Australia’s inaugural Airbnb Host Awards winners revealed

Some of Australia’s most welcoming, creative and big-hearted Hosts on Airbnb have been recognised as part of the platform’s very first Host Awards.

Celebrating the top Hosts, listings and Experiences on offer across the country, the Airbnb Host Awards aim to shine a spotlight on Hosts for the incredible work they do for guests and the wider community.

With categories such as Best Unique Stay, Best Designed Stay and Best Regional Stay, winners range from a luxury off-the-grid eco hut for two in Mudgee, New South Wales to an architecturally designed guesthouse in Hobart, and a 100-year-old former grain shed that is wheelchair accessible on the outskirts of Toowoomba, Queensland.

Host of the Year was awarded to Victoria’s Kate Quinlan, whose quirky 70s style campervan on her family farm near Daylesford has attracted rave reviews from guests around the world, especially for her complimentary breakfasts.

Queenslander Adrienne Penny won the Community Contribution Award for offering respite to carers by hosting free-of-charge stays at her Sunshine Coast beachside apartment, while retired WA helicopter pilot Cam O’Beirne, who hosts an Airbnb Experience where guests embark on an adrenalin-filled simulated rescue mission, was recognised for Most Magical Experience. 

Winning Hosts were selected based on extensive Airbnb data, guest scores and reviews, with oversight from a panel of judges that included renowned interior stylist and makeover king Steve Cordony and expert Superhost Merrydith Callegari, who sits on Airbnb’s esteemed global Host Advisory Board. 

Cordony said the quality and breadth of finalists was impressive, making it a difficult task to review and score Hosts.

“It was an honour to be involved in Airbnb’s first-ever Host Awards and to be asked to choose a winner for an incredible array of finalists across the country. The attention-to-detail and the genuine passion conveyed by each Host, regardless of their category, is what makes Airbnb so unique,” Mr Cordony said.

“It is clear that guests have come away with unforgettable travel memories, thanks to the attention to detail these Hosts have put into the guest experience. It was difficult to judge, but the winners are excellent examples of what it means to be a Host on Airbnb.”

Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, said: 

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to recognise and reward Hosts who continue to go above and beyond for guests and their communities.

“Every day, Hosts offer one-of-a-kind stays and unique experiences that make it possible for guests to experience the world in a more authentic, connected way.

“It’s fantastic to see that all corners of the country are covered, with winning Hosts hailing from Yallingup in Western Australia, down to Tasmania and up to regional Queensland. There’s also a range of price points, from luxe listings to tiny homes and everything in between.

“These Hosts exemplify how hosting can be a meaningful and rewarding experience that also benefits the wider community. We recently announced a new, simplified process for becoming a Host in just 10 steps, meaning it’s never been easier to not only earn an income from your home or spare room but to make a valuable contribution to your local area by channelling visitor dollars into small businesses.”

Please find the full list of award finalists at


HOST OF THE YEAR – recognising Hosts who have gone above and beyond to ensure guests have an amazing stay

WINNER: Kate Quinlan, Eganstown VIC

ABOUT THE HOST: Kate decided to try hosting after travelling as a guest extensively on Airbnb. She lives on an historic farm, once owned by her great-great-grandfather that dates back to 1848. Kate has two listings on the property, including a rejuvenated nine-metre Viscount Royal Caravan with a deck that overlooks farmland and bush. Kate is not only renowned for making guests a delicious complimentary breakfast with trimmings including homemade jam and freshly baked bread, but also leaves thoughtful touches like balloons and fresh flowers for couples celebrating anniversaries and birthdays.

JUDGE MERRYDITH CALLEGARI: “Kate uses her extensive love of travelling to guide her decisions about her two listings. She fosters a sense of continuity and history on the property. Each of her listings are thoughtfully stocked and furnished to set a particular mood. Each one is different but still provides a homely vibe, somewhere you can kick off your shoes and relax.”

COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION AWARD – recognising Hosts who go above and beyond not only for their guests but the local communities within which they live

WINNER: Adrienne Penny, Sunshine Beach QLD

ABOUT THE HOST: Adrienne began hosting on Airbnb in 2015 when her children had left home. With an empty self-contained apartment downstairs which had previously been used to host homestay students, Adrienne decided to take her love for meeting new people from different parts of the world one step further and earn an income as well. With more than 100 visits and many guests returning a second or third time, Adrienne’s apartment on Airbnb had become a big success. Two years ago Adrienne decided to host carers at the apartment for free – giving them a very well-deserved few days’ respite.

There are approximately 45,000 unpaid carers providing support to family members or friends on the Sunshine Coast. Adrienne first hosted a carer named Matt, providing a home away from home a few days a week as he cared for his wife who was unwell. Adrienne is a passionate advocate for Queensland’s carers community, actively encouraging others to host carers for a well-earned break.

