AirBnB has been my go-to website for booking accommodation for years and has successfully supplied me with well-equipped rooms/apartments/houses for good value wherever in Europe I’ve wanted to stay.
Over the past 3 years I’ve used AirBnB for 26 different accommodations stretching over 15 different countries and here is a list of things, both incredibly useful as well as petty, I wish I could let every host have to make my trip perfect:
a full length mirror.
Let’s start with the #1 frustration when I’m on a trip: lack of mirror. I usually leave my packing to the last minute and therefore have NO IDEA what my outfit choices are going to look like when I arrive at a new destination. Getting dressed to go out for an evening meal or cocktails is just 10 times harder when you don’t have a mirror to look into to check your outfit looks acceptable (not too wrinkled, or that you don’t have VPL). Or to check your boots go with your outfit. Or to check there’s nothing stuck to the bum of your jeans. I can even cope with just a knee-to-shoulder length mirror, if you can’t afford a full length one. Just something — please?!
lay off the coffee machines.
No one needs a fancy schmancy coffee machine in a room the size of a postage stamp. Every single European destination I’ve stayed in so far has had an abundance of cafés, coffee shops, market stalls selling coffee and – I don’t know about you – but part of getting to know a new city, for me, is finding multiple coffee shops and people watching for a good half hour. I don’t want to waste my day’s caffeine allowance inside a tiny room — I want to get out there and experience the culture of a new country!
Whilst it’s a nice surprise, and a bit of a novelty to find an espresso machine when you arrive at your AirBnB room, 99% of the time I’ve never used the machine. The machine becomes a very expensive ornament. Spend your money elsewhere.
check in methods
A safe drop box for checking in is the way to go. A lot of ‘BnB hosts already do this and it makes checking in way less stressful. I can’t tell you the amount of times a host has given a really strict set time for picking up keys — which often just doesn’t work with a packed-out city schedule. Some budget airline flights get in past 9pm in the evening, making a 4pm check-in impossible. Also, I’m definitely not one of those who NEEDS to be physically checked in by someone. I appreciate the gesture of the host wanting to be welcoming and show me how everything works and provide me maps and show me everything I need to do, I really do. But a lot of the time I’m either too exhausted to focus on that (if it’s late), or else I just want to dump my bag and get straight back out there. Lengthy check-in processes hinder that.
If you’re going to offer a fully stocked kitchen (fine if you’re not, but don’t proclaim to) then really think about just what that entails. What things are people going to need but won’t be travelling with or want to buy?
Things like salt, pepper, sugar, butter, milk,!ketchup, cooking oil and a small assortment of herbs and spices. Then think about all the utensils that one needs for cooking an array of different foods.
The best way you can test your ‘fully stocked’ kitchen? Live in your AirBnB (if you don’t already). Spending a week or two living as one of your guests would will be a surefire way to highlight all the things you missed (and this goes for all the other rooms too — you might realise you need bathroom items like a towel rack, or more hangers in the bedroom).
make it exceptionally clear where to go if your AirBnB ain’t on Google Maps
I have stayed at far too many properties that are literally streets away from where Maps says the address is.
Now, hey, I get it — it’s super frustrating when Maps can’t get your home just right. We suffer the exact same thing where we live in Bury St Edmunds and we are forever answering calls from delivery drivers asking where the hell our house is. We’ve submitted requests to Google to ask them correct the location and, annoyingly, they show up as correct on our phones — but not on anyone else’s! So I’m always writing out ‘Delivery notes’ whenever I place an order online so the driver can find us.
If your property isn’t showing correctly on Maps, then I suggest you add this note on your AirBnb description — somewhere at the forefront and easy to see, rather than hidden in the small print. In fact, better yet, when sending a message to welcome your guests after they book, immediately provide detailed instructions to find the house without using GPS. And make sure you follow your own instructions at night to check for reliability because a lot of guests show up after hours, and trying to find a red door, or a black letterbox, can be impossible to find once it’s dark. We stayed at one property in the south of France which was essentially a caravan on the owner’s farmland. The instructions to find the house down a very long road was to identify a sign saying the name of the farm. We must have driven up and down that road 20 times trying to spy the right place. Put a light out maybe?! Just anything different to highlight where to go.
more mirror requests…
A mirror in a room DIFFERENT to the bathroom — PLEASE. Right now I’m sat on the bed waiting for my husband to finish using the toilet, so that the second he jumps in the shower I can go back in the bathroom to use the mirror to apply my make up and blow dry my hair. However I’ll spend at least half my time in there wiping the smeary, steamy shower-fumed mirror just so I can see my face. This gets dull, quick.
be honest about the state of your property
And I don’t just mean writing “our home is quirky”. I mean, full descriptions. Which may be off-putting as an AirBnB host and goes against every advertising and marketing course/article/lecture you’ve ever seen.
When we stayed in Portugal, our “quirky” apartment was literally just one room. Essentially a hotel room, it can’t even be described as a studio flat. Which is fine, I’m more than happy with small, cramped spaces for a short period of time, but it wasn’t described as such on the listing and there were very few photos.
Also, the bathroom door would not close. It was just too small for the frame, and thus wouldn’t latch and instead gently sprang open a few centimetres after I tried pushing it shut. (I should also note that this was the same trip where I had food poisoning. I had been up and in/out of the toilet the entire previous night and the thought of shitting my guts up without a door to protect my privacy made me feel even worse.)
The door was just out of reach of the toilet, so you couldn’t really hold it shut whilst sitting down, so the best I could do was bunch up the floor mat against the crack at the bottom of the door to wedge it shut. It mildly worked but was just not what I needed. If this is what the host meant by “quirky”, then that’s the kind of thing that really needs disclosing… or better yet just fix it!
keep in touch during my stay
You’re going to think I’m a hypocrite on this one, after stating I don’t want to have to meet the host face-to-face. But bear with me on this.
I think out of all of the times I have used AirBnB for accommodation, only twice has the host written me a message after my first night there asking if everything was ok. And honestly, it made all the difference. Whilst I didn’t need that 1-on-1 contact, the fact they reached out showed me that I wasn’t just a number. I wasn’t just a faceless guest amongst their bazillion properties. They actually cared. And it also invites the guest to mention anything that might be bothering them (that they might be thinking they won’t bother you with in case it’s petty) which gives you a chance to actually rectify the issue. Which often will get you much better reviews!
finally — please offer driving or parking advice!
This is particularly important when staying in cities. We had an absolute rubbish experience trying to park our car in Lake Como, because the host claimed there was free parking included with the house, but unfortunately they didn’t specify until we arrived that we would have to park on the street, and just fit in where we could. We eventually managed to find a space for our (thankfully) tiny Fiat 500 that I was driving, but not before winding and weaving our way throughout bendy, narrow Italian streets for 20 minutes trying to find somewhere within walking vicinity of the house.
On the other end of the spectrum, our Zadar host was very upfront about lack of free parking earlier in 2018. But they did tell us exactly where we could park and how much it would be. They even told us that it is free parking overnight, so we could park there when we arrived for free, and would just have to nip out before 9am the next morning to pay for the following day (which I think was only about 5 Euro). The information was great, and at least we were prepared with the right amount of change when we arrived to sort out the parking.
Now this list isn’t exhaustive, and for a place to be my ideal AirBnB dream there are many things that would be helpful, but I always try to keep an open mind and also set my expectations low. Especially since everyone is different, we all have different expectations (particularly between countries and cultures) and not everyone can be pleased all of the time. But the above items are on my highest priority when looking for a place to stay.
What do you wish your AirBnB hosts would do? What does your perfect AirBnB experience include?