What do the hosts of a wholesome farm stay on the Sunshine Coast, a homestead in Victoria’s High Country, a tastefully restored Victorian terrace in NSW, a home showcasing its historic WA locale, a design-forward inner city home in Sydney, and a renovated 1920s carriage in Victoria have in common?
They’ve all been recognised for their exceptional creativity, authenticity, attention to detail, and for offering unique hospitality experiences, all are recipients of Airbnb Host Awards in 2023.
Celebrating the top hosts and their listings on offer across the country, the Airbnb Host Awards shines a spotlight on exceptional hosts for the incredible hospitality they offer guests, along with the benefits they bring to their communities, with categories including Most Unique Stay and Best Design Stay.
This year’s coveted Host of the Year award went to Veronica and Colin Eastmure who treat their guests to a range of wholesome experiences, such as handwritten welcome notes, marshmallows by the fire pit, comfy robes and fluffy slippers, at their stunning Down at The Dale farm stay in the rural Sunshine Coast township of Conondale.
The space was designed as a romantic retreat to slow down and recharge in a little piece of hinterland paradise, with guests consistently rating this property 5 stars, raving about the location and the thoughtful touches made by both Veronica and Colin.
Veronica and Colin love to leave personalised touches and unexpected treats for their guests upon arrival so they feel welcome and can enjoy a sense of luxury.
“Our guests love the extra little touches they are greeted with upon arrival, and the outdoor bath and fire pit are regularly called out in reviews,” Down at the Dale Host, Veronica said.
“Guests can expect a romantic getaway with privacy and views to soothe the soul. We are passionate about promoting love and togetherness, and we want to make people smile.”
Judge Susan Wheeldon said: “Veronica and Colin always go above and beyond in making the guests feel incredibly comfortable and special with their thoughtful touches and welcome notes. I loved hearing about how they prepared a delightful birthday cake for a guest’s special stay.
“It’s clear that these acts of exceptional hospitality as well as overall attention to detail and quality is why over 180 guests have consistently left 5-star reviews.”
Meanwhile, The Cottage at Dunmore Farm – a circa 1860 homestead set on a working farm in Molyullah among the idyllic picturesque valley of Victoria’s High Country – picked up the award for Best Nature Stay.
The property is a beautifully restored c1860 homestead set on a 150-acre former dairy farm in the idyllic picturesque valley of Victoria’s High Country. Guests will find themselves surrounded by fresh air & birdsong. Rise to misty mornings, breathe in the stillness & bathe in the starlit nights.
“Guests can expect a truly rejuvenating rural experience, a place to disconnect to reconnect,” said The Cottage at Dunmore Farm Hosts, Bec and Angus McDougall.
“Nestled in the heart of nature, Dunmore Farm offers breathtaking landscapes, whether it’s rolling hills, grazing valleys, or lush farm pastures, not to mention amazing sunsets and exceptional stargazing opportunities. The scenery alone is a feast for the eyes.
“Dunmore provides a peaceful, idyllic country retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Depending on the season, guests can enjoy activities like picking fresh farm produce, animal feeding, or chatting to us about our restoration journey and preferences for sustainable farming.”
Judge and Superhost Sarah Huang said: “The property is a classic countryside cottage, perfect for those looking for an iconic farm stay in regional Australia. While the outdoor area displays a stunning showcase of local flora and fauna from sunrise to sunset, the interior boasts an impressive collection of antique furniture that pays homage to the origins of the homestead.”
The winner of the Best Design Stay (recognising hosts who showcase highly considered design throughout their homes) was Mister Munro, Crookwell, NSW. It is a beautifully restored Victorian terrace that pays respect to the history of the building while also feeling contemporary and fresh.
“I wanted to create a home fit for modern-day living whilst keeping a strong heritage feel throughout,” Mister Munro Host, Elise Croker said.
“Built in 1890 from locally made bricks and mortar, a tailor by the name of William Munro lived and worked in this stately residence approximately 120 years ago. Mister Munro was highly regarded by the local gentry for his expertise in the era’s fashion and, thus, the interior is inspired by colours and finishes which pay respect to the history of the building while also feeling contemporary and fresh.
“You can read the layers of history and the narrative of the building as you move through it. The home is a place to retreat, rest and relax, entertain and just be with family. It’s warm, textural, earthy and calming. It’s moody and dark in some places yet light-filled and bright in others. There’s a really beautiful relationship between dark and light within this house.”
Sarah Huang said: “The property does not only have a lovingly restored and captivating interior design, but also ensures that it reflects its history and original owner and tailor, William Munro in 1890. I love that Elise accommodates the guests and accentuates the historical features of the terrace such as keeping the fire going on arrival and having the record player available. It is a lovely touch.
“The winner of the Best Design Stay category is a visionary and talented host who shows creativity and innovation with an exceptional eye for detail, Mister Munro seamlessly blends aesthetics with functionality and evokes emotion plus nostalgia, setting the host Elise apart from the competition.”
West Australian Host Sarah Abbott won the Best New Host Award (recognising hosts who started on Airbnb within the past year) for her luxury light-filled loft located in the beating heart of Fremantle’s historic West End district.
