Can You Rent a Houseboat on Airbnb?

One of the largest appeals of Airbnb is its unique home offerings for adventures around the world. Rather than staying in a hotel, the homes listed on Airbnb not only give you a ‘homier’ accommodation, but they also provide you with opportunities to stay in homes and apartments, as well as cool places such as cabins, yurts, and even houseboats! 

With a wide variety of vessels and selections around the world, you can Airbnb a houseboat. You can even book more than traditional houseboats. They could be refurbished barges, yachts, and sailboats, too. The boats are securely anchored or docked for ultimate safety, while still allowing you to enjoy the swaying of waves and being close to the water. 

Whether you are staying as a guest or listing as a host, houseboats make for great Airbnb experiences that are memorable and different. Because they are far less common than traditional home and apartment listings in different rental markets, guests will want to jump on them fast, and hosts have a potentially lucrative stream of income. 

Looking for Houseboats on Airbnb

There are multiple approaches you can take when finding a houseboat on Airbnb, all depending on what you are looking for as a guest. If your goal is to stay on a houseboat anywhere, this provides you with a wider variety of options and potential accommodations. If you are in a certain area, you should cater your searches on the site to that specific location. 

When you head to the Airbnb site, you will be prompted with options for the type of experience you are looking for. We recommend selecting “Entire Homes” and then adding more information with the provided filters. This may first take you to stays nearby, which could be a great way to check out any houseboats in your areas for a little “staycation.”

Under the “More Filters” option, there is an option to select a unique stay. This is where you will select “Boat” or “Houseboat” (Source: Airbnb). There are lots of unique stay options to check out here as well. The options will pop up based on the area you have selected, and you can explore these filters in a variety of locations and for certain dates. 

Houseboat Communities to Check on Airbnb

We have selected a list of communities that are well-known for their houseboat accommodations. If you have a certain lake, river, or body of water in mind, they may also have opportunities for houseboat stays.

Here are some of the top locations to consider renting a houseboat on Airbnb: 

  • Sausalito, California: Located north of San Francisco, Sausalito is famous for its houseboat community. Residents live here full time and enjoy the beautiful offerings of the Bay Area. Not only are listings available on Airbnb, but walking tours take place annually to explore these beautiful homes (Source: Road Trippers Magazine). 
  • Seattle, Washington: Lake Union has a strong houseboat community as well that offers some nice places to stay (Source: Neighborhood Life). You can also stay on yachts and sailboats if you are looking for other types of boats! 
  • Portland, Oregon: One of the largest houseboat communities in the country is found in the metropolitan Portland area (Source: Hayden Island). You can find communities in the surrounding area as well, giving you plenty of houseboat options in the state. 
  • Austin, Texas: Lake Travis and Lake Austin are two areas where you can find houseboat accommodations in the south! 
  • San Diego, California: Local marinas are packed with houseboats to enjoy beautiful southern California. 
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands: Outside of the US, Amsterdam has one of the largest houseboat communities in the world. Miles of canals are arranged in the city, and most of them are covered in houseboats along the sides of the canal (Source: Holland Tourism). Some of them are over 100 years old and continue to be moored and modernized today. 
  • Berlin, Germany: Berlin, along with many other German cities, has taken advantage of houseboat living along rivers. 
  • London, England: The River Thames is extensive and runs right through the city of London. Many have chosen to live on the river in houseboats and rent them out to guests for a unique experience. 
  • Paris, France: You can enjoy the romantic Seine River in Paris while being surrounded by a big city. Many of these houseboats are converted barges that once traveled along rivers like the Seine for transport. 

If you aren’t sure where to look for houseboats, you can think about cities with rivers or communities close to bodies of water. The list above includes locations where people often live on houseboats, so you should consider checking these out for a greater selection of accommodations. 

Airbnb’s filters and options for finding stays is very easy to use and allows you to explore a wide range of options. It is easy to get lost while checking out all the awesome stays. 

