaways here


While this started as a camping site portal its extended into offering places to stay in the glamping category. So think about camping pods, bell tents, shepherd’s huts, caravans overlooking meadows – that kind of thing! Just like those unique airbnb listings.

Check out PitchUp here

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Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty Bartholomew is a travel expert and has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for over 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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