15 Little Things That Make An Airbnb Go From Okay to Fantastic

If you run an Airbnb, here's how to stand out from the rest.

Your success on Airbnb is largely based on your reviews, and if you can surprise and delight your guests you’ll have a steady stream of 5 star ratings. This boosts your position in the Airbnb search rankings and helps you get more bookings!

The key is in the details. It’s the little things that make the difference between one Airbnb and the next – and make a guest’s stay so much more enjoyable.

Lee and I have stayed in Airbnbs for the last few months while traveling in Europe – and we’ve noticed a lot of these details missing. Every time I have to boil water on the stove because the home doesn’t have a kettle, or buy extra toilet paper because the host only left us one roll for a 5 night stay – I think about how many Airbnbs simply require a little bit more thought and attention to go from Okay to Amazing.

Whether you’re setting up a new Airbnb or you’ve been hosting for a while, read this guide – you might realize your property is missing something pretty important.

NOTE: This is for an Airbnb where you rent the entire apartment or home, rather than a room in a shared house. It’s a totally different experience because it doesn’t come with the challenges of sharing the space with others (which is a post for another day).

Strong WiFi

Add a laptop friendly workspace to your Airbnb

Lee and I have been ranting about the importance of WiFi on this blog since 2012. Fortunately, technology has improved a lot since then and most of the time – WiFi is not an issue. However, we still sometimes end up in accommodations that have slow WiFi, a signal that doesn’t reach all the rooms, or connectivity problems.

Good WiFi is important to invest in for your Airbnb. It’s essential for digital nomad travelers who work on the road. But it’s more than that – these days it has become essential for pretty much every type of traveler who would be staying at your Airbnb.

Everyone uses the WiFi to update their social media accounts, Facetime their friends and family, listen to podcasts, read reviews of local restaurants, look up maps to nearby attractions, watch Netflix and Google some obscure fact so that they can win an argument.

WiFi is an essential part of our daily lives and most people feel a bit lost without it.

So, don’t leave your guests struggling to connect or suffering from slow speeds. It might be a little bit more of an initial outlay to invest in better internet for your Airbnb property, but it will pay for itself in the positive reviews and increased bookings over the years.

Laptop-Friendly Workspace

It's hard to be inside working...
At this apartment in Portugal, I had to work awkwardly on the couch as there was nowhere to put my laptop.

This is an Airbnb feature that is especially attractive for your guests who are digital nomads and need to get a lot of work done online while they are on the road. Sitting on a bed or a couch with a laptop leads to neck and back strain after a while, so it’s really nice to have a more ergonomically friendly spot to sit and get work done.

This doesn’t have to be a full office space or anything like that. It can simply be a desk or chair and a table in the corner of the room. Anywhere that allows your guests to sit up and work at their computer will help them to be more productive.

A Fully Equipped Kitchen

what to include in your Airbnb

The convenience of having a kitchen is one of the main reasons why travelers choose to stay in an Airbnb apartment rather than a hotel. Having the freedom to cook their own meals saves them a lot of money and can really improve the experience.

You might be saying, “Oh of course, my Airbnb apartment has a kitchen!”

But is your kitchen fully equipped?

Lee and I see this a lot. We arrive at an Airbnb and try to use the kitchen, only to find that there is only one coffee cup, a few plates, a couple of dull kitchen knives and a handful of mismatched cutlery.

We can’t heat up leftovers easily because there is no microwave.

Want to make toast? No toaster.

We are actually traveling with a coffee mug right now, because of how many Airbnb apartments we’ve stayed in that are missing one.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to invest in all of the state of the art appliances of a gourmet chef.

However, it’s important to make sure that your guests have enough of the basic kitchen equipment they need to prepare most meals.

Make sure you have enough cooking pans in your Airbnb kitchen
Make sure you have enough cooking pans in your Airbnb kitchen

What to Include in Your Kitchen

Here are a few of the essentials we have noