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A Man Spent $24,000 to Buy an Old Boeing 737 and Flip It into a Quirky Airbnb Rental with a Cockpit Flight Simulator and Hot Tub. Take a Look Inside. He called it a "fun, quirky project with a business twist."

By Joshua Zitser

Key Takeaways

  • Steven Northam, a British entrepreneur, bought an old Boeing 737 he found on eBay for $6,165.
  • He spent three months and $18,500 transforming it into a quirky Airbnb property.
  • It now includes a cockpit flight simulator and an engine hood hot tub. Take a look inside.
Steven Northam via Business Insider
Steven Northam, left, and TV host George Clarke, right, outside the converted plane.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider.

Steven Northam, a semi-retired British entrepreneur, bought the front end of a decades-old Boeing 737 on eBay for $6,165.

Plane being transported to site.

Steven Northam

When Steven Northam, 38, sold his company last year, he suddenly had time on his hands. An unusual find on eBay gave him an idea of what to do with it.

"The plane popped up on eBay and it just sort of piqued my interest as it is something different, quirky, and which, ultimately, could be a little business project as well," he told Insider.

He paid £5,000 ($6,165) to buy the forward fuselage of a 1968 Boeing 737-200, which he planned to transform into a luxury Airbnb vacation rental.

It would be a "fun, quirky project with a business twist," Northam said.

But buying a plane wasn't as easy as ordering groceries to your door. He used a haulage firm and a crane to get it delivered, which Northam said took nearly three months to arrange.

The plane was purchased from a college that originally used it to train aircrew. It wasn't in great condition when it arrived.

Plane before being painted.

Steven Northam

Northam bought the plane section from Chichester College, where he said it was originally used to train future flight crew. But it fell into disuse more than a decade ago.

Unsurprisingly, it wasn't in the best of conditions when it was delivered to Northam's home in Winchester, England.

"For 15 years, they just left it outside, sitting there, so it was pretty dirty and sort of worn out," he said. "It needed a bit of work."

In total, the cost of renovating the inside and outside of the plane was around $18,500.

Cherry-picker used to paint plane

Steven Northam

Refreshing the exterior and renovating the interior of the plane cost Northam around £15,000 ($18,480) he said.

Northam had to use a boom lift to paint the exterior. "I repainted the whole outside of the plane," he said.

Factoring in the cost of the plane purchase and transportation, the project cost around £20,000 ($24,679).

The interior was 'sorry-looking' and needed a lot of work.

Image of seats in plane pre-conversion.

Steven Northam

The plane, which was built in 1968, was originally used by United Airlines.

Over the following decades, it was used by French, American, and Mauritanian airlines, before being scrapped in 2006.

As a result, the interior of the plane was a time warp and was in need of a serious refresh.

"It was a bit sorry-looking when it arrived," Northam said.

He started converting it over the summer — a process that would take 3 months and which was documented by a British TV crew.

Inside of plane mid-construction

Steven Northam

Northam started renovating the plane in July 2022, working on it solidly most days, until September.

"I did the whole thing, single-handedly, a three-month project," Northam said. "Just me, on my own, essentially."

He started by stripping out most of the seats, reinforcing the floor, and recarpeting the plane.

The process was documented by the crew of the Channel 4 show "George Clarke's Amazing Spaces."

Once the seats were removed it was a 'big, empty space.' Northam started building sections to make it feel welcoming.

Plane being constructed

Steven Northam

"Once I took all the seats out, it just was just one big empty space," he said. "So it was dividing it up into lots of different areas, that was the plan."

He used stud walls to divide the space up, which would later become alcoves for beds, seating areas, and a kitchenette.

The refurbished plane has now been updated to include modern technology and home entertainment options

Seating area and bed on plane conversion

Steven Northam

It's fully equipped with high-speed WiFi, Smart TVs, and XBoxes, and the decor is largely modern.

It's also got modern heat pump air conditioning and heating throughout the plane.

But Northam made sure to maintain lots of the plane's original features

Seating area on plane

Steven Northam

Northam said that although the plane has modern decor and high-tech facilities, he wanted it to primarily maintain its character.

"I didn't want to strip it all out and convert it into a high-end caravan," he said.

Some of the features he has kept are the plane's original seats with seatbelts, overhead storage lockers, as well as the original restroom.

One of the many 'quirky' features is a glass floor that looks into the cargo hold area

Glass window in plane

Steven Northam

Northam said the glass floor looking down into the cargo hold is one of many "quirky" features that contributes to it being such a unique space.

"It's an interesting space that you don't see every day to hang out in, play in, stay in," he said.

The cargo hold area has a double bed, bean bags, and a media system

Bed in hold area of plane conversion

Steven Northam

In addition to the double bed in the cargo hold, there are two single beds on the upper level. In total, the plane can sleep four people.

Northam admits that it's a little snug, adding: "It's not the sort of space you'd probably spend a long time staying in."

Perhaps the most unique feature is a hot tub made out of an old engine hood

Plane and hot tub

Steven Northam

Alongside deckchairs and space for a barbeque, there's a unique hot tub built from the inlet cowling of a plane engine.

The other engine cowling, which is still attached to the plane, can be used as a seat.

A flight simulator located in the cockpit is a strong draw for plane-lovers

Flight simulator at front of plane

Steven Northam

"I bought a gaming PC and a big curved monitor because I though it just makes sense to have some sort of flight simulator in front of the actual plane," Northam said of another key feature.

He added that the "fun and quirky" addition has already generated a lot of interest from potential Airbnb guests.

"People just seem to be fascinated by planes, want to come and play in the simulator, and stay in a plane," Northam said.

He can't market it on Airbnb just yet, but he's considering charging $185 a night for a stay. There's already a 'long list' of people registering their interest.

Minibar on converted plane

Steven Northam

To get it on Airbnb, Northam still needs to receive planning permission from the local council, which he's waiting on.

But there's already a "long list" of people eager to stay. Northam says he will likely charge around £150 ($185.70) a night.

Families with children have shown an interest, but Northam also thinks it's a good spot for parties.

The plane has a cocktail trolley, as well as a drinks fridge in the small kitchenette.

Northam said it's the perfect place for "a weekend bit of fun."

Northam said he's proud of his work, and can't wait to convert more unusual spaces.

George Clark, Steven Northam, the plane

Steven Northam, left, and TV host George Clarke, right, outside the converted plane. Steven Northam

Northam is happy with how the plane turned out, saying that he's "quite proud" and it "looks cool."

He's hoping that with the revenue from putting it on Airbnb, it might be able to "pay for some more toys."

He's already got his eye on the next project: a truck he's turning into an armored camper van.

"That's on the horizon," he said, "coming up next."

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