These experienced proprietors also let us in on extras that can mean the difference between a so-so stay and one that ends with a glowing review, and decor guidelines that will ensure your property is remembered for the right reasons.
The brass tacks
Where to begin? Put yourself in the position of the traveler — and begin in the bathroom. It should go without saying that area should be squeaky clean (as should everywhere else). Include extra toilet paper, tissues, a cleaning wand and plunger. Personal care items should include shower staples — shampoo, conditioner and soap — and everything needed for hand-washing. None of this stuff must be high-end; recognizable drugstore products are totally fine.
As for towels, invest in matching sets that meet the maximum number of people your space can host. There’s nothing wrong with white Ikea towels that you can bleach between uses, but keep an eye on the fabric for stains so that you can swap them out.
In the bedroom, sufficient linens are a must — as with the towels, they don’t need to be fancy, but you should invest in a few sets specifically for visitors, and keep an eye out for when it’s time to retire them.
If your guests have kitchen access, they need the same items you would to keep the place spick-and-span and functional. That includes: dish soap, a sponge or scrubber, cleaning supplies such as paper towels and multi-surface spray, a drying rack in the absence of a dishwasher, and laundry soap if there’s a washer/dryer.
Other essentials include safety equipment: A fire alarm/carbon-monoxide detector with working batteries, a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit.
Matt Marcus, an Airbnb host in Brooklyn, said the three messages he receives most often are: “Where is the hair dryer, where is the iron, and where are the extra blankets?” Don’t forget items such as a pad of paper and pen; a flashlight; and a set of instructions that include the WiFi password and any other useful information guests might need.
Upping the game
Then there are the touches you might not think of, but are definitely appreciated. “When you’re putting together your bnb, you’re really creating an environment,” explains Anthony D’Argenzio, a creative consultant and stylist whose rental, This Old Hudson, is in Hudson, N.Y. When people come to stay at his two-unit property, they’re looking for a getaway, and D’Argenzio provides them with extras that make their stay feel seamless. All guests at This Old Hudson are greeted with a bottle of wine from a local wine shop and other goodies found in town, along with a map, curated by D’Argenzio and his wife, of fun places to shop, eat and drink. They also put coffee out on the counter along with a grinder and a French press, nice glassware, and sometimes chocolate or a cheese plate.
“You kind of want to let people imagine they live here,” D’Argenzio says. The sun-dappled space features vintage finds and plenty of comfortable places to read, recline and relax.
Sara and Rich Combs have added similar touches to their property in Joshua Tree, Calif., including a Chemex coffee maker and a record player — plus an outdoor hot tub — that make the space feel a little more like a home.
Thoughtful — but practical — touches, such as lamps by the beds and places to unwind, are a good idea for the space. The Combs suggest spending time in your unit and paying attention to details that make it not just serviceable, but enjoyable. They invested in nicer personal care products for guests and Casper mattresses for every room in their property, the Joshua Tree House. Hosts also might consider adding items you would find in a hotel, such as bathrobes.
While providing a curated list of recommendations for restaurants and activities in the booking letter or in the unit itself is helpful, supplying physical subway maps and guides can often be more convenient for guests.
If you’re wondering what else you should provide, Jenn Lindberg, whose rental is in Lockhart, Tex., has some good advice: The guest knows best. “We ask every guest for ideas on how their stay, as well as the apartment, could be improved,” says Lindberg, who has dubbed her historic flat the Birkner.
“Thanks to this system, we’ve added umbrellas, a pizza cutter, Kleenex, mixing bowls and noise machines — that feedback has been invaluable.”
Whether you’re renting out an extra room or an entire home, decor can make all the difference — and owners we spoke with agree that taking the “personal” out of the space is essential. “Between the plants, the records and what we leave out for guests, we want there to be signs of life. Just not signs of our life,” Rich Combs says.
That doesn’t mean removing every family photo in the house if you’re renting out an entire place. But it does mean personal pictures should come off the nightstands, and intimate artwork — such as boudoir photos — belong out of sight.
As for the decor itself, you don’t have to approximate the Ritz. Think simple and tasteful: a consistent color scheme, well-appointed bedding, uncluttered surfaces, subdued artwork or mirrors on the wall.
For Airbnb operators such as D’Argenzio, Combs, Lindberg and Marcus, incorporating the spirit of the cities where they are located has been a good design directive. Each of the spaces nods toward local heritage of the towns or cities.
Finally, all of the units have excellent, honest photography that not only highlights the decor, but allows visitors to understand what they are signing up for when they rent the space. Getting everyone on the same page beforehand is crucial, and can save hosts and guests a lot of headaches.