Ok, “demands” may be too harsh. But, seriously, is it too much to expect outlets we don’t have to move furniture to access, pans that don’t wiggle, and a place to hang a towel?
Too many AirBnB hosts consider their units a primary location for second-hand goods, not as the useful home-away-from-home they were intended to be. Take it from someone who travels the world almost exclusively with AirBnBs: there is a reason we choose to book these stays instead of hotels, and it’s not just about price or space. Yes, AirBnB is often cheaper per night than a hotel, and yes, they do offer more livable space than a hotel, but they are supposed to be more than that. The intent of AirBnBs is to also offer a comfortable space from one homeowner to another. Not a serviced apartment with little more than the bare minimums for living.
AirBnB users are more than an “easy paycheck.” We’re real people who are excited for a well-deserved vacation. We are driving or flying in from distant locations, feeling homesick and apprehensive about a new city. We’ve made plans of things we want to do in town and really need a good night’s sleep and a hair dryer to make our dreams come true. We’re sitting around your unit looking for a deck of cards and restaurants that deliver when rain traps us inside.
Help us make great memories.
If you are an AirBnB host who thoughtfully caters to the needs of the people renting your home, great. Keep fighting the good fight and move on. If you’re a host who has never tried to actually live in your own rental, you may want to settle in. We’ve got work to do.
Here’s some AirBnB advice every host needs to hear.
Home Decor & Pictures:
To be honest, I’m not looking at your property a second time if the preview pics show a plaid bedspread. Or flower wall decals. No offense, I’m sure the bed is really comfy, it’s just that busy colors, patterns, and decor scream OLD and DIRTY to me. Trending decor is clean and white. Embrace it. Your AirBnB should not be a the primary home for your secondary goods. If it’s not pretty enough to pass by on a daily basis in your own home then why would a whole ton of strangers like it?
Here’s some AirBnB decorating advice: try pairing down the decor. Keep rooms light and airy with no excessive furniture, pieces with simple lines, and white linens. A simple room will photograph like a dream, which means you’ll start seeing more bookings in no time.
And for goodness sake keep your pictures up to date! It’s just plain unfair to rent a beautiful unit only to find the reality is far inferior. First impressions really do matter, even with homes. If we feel cheated right away that feeling is not likely to go away. We assume you’ve acted dishonestly, which means the dishes, sheets, and bathroom probably aren’t clean, either. After all, a dishonest person who thinks we’re stupid isn’t going to bother changing the sheets for a bunch of strangers.
The next step we take: complaining to AirBnB and getting a refund. Out of your pocket.
Here are a few more things we really, really want in an AirBnB:
AirBnB Bedroom Decor:
We’re either arriving to your AirBnB after a long drive or a frustrating plane ride (because aren’t all road trips long and all plane rides frustrating?), and we need some sleep. Curtains should be dark enough to block out any outside lights at night, and preferably dark enough to block sun in the morning. Personally, I’m often traveling back and forth between time zones with a 6-year-old and we both need his sleep. If you advertise black out curtains in your AirBnB I’ll definitely consider booking because that means he and I will both get a better night’s sleep to adjust to the time change. Thank you!
Nightstands with a lamp
If the bedroom is big enough we really want nightstands. Preferably with small lamps. Nightstands don’t have to be big, they just need enough space for a pair of glasses, glass of water, and a book or cell phone. Drawers help, too, so we can keep other bedtime necessities organized.
When we’re on vacation we’re going out more often. I can only speak for myself, but I know I check the mirror and debate my outfits more on vacation than at home. A full-length mirror makes that so much easier. Nowadays full-length mirrors can fit on the back of doors, so there’s really no reason (in terms of space, at least) not to provide one. A long mirror in the bedroom is preferable, but one in the bathroom works, too.
Trash Cans in Every Room
You know what goes hand in hand with long flights? Germs. If I contract the flu on my way to your AirBnB it will make everyone else less sick if I can throw my handfuls of tissues somewhere close by. Or say I find a ton of ticket stubs or museum brochures in my purse at the end of the day. Would you rather I throw that stuff away on my own or leave it it in a pile on the bed?
A Top Sheet.
I completely understand that duvets are often easier than a sheet set, but I also find them hard to trust. I admit I was my duvet less often than a sheet set at my own home, so naturally I’m going to assume you do, too. Put our minds at ease (a bit, anyway) by providing a top sheet on the bed.
As a follow-up, in a survey of full-time travelers a lot of AirBnB users noted that they wished there was some way to tell the sheets were even clean. I wish I had a solution for that, but I don’t. The best I can come up with (and the yardstick I personally use to measure) is whether or not the sheets look fresh and wrinkle-free. A well-made bed at least gives the appearance of cleanliness.
If I do get sick on my way to your AirBnB there’s a good chance my husband will choose to sleep on the couch instead of beside a coughing monster. (And no, I don’t blame him.) Or maybe we just like to snuggle with a blanket after being out all day. Either way what we really want is a nice, comfy blanket. I’m begging you to put one within reach. Begging.
AirBnB Kitchen Amenities:
Having a kitchen is my #2 reason for choosing AirBnBs when on vacation (behind generally having more space). If we’re staying at your place for a few days we’ll probably go out for most meals, but the longer the stay the more likelihood that I’ll be cooking. It’s nice to save some money by cooking at “home”, it’s comforting to make familiar foods when in a new place, it’s convenient to have food around in case we get hungry at odd hours or bad weather keeps us inside, I like to cook, and, lastly, I shouldn’t have to explain why I want to use a kitchen.
You can’t control what the kitchen looks like, but there are lots of things you can do to make sure we feel comfortable in your kitchen.
A decent knife
No, I’m not going to stab anyone while on vacation, I just like to cut things. Food things. A good knife is one of the most basic and useful things someone will need, but is rarely provided. What we tend to get is one (maybe two) super dull knives that hurt to use. I can’t cut cucumber slices for a day at Disney World with a dull knife, let alone slice ingredients for a full meal!
That means I end up buying a new knife to do the most basic stuff in the kitchen. Which I end up leaving because I’ve flown in and can’t bring a sharp knife on a plane. So congratulations, you’re the owner of a new knife. Will you at least leave it for the next people renting your AirBnB?
For the record, we’d also appreciate a decent cutting board. If not I’ll end up cutting on the counter or a plate, which will cause more damage to your rental.
Enough Utensils for Everyone
This really should go without saying, but I’ve stayed at enough AirBnBs with limited utensils that here I am saying it: EACH PERSON NEEDS AT LEAST UTENSIL. We’d really like as many forks, spoons, and knives for each person to use two or three before needing to wash, to be honest, but that may be asking too much (she said sarcastically).
I end up using a fork when no whisk is provided, a spoon when no ladle in provided, etc. That means we use even more utensils than expected. Washing forks in the middle of making dinner is just ridiculous.
Pro Tip: The utensils we use most often are spoons. The one thing we always get on vacation is cereal, which means every person is using at least 1 spoon a day. A spoon is also a great multi-purpose utensil if there are no clean forks left, and is the easiest to use as a cooking tool if no others have been provided.
Again, this should go without saying, but please provide dish soap. Please!
A Clean Sponge
Because using a dirty spoon is just nasty. Providing clean extras like a sponge will also help the perception that the rest of the unit is clean. Someone who cares about clean sponges must care about clean linens!
Decent Pots and Pans
Too often we get one pot and one pan, and one or both has a scratched up non-stick surface (are you trying to give me cancer?) and a bowed bottom that won’t heat evenly. I understand people are jerks who try to steal anything not nailed down, but pots and pans? Is it really such a concern that you can’t leave me more than two? Or that those two can’t at least be half usable? Thanks.
Basic Cooking Essentials
Beyond pots, pans, and a knife, what we really need is cooking oil, salt, and pepper. It’s super annoying to come back with a load of groceries only to realize you can’t actually cook because the basic food items you’re used to having around aren’t available.
