Still Need Olympic Lodging? Rio Is Priciest Airbnb City

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  • Rio ranks ahead of Miami, San Francisco in Airbnb cost index
  • Rio Airbnb lodging offers just a 15% discount to hotel rooms

It’s not just Rio de Janeiro hotel prices that are soaring ahead of the Olympics. The Summer Games have turned Rio into the world’s priciest destination on lodging platform Airbnb Inc.

In a new Bloomberg index released Wednesday, Rio de Janeiro lodging on Airbnb cost $206 per day on average, exceeding that of No. 2 Miami and No. 3 San Francisco. A stay in a private Rio dwelling was more than twice as costly as Paris, according to the index of global cities with at least 100 local listings. It took average prices for two blocks of time that are six months apart and include part of the Olympics -- Aug. 1 to 10 -- as well as Feb. 1 to 10, 2017. Data were collected between May 1 to May 10, 2016.

Rio has a famously limited hotel stock, and many hospitality companies have scurried to open new hotels just to meet demand from Olympic delegations, leaving limited options for the hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists expected to travel for the Games. Alternative lodging providers, Airbnb chief among them, have tried to scoop up the rest of the Olympic travelers.

At $242 a night, Rio is the world’s seventh most expensive place to stay in a hotel, according to Bloomberg World Hotel Index, which was updated Wednesday and is based on Expedia data for double-occupancy rooms for two adults, regardless of star rating. When compared to the hotel index for the same period, the Airbnb price translates into just a 15 percent discount. Across all Latin American cities tracked by Bloomberg, the average discount is 42 percent, with Airbnb bookings in Mexico City beating hotels by 75 percent.

Leonardo Tristao, head of Airbnb in Brazil, said in an interview Monday that the majority of athletes’ families are staying with Airbnb, in addition to other tourists.

"There’s a lot of demand, but there’s also a lot of supply," Tristao said. "That helps guarantee that there’s a listing for any budget."

Airbnb said that of the 66,000 guest arrivals that are already confirmed between Aug. 3 and 23rd -- essentially the Olympic period, plus two days before and after -- average rates were $165 per night for a mean of three people. Asked at a press conference about the Bloomberg index, Tristao said it’s hard to compare global cities and emphasized that Rio de Janeiro is "very expensive" in many ways.

Other notably expensive Airbnb destinations in the index include Kuwait City and Dubai, while Mexico City; Bangalore, India; and Jakarta were the cheapest, with average rates of $32, $37 and $38, respectively. Fewer than 1/10th of cities surveyed had rates that exceeded 2.5 times their countries’ daily per capita gross domestic product. Noted exceptions include Lagos, Nigeria, at 8.53 times; Accra, Ghana, at 6.08 times; and Rio at 5.02 times.