Adrienne is also a Host leader of the Sunshine Coast Host Club and is renowned for always offering tips and tricks to fellow Hosts in the area. Airbnb Host Clubs are a great way to get insider access to Airbnb news, exchange Hosting advice, and connect with other Hosts.

JUDGE MERRYDITH CALLEGARI:  “Adrienne goes above and beyond the description of a community contributor. This Host helps her Airbnb Community by leading  the Sunshine Coast Host Club but her contribution to the wider community is what makes her a star. Adrienne seeks to earn a living from her listing but she also uses it to make the lives of community heroes a little better. She understands only too well how people who care for those with major health issues, become overburdened by their caring, and need a little respite.”

BEST DESIGNED STAY – recognising Hosts who design their homes in a way that reflects their inner personalities and passions

WINNER: Slow Beam, West Hobart TAS

ABOUT THE LISTING: Slow Beam is an architecturally designed, luxurious guest house with views of Hobart. Host Lauren set out to build something that would be comfortable and make the most of the views while also being “moody, glamorous and relaxed”. The black walls and ceilings were inspired by Brutalist architecture and also took notes from Hotel Hotel in Canberra. Lauren describes the style as confident, with bold choices and far from subtle. The windows are the highlight of the property – not only are they huge, but they allow the breathtaking views to dramatically contrast with the ultra-modern black interior. 

JUDGE STEVE CORDONY: “No expense has been spared designing this architecturally unique home. The dark and moody vibe creates a distinct contrast between the setting but even from the images, the space feels warm and playful. The nod to 50s interior with bold patterns and shapes is a unique talking point and creates the sense of being in a design museum. The showcasing of local artists within the ceramics and artwork is a great touch.” 

BEST UNIQUE STAY – recognising Hosts who have a unique and amazingly distinctive home

WINNER: Gawthorne’s Hut, Buckaroo NSW

ABOUT THE LISTING: Gawthorne’s Hut is located 5km from Mudgee on a big property. Hosts Rick and Steph used to picnic in the location of the now-hut and decided to build guest accommodation in the spot. It was designed by an architect to optimise views of the land but they also wanted to make sure they captured the imagination of guests. There’s a feeling of isolation when you get there – you feel the peace and tranquility in the off-the-grid property. They kept the facilities fairly minimalist (no TV or internet connection) so that guests focus on nature. Rick and Steph drive guests up to a secluded part of the property with a great view to watch the sunset – they even provide a little picnic.

JUDGE STEVE CORDONY: “The striking structure protrudes from the landscape in bold form but at the same time, sits lightly within the bush. The eco ethos instilled in every portion of the ‘hut’ makes it feel even more special, while still being able to enjoy life’s luxuries. The overall look and feel of the property embodies a sustainable ethos but remains design driven, inviting and soulful.”

BEST REGIONAL STAY – recognising Hosts who showcase the best of regional Australia

WINNER: The Grain Shed Retreat, Goomburra QLD

ABOUT THE LISTING: This renovated former grain shed sits on 830 acres in the Southern Downs region. It’s completely wheelchair accessible, as Hosts Neil and Bel also run an occupational health centre on the property. The property where the listing is located is called ‘Tarragunda’, an Indigenous word for ‘string of waterholes’ inspired by the local valley. Neil and Bel also work with local Indigenous organisations as there are some significant sacred sites on the property as well as some incredible wildlife, with wedge-tailed eagles often nesting behind the retreat. 

JUDGE MERRYDITH CALLEGARI: “This historical old grain shed has been lovingly renovated into your own private bush sanctuary. The interior doesn’t shy away from the shed’s origins, in fact it celebrates it. Although it seems isolated, shops are only a 15-minute drive away. The scenery is peaceful but dramatic with horses in the paddocks and a private waterhole where you can take a welcome dip when it’s hot. Neil and Bel show their commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture by working with them to protect sacred sites on their property. I also really love the fact that Neil and Bel were able to make this wonderful retreat wheelchair accessible.”

MOST MAGICAL EXPERIENCE – recognising Experience Hosts who, through their expertise and passion, have the ability to immerse guests in a whole new world

WINNER: Coasteering Adventure, Yallingup WA

ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE: Host Cam O’Beirne draws on 30 years of rescue experience to Host the country’s only coasteering adventure, creating a safe atmosphere for his guests to push themselves out of their comfort zones and get an unreal adrenaline rush. He has crafted an exciting coastal adventure that includes a blend of rock-hopping, shore-scrambling, swell-riding and rock-jumping in a dynamic environment by the sea. The experience is all about overcoming a challenge and conquering your fears, which he helps his guests do through his endearing dad jokes and his incredible rescue talents. He caters to young adventurers all the way up to those aged in their 70’s.

JUDGE STEVE CORDONY: “Being the only coasteering experience in the country, this is a truly unique, one-of-a-kind experience. As well as allowing guests to feel adventurous and get the adrenaline going (and even conquer fears), being able to explore the coastline off WA’s Margaret River, while learning about rescue missions and viewing local wildlife is exhilarating.”