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What is best for holiday homeowners: Self-catering letting agency or Airbnb?

Letting with classic

In the current economic climate, everyone is looking to save where they can, and holiday homeowners are no exception. Here we delve into the pros and cons of a self-catering agency versus Airbnb.


When Airbnb burst onto the market in 2008 it was essentially a platform for homeowners to let out a spare room. The module has gained millions of hosts all over the world and now accommodates entire properties as well as rooms. We thought it would be an interesting exercise to look at the pros and cons for both Airbnb and letting through an agency.  



Classic Cottages have a portfolio of properties across the UK and each one is handpicked and inspected by our team of Area Managers. Guests expect the best self-catering experience, and all our properties include a welcome tray, towels, bed linen etc as standard.  

Airbnb have no standard list of items; it is down to the individual host to decide, and they can offer as little or as much as they like. Guests need to check carefully before they travel to ensure they bring everything they need. 



Customer Loyalty 


Classic Cottages properties are exclusive to Classic and will not be found on any other website, giving our guests confidence in our product. And, with a email database of over 100k loyal customers, many of our guests return year after year. An owner will have visibility via their Owner Portal whether a guest is a repeat booker to Classic and also whether they've stayed at their property before.

Airbnb hosts are able to advertise on additional websites. This will give an owner more online visibility for their property. However, it does require a greater level of management to maintain price parity across multiple online booking platforms. As a result, it is not as easy to understand who are returning guests and which guests have never stayed before.


The Guest Experience


Classic Cottages are based in Cornwall with offices and Area Managers throughout the UK. The Sales team are available 7 days a week with additional weekend cover provided by Area Managers and an out of hours direct line when the office is closed. Our dedicated customer service team manage guest issues either during or after their stay and handle any situation as arbitrators if required. 

Airbnb owners manage guest queries. So it is up to them or their management agency to directly arbitrate any issues. If a guest has an issue with the booking platform itself, Airbnb are based in America and support is limited to phone/chat and online support.




Classic Cottages have a team of digital marketeers and creative writers to ensure your property is described honestly and attractively and achieves maximum visibility online. When you sign up with Classic your property will be professionally photographed and styled. Once your property is live, we then constantly assess sales, update you on market trends and activate dynamic pricing to ensure sales are maximized. Our owners have their own portal to update availability in real time and access any new legislative information. 

Airbnb hosts create their own profile, write their own descriptive text and input their profile information, including updating availability and rates throughout the year. Earnings are estimated by reviewing similar listings in your area. Once set up, a property will benefit from the vast amount of traffic and exposure Airbnb have globally. They also are able to report on sales trends in the area and provide statistics for your property.




Classic Cottages local Area Manager will personally visit when you join the portfolio, discussing everything you need to know about your contract. Annual liaison visits will take place and you will always have direct access via phone and email. 

Airbnb offer guidance from a “super host” (a host who is already with them) in your area and have a team of community support agents available online. 




Classic Cottages charges a flat fee of 20% which covers everything from marketing, sales, managed services and arranging compliance.

Airbnb makes its revenue from commission charged at 3% to the host, with an additional 17% service charge charged to the guest. If a host chooses, they can pay both these fees, leaving just the rental for the guest to pay. 


Managed Services


Classic Cottages have a Managed Services team who can arrange anything from a comprehensive all-inclusive management service including everything from finding a housekeeper and gardener to organising linen and waste management, to an ad-hoc deep clean. And, with a 24/7 emergency line, should there be an issue, it won’t be an issue for you. There is no additional cost for this, it’s all part of the service. 

Airbnb hosts arrange their own cleaning, gardening, maintenance and waste collection. 


Guest Safety


Classic Cottages owners are compliant in all areas to protect both guests and themselves. This includes.

  • Gas safety certificates
  • Electrical safety checks
  • Fire risk advice.
  • Public liability insurance
  • HMO certificate

 We have a dedicated Owner Support team who are on hand to advise on compliance. Scotland has already introduced mandatory registration for all self-catering properties with Wales and Scotland due to follow in 2024. Owners with Classic Cottages are ahead of the game as compliance is already in place.

Airbnb hosts would need to find any relevant compliance information and implement themselves. Help on the Airbnb website is available from forums.  



There is no getting away from the fact that Airbnb are extremely an efficient way to market your property with worldwide reach. They provide support in the way of forums and are able to pull on a large amount of data to provide statistical information to help owners benchmark when managing their property listing.

Whereas an independent national agency, such as Classic Cottages provide on the ground guidance, professional advice for all aspects of your business as a short term let owner, and ensure both owners and guests are the agent's priority. The level of support will be tailored, depending on the owner's unique needs.

Like to find out more about starting your journey into self-catering letting? Call our team on 01326 555500 or email, we’d love to chat. 

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