Types of Houseboats on Airbnb 

Houseboats are floating homes that have been moored for the use of lodging or accommodation. Some are motorized, while others are specifically designed for mooring and connected for access to utilities. These are very similar to traditional homes, but don’t sit on flat ground! 

Besides a houseboat, there are other boat options you can consider renting on Airbnb if there aren’t any available or you want more of a boat-like experience. You can rent:

  • Sailboats
  • Yachts 
  • Tugboats 
  • Barges 

While these boats were not originally designed for living, they have been converted to make your Airbnb experience enjoyable! Keep in mind that many of these will not be particularly spacious, especially if you are staying in smaller boats. 

Why Stay in a Houseboat on Airbnb? 

Traditional traveling accommodations, including a hotel or apartment, are great options depending on what you are looking for. The reason you should consider renting a houseboat on Airbnb is for the unique experience it will provide. There are few opportunities to sleep in your own private floating home for the night, and Airbnb has made that possible. 

Houseboats are also great options for the location they provide. In some locations, you may have access to paddleboards or kayaks to enjoy the surrounding area. In big cities, houseboats may be centrally located to enjoy the sites and have access to the city center. The versatility of a houseboat, depending on the location, gives you a different experience each time. 

You could stay in a houseboat in a rural area and then stay in one in a big city and have an entirely different experience. While an apartment may be fairly standard each time, checking out houseboats in different locations can provide you with both a place to sleep and an outdoor adventure (with a magnificent view!).

Tips for Booking on Airbnb

Whether you decide to stay in a houseboat or not, there are some more general tips you should know to get the most out of your Airbnb experience. Whether you are a regular user on the platform or are trying it out for your first time, you can save money and improve your experience by following a few important guidelines. 

Try these tricks for maximizing the quality and opportunities while renting on Airbnb: 

  • Fill out your profile: Filling out your profile and verifying your identity makes you a greater candidate to be approved by hosts and qualify for automatic bookings (no approval required). Not only does it give more information about what kind of guest you will be, but it gives hosts the ability to look at reviews that have been given for you (Source: Forbes). Keep a good guest rating to ensure you can book the places you want! 
  • Consider longer stays: If you are going to be in a location for a longer time, look at the policy on weekly and monthly rates. There may be discounts available if you commit to staying at one Airbnb for an extended period. You can contact the host if this information is not listed. We recommend building a rapport with the host before immediately asking for a discount. 
  • Communicate with the host: Asking questions and even saying that you are excited about renting a property can tell you a lot about the host. You’ll not only receive more information about the property, but it will speak to their helpfulness and their responsiveness. If you don’t hear back from a host, it may be a red flag. You need to be able to reach the host of the Airbnb while you are staying there in case of an emergency. 
  • Do your research: Research is the most important component in choosing an Airbnb. You should be looking beyond the pictures and the pricing. Check out the reviews (be aware that negative reviews may be underrepresented) and all the amenities listed. If you see something missing or have questions, send a message to the host. 
  • Consider fees: Make sure you select a date before dismissing the price. Different times of the week or year may have varying rates. Beyond the list price, you will also need to consider the associated fees. Airbnb adds on taxes, cleaning fees, and service charges. These can drive up the price of a place that seemed reasonable initially and make it expensive. Compare the costs with these fees to other accommodation options for the best deal. 
  • Look at ratings: The ratings are a large driver of who books a property because people want to see that the experience was pleasant, safe, and reliable. Listings with more reviews will tend to be more accurate as they have a larger sample size. Ratings are not the most important factor, but they can give you assurance in the property you are renting. 

Being diligent in your approach to find a reliable Airbnb helps to avoid bad experiences and potentially save money on the property you will be staying at. It may take a little bit more time to read the descriptions fully, but problems can be easily avoided by being thorough.  

