AirBnb in Brussels

This is how Airbnb is really being used in Brussels.

Airbnb claims to be part of the «sharing economy» and disrupting the hotel industry. However, data shows that the majority of Airbnb listings in most cities are entire homes, many of which are rented all year round – disrupting housing and communities.

In this article, we will be exploring how AirBnb is being used at my home city: Brussels, Belgium.

Room Type

Airbnb hosts can list entire homes/apartments, private or shared rooms.

Depending on the room type, availability, and activity, an airbnb listing could be more like a hotel, disruptive for neighbours, taking away housing, and illegal.

I first wanted to have an idea on the distribution of room types in the city.

Room type distribution for AirBnB apartments in Brussels, BE

No surprise here. Most listings are for entire homes or apartments, which is what most people look for when on a vacation. Now, let’s take a look at the average price for rooms on each category:

Avg price for each type of AirBnB room in Brussels, BE

Hotel rooms on that price are not really attractive. Interesting is to see that the avg price for a shared room is not much more cheap than the price for a private room.


Airbnb guests may leave a review after their stay, and these can be used as an indicator of airbnb activity. This is how most metrics are estimated.

The minimum stay, price and number of reviews have been used to estimate the occupancy rate, the number of nights per year and the income per month for each listing. Everything is in the companion dataset.

AirBnB activity in Brussels from Jan 1, 2010 to Apr 1, 2020
AirBnB activity in Brussels from Jan 1, 2019 to Apr 1, 2020
Estimated Nights per Listing

You can definitely see a steep decrease towards the end there!. Covid-19 effects!

Some interesting questions worth answering are:

  • Do the number of nights booked per year make it impossible for a listing to be used for residential housing?
  • And what is renting to a tourist full-time rather than a resident doing to our neighbourhoods and cities?
  • How does the income from Airbnb compare to a long-term lease?

I will answer these on a new post.


An Airbnb host can setup a calendar for their listing so that it is only available for a few days or weeks a year.

Other listings are available all year round (except for when it is already booked).

Entire homes or apartments highly available year-round for tourists, probably don’t have the owner present, could be illegal, and more importantly, are displacing residents.

Let’s see the availability distribution from 1 to 365 days a year :

Year availability distribution.

Now, let’s do a pie chart to check the relationship between low (less than 90 nights/year) and high (more than 90 nights/year) availability:

High vs Low Availability

Listings Per Host

Some Airbnb hosts have multiple listings. A host may list separate rooms in the same apartment, or multiple apartments or homes available in their entirety.

Hosts with multiple listings are more likely to be running a business, are unlikely to be living in the property, and in violation of most short term rental laws designed to protect residential

Number of listings per unique host registered on AirBnb Brussels.

As we can see, AirBnb is not necessarily being used as it is originally intended. If you want to know more on the concerns related to these practices, read here, here and here.

Get the data

All data is available on

The python notebook is on

Below is the PDF printout of the Jupyter Notebook.

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Software and Data Engineer. Tech Passionate. Open Source Advocate.

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