Airbnb hotspots: why the Isle of Dogs beats Covent Garden

The Marais neighbourhood of Paris had more Airbnb guests last summer than actual residents, so what do listings in the UK tell us about tourism in the capital?

How do you judge which district of Paris, London, New York – any city – is the best to live in? Setting aside the many opinions on the subject, you might watch the tourists. When people are visiting a city especially to enjoy it, where do they stay? Until recently they had to stay wherever the hotels already were, so their choices told you little. Now however, with online accommodation sharing, people seem to be choosing to stay where people live – and you can get this kind of data from Airbnb.

Or you nearly can. Airbnb doesn’t give out guest data very casually, or, at least, it doesn’t to me, but you can learn a lot from its listings. Paris is the world’s biggest city for Airbnb, with more than 40,000 listings (compared with New York’s 34,000 and London’s 23,000). During last summer alone, 66,320 Airbnb guests stayed just in the Marais, a historic arty district in the centre, according to the Wall Street Journal. As the newspaper points out, that is slightly more than the Marais’s 64,795 actual residents. One flat in the Marais could easily host several dozen people over the course of a busy summer, so the locals were probably not outnumbered by guests at any given time, but still. The Marais isn’t very big and 66,320 is a lot of people.

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