How to List a Houseboat on Airbnb 

We also want to touch on some of the guidelines and requirements for hosting a houseboat on Airbnb. Not only does it allow you to gain another source of income, but you can share your eccentric stay with people from all over the world.

There are few requirements for the types of listings you are allowed to rent on Airbnb, which has allowed for unique stays to gain popularity. This flexibility has made it possible for hosts to rent out cool “homes” and experiences, including houseboats. For mobile homes, such as houseboats, the boat must be docked and secure in a privately-owned space. 

Because Airbnb is designed for accommodations, the sole use of the houseboat must be for lodging (Source: Airbnb). So, you can’t take the houseboat out for a ride during your stay, as this can be a major liability for both the host and Airbnb. Houseboats allow you to sleep and hang out on the water, but this is the only purpose they can serve. 

Listing your houseboat on Airbnb is pretty straightforward with a user-friendly interface: 

  1. Set up your profile: A host should have a detailed and verified profile. Guests may be looking for listings with hosts that are verified because it instills confidence in the guest for a pleasant and comfortable stay. You can also link social media and contact information to build your profile further. Don’t forget to include a picture! 
  2. Add your listing: This should include great pictures of the houseboat, nightly rates (with possibilities for discounts on longer stays), detailed descriptions of amenities that are provided, and descriptions of the home. Airbnb guides you through this process to create a complete listing and will advise on pricing and rates based on the location and features. 
  3. Book guests: Managing guest bookings not only makes you money, but it builds strong reviews and an ability for you to book more nights. You can allow guests to book depending on their profile automatically or review before accepting the booking. 

After confirming that the houseboat is secured and only used for lodging purposes, the process of listing your houseboat on Airbnb is very similar to that of traditional listings. Airbnb wants to provide exceptional service and experiences to guests, so hosts must abide by guidelines to ensure this. 

Beyond setting up the listing and processing booking transactions, these are guidelines that hosts should follow to stay in good standing with Airbnb and keep their listings active: 

  • Accuracy of photos: The photos and the way you represent the houseboat should be accurate. Guests should feel comfortable knowing they are getting what they pay for and have reasonable expectations when they arrive. Failing to do so may result in the suspension of listings. You should also make sure that the location is accurate, so guests know where they will be staying (Source: Airbnb). 
  • Communication: Being accessible to guests to answer questions and make their stay more comfortable is important for your ratings. Whether you are physically at the location or communicating digitally, being available and responsive is crucial. Airbnb recommends you respond within 24 hours. 
  • Keep it clean: Cleaning between guests is necessary, and this fee is added into the fees for the guest. This goes along with an accurate representation as guests expect to come to a clean accommodation upon arrival. 
  • Accept guests: If you are available and a guest requests the houseboat, say yes! This keeps users engaged and happy. You can block out times that the apartment will not be available for rent on the website. Keep your booking calendar updated for the guests to book accurately. 
  • Cancellations: Especially as a host, canceling on your guest is highly discouraged. Unless there is an emergency with the home, the guest should never be canceled on. As a host, you also set the cancellation policy for guests and the fees associated with it near or before check-in. 

All of these guidelines will contribute to another requirement from Airbnb, which is a high rating. Listings across the platform should be reliable, and a high rating helps to reflect that. The more ratings you get, the more likely you are to book guests. Low rating averages may notify Airbnb to look into the property and consider ending the listing. 

Using Airbnb for A Houseboat 

Whether you are a guest or a host, houseboats are one of the many fantastic stay options that Airbnb provides. Having these interesting opportunities to enjoy on a vacation or a little getaway nearby keeps your adventures exciting! Houseboats may have fewer amenities than traditional listings, so be sure to check the description when booking. 

Both hosts and travelers should make sure they have completed their profiles to find great matches between guests and stays. This helps to build confidence on both ends in that the home will be well-presented by the host and taken care of by the guests. From there, going through the many listings on the site and exploring will help you find a great place to stay!

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