Leaving a bottle of cooking oil, salt, and pepper will at least get us through most things we have to cook.
Seriously, people. If you want us to keep your house clean you need to provide the very basic items necessary to do so.
AirBnB Bathroom Decor:
Enough Toilet Paper
…for the duration of our stay. Putting one roll with 1/3 left in the bathroom really doesn’t cut it. We’ll use that in two days (more if we’re in Asia…) We expect one unused roll of toilet paper in each bathroom and a pile of extra rolls somewhere findable. Please. Expecting people to find their own drug store for a 12-pack of toilet paper we’ll never finish is just wrong.
Also, if it’s the super thin (aka cheap) stuff then just realize we’re going to use 3x as many squares. Because that stuff is crap. But not good for crap. (See the joke I made? 😀 )
Towels for Each Guest
Two bath towels aren’t enough for a family of four. That’s just math. Please provide enough towels for each guest to have their own, plus 1-2 (or more) hand towels near the sink. Little makes me angrier than getting a damp, second-hand towel to use after taking a shower.
A Towel Rack
Or hook. Or shelf. Just somewhere to keep our towels near the actual shower. I don’t know how clean your toilet is, so I really need another option for my (hopefully) clean towel to rest until I need it. A towel rack also helps our towels dry quicker, which means we don’t need to wash or replace them as often during our stay.
Extras to Keep Around
Want to go above and beyond? Or even just past marginally acceptable? The following are things people reported loving from an AirBnB host, which will make reviews higher and your job easier.
Some AirBnB hosts go above and beyond by providing instant oatmeal, coffee (plus accessories), pancake mix, etc. When you consider that breakfast is the first meal most travelers will have on vacation it makes sense that complimentary breakfast items will give them a great first impression. If you know your AirBnB is lacking in other ways, providing some breakfast essentials can go a long way in securing a decent review!
A Dark Washcloth
I use a dark washcloth to wash my face. I love fluffy white towels (again, white looks fresh and clean), but I feel super guilty for getting black mascara stains on your white towels. Not guilty enough not to use it, however. A dark washcloth among a collection of white towels may seem out of place, but every woman will know what it’s for and appreciate it. (And it could save you from replacing white washcloths super often)
Vacuum or Broom and Cleaning Spray
Do you want us to care about your unit? Then give us the tools we need to live civilly. Decent people want clean floors. If you provide a vacuum or broom I’ll use it every day. And a multi-purpose cleanser will help me keep counters and bathrooms clean when my son destroys them. I’m not a barbarian.
A Bottle of Wine
The number 1 thing adults reported appreciating at an AirBnB was a bottle of wine. This one takes special consideration, though, as you can never be sure of the age of the guests visiting or of their alcoholic preferences. Rest assured that, even if they aren’t drinkers, the thought isn’t lost.
A corkscrew, can opener, toaster, coffee maker, various herbs, etc. are all greatly appreciated (and sometimes expected) by AirBnB guests. Think about it from our perspective: would you be able to live/ cook in the kitchen you’re providing?
A stroller, bicycles, beach chairs, scuba gear, etc. is all greatly appreciated when we’re renting a place in a new town. I’ll book a unit even if the AirBnB decor or amenities aren’t up to par if it includes equipment which helps me enjoy my vacation. If I don’t have to bring or rent those things on my own I’ll be so grateful!
Look, I completely understand why you don’t include everything on our list. It takes time and money to accumulate and provide these things only for rude AirBnB guests to steal them. It happens and it’s awful. But that’s not my fault.
I’m a decent person who will do everything in my power to leave your unit in as good a condition as I found it. And when your unit is advertised on a website promoting the comforts of home there is no good reason why I shouldn’t expect those comforts. If you aren’t comfortable providing certain things then the hard truth is that AirBnB may not be the best fit for you or your rental. Instead, check with local real estate companies about finding short-term renters looking for a partially-furnished home.
Because it’s not fair to the decent AirBnB guests of the world to make do with just the bare essentials.