The Orcades & Karoa host prides herself on offering a beautiful and memorable stay and has found as a new host, her guest-first policy is the winning formula.
“I wanted my property to be an embodiment of the West End district to offer my guests a connection to the area. Through the design of Orcades and Karoa’s interior, I share my own connection to Fremantle, a story of two generations of a family who landed in our port city after long sea crossings,” Sarah said.
“This story is told through the property, with all the hallmarks of renowned local architect, Brian Klopper, including a beautiful wrought iron black spiral staircase, triangular windows and vaulted timber ceiling.”
Susan Wheeldon said: “It’s clear Sarah is an artist. Her eye for design is impeccable and it’s obvious a lot of love and care has gone into this renovation, making it a charming stay for guests. Sarah’s appreciation extends beyond interiors and we love to see her championing the beauty of Fremantle by offering recommendations to guests to experience the town like a local.”
This year’s new category, Best Room Host (recognising hosts who provide a room for guests, allowing them to have the ultimate local experience) was awarded to Skye Lanser who provides a room in her design-forward Forest Lodge home in Sydney offering the ultimate inner-city experience.
Skye wanted to share her inner-city design haven and create an authentic, local experience for guests.
“I designed and renovated my 100-year-old terrace especially to share on Airbnb, so each of the spaces has been carefully created to provide an exceptional guest experience,” Sinjin Host, Skye Lanser said.
“I try to put myself in my guest’s shoes and make sure they have everything they need for an amazing stay. The rooms are full of quirky artwork, antiques, items collected on my travels, and lots and lots of books in my floor-to-ceiling library.”
Susan Wheeldon said: “Skye’s love for design has created a room full of character and is central to everything. While it provides value, quality stays like Skye’s offer guests choice when travelling to Sydney, while also providing the added bonus of design, modern comforts and ultimately feeling like a local.”
The winner of the Most Unique Stay went to the hosts of Steam: Renovated 1920s Carriage, Forrest, Victoria.
Steam: Train Carriage is a unique accommodation offering, with a wonderful past that will appeal to train enthusiasts, history lovers and curious types alike. “Steam is a romantic homage to the simpler and slower time – The Great Age of Steam,” Steam host, Fleur Leslie said.
“We have found guests of all ages have an affection for train travel. We haven’t managed to pinpoint exactly why. Perhaps it’s the sense of nostalgia, the thrill of adventure, or the dependable tracks that once connected people to new worlds.
“If only for a few days, guests can imagine the enchantment of a 1920s train journey, a different era, a different life – then we’ve created a unique experience and some unforgettable memories.”
Sarah Huang said: “The property is undoubtedly a unique stay and a rare opportunity to be transported back to the 1920s. The restored wooden steam carriage is elegant and exuberant whilst offering all the amenities and luxury touches desired by guests.”
The winning Hosts were selected based on extensive Airbnb data, guest scores, and reviews, with oversight from a panel of judges that included Australia and New Zealand Airbnb Country Manager, Susan Wheeldon and Superhost Sarah Huang (Yang-Fen) who also sits on Airbnb’s global Host Advisory Board.
“I was blown away by the finalists included in this year’s Airbnb Host Awards and the task of choosing a winner was incredibly difficult. It is clear these Hosts put a lot of love and effort into their listings and it certainly pays off,” Ms Huang said.
“The dedication to ensuring a seamless and memorable experience for all guests is incredibly special to see across all of the categories.”
Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, said: “Local hosts are the backbone of the Airbnb community and here in Australia we have so many incredible hosts who consistently go above and beyond for their guests and shine a spotlight on this beautiful country. We know that Hosts put in tremendous effort to ensure their listings are unique, curated, and full of thoughtful touches that allow guests to immerse themselves in a truly memorable experience.
“It’s fantastic to see that all corners of the country are covered, with winning Hosts hailing from New South Wales to Western Australia, down to Victoria and up to Queensland.
“There’s also a range of price points, from luxe listings to tiny homes and everything in between. Each winner offers something special to suit different styles, tastes, and budgets, and the Host Awards promote diversity across over 60 categories available on Airbnb.
“We’ve seen that the cost of living has created fundamental shifts in the way people are travelling and living, creating tangible opportunities for communities that lay off the beaten track. Domestic and affordable trends are seeing the benefits of tourism spreading further afield into regional Australia, and empowering locals to earn a living and make ends meet. It’s incredibly exciting to see travellers still enthusiastic about exploring new destinations and Hosts act as passionate advocates for the regions and communities they live in.
“These Hosts are also helping to bring valuable tourist dollars to local businesses and support jobs. Being a Host is not just about sharing a special place, it also allows people to showcase their local areas while having an opportunity for them and the businesses they rely on to earn extra income to combat the rising cost of living.”
Mandy has over 17 years of accommodation and tourism industry writing experience and is Editor of AccomNews & Resort News, Publisher of SchoolNews & Director of Multimedia Pty Ltd. She is a retired registered nurse with a 25-year NHS career that followed a few unforgettable years in hotel housekeeping.