The nation’s obsession with period dramas has led to a boom in ‘historical tourism’, according to new research (1) released by Airbnb, which reveals an estimated 10 million Brits (2) have travelled to a destination after seeing it in their favourite period drama.
British TV shows have encouraged two in five (40 percent) Brits to visit more of the UK than they had previously, and almost half of 16-34 year olds (49 percent).
The research also shows that Brits voted Peaky Blinders as the most popular British period drama of all time, beating Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey to the top spot.
- Peaky Blinders
- Call the Midwife
- Downton Abbey
- The Crown
- Pride and Prejudice
- Gentleman Jack
- Wolf Hall
The history (66 percent), the characters (60 percent) and the locations (53 percent) top the list as the main things Brits enjoy about period dramas, while over a third (37 percent) are tuning in for the romance.
With ‘historical tourism’ on the rise in the UK, it’s no surprise that British sites of historical interest are experiencing an influx of visitors off the back of popular British TV shows.
Airbnb data shows that bookings for Historical Homes grew by 178 percent in the last quarter of 2022 compared to the previous quarter (3), with over 90 percent of bookings from local UK residents seeking homes in more remote rural locations (4). Meanwhile, English Heritage, the charity that cares for over 400 historic monuments, buildings and places – and at which numerous period dramas have been filmed – saw its membership hit an all-time high of almost 1.2 million in 2022. Last year, Wrest Park in Bedfordshire enjoyed its best visitor numbers since records began, after appearing in Downton Abbey: A New Era.
Destinations Brits have visited which feature in period dramas include:
- Dover Castle (The Crown)
- Lyme Park (Pride and Prejudice)
- Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)
- The Garrison (Peaky Blinders)
- Chiltern Hills (Midsomer Murders)
- Botallack Mine (Poldark)
- Audley End House and Gardens (The Crown)
- Ranger’s House (Bridgerton)
- Painshill Park (Bridgerton)
- Blockley (Morse and Lewis)
“With decadent costumes and stunning stately homes, period dramas are the ultimate form of indulgent escapism. And what’s better is that you can make that time-travel dream a reality by visiting the filming locations in real life around the UK. Whether you’re a Tudor buff or a Regency fanatic, the huge popularity of period dramas among Brits goes hand in hand with our data showing the increased interest in Historical Homes on the platform. We are proud to help guests from all over the world discover the richness of British cultural heritage, and open up previously overlooked destinations to help disperse tourism – benefiting both local communities and tourists alike.”
Amanda Cupples, General Manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb
“Seeing our heritage on screen – whether in the cinema or at home – often inspires people to visit these historic sites in person. From the Battle of Hastings to the Industrial Revolution, there’s no substitute for standing on the spot where history was made. It’s great to see more and more people enjoying period dramas and seeking out where they were filmed. It’s also a brilliant opportunity to learn more about what really happened at these places. As a charity, the resulting visitors and the income English Heritage receives from providing filming locations means the great historic sites in our care will continue to inspire people, now and in the future.”
Kate Logan, Historic Properties Director at English Heritage
For those wanting to live out their favourite period drama, Airbnb also has a Historical Homes category. From an Old Windmill in Stokeferry to a 12th-century castle in Fife, there are approximately 9,000 Historical Homes listings in the UK alone on Airbnb (5). For more inspiration, discover a wishlist of UK Historical Homes here.
According to Airbnb data, typical Host earnings for Hosts listing Historical Homes in the UK was almost £10,000 in 2021, compared to just over £6,000 for regular Hosts (6). This is equivalent to over three months’ additional pay for the median UK household (7), just by hosting a Historic Home on Airbnb.
To learn more about how to become a Host on Airbnb, including how much you could potentially earn, visit airbnb.com/host. We’re always looking to improve the experience for Hosts, which is why we’ve expanded AirCover, with guest identity verification, reservation screening, and $3M damage protection, including coverage for cars, boats, art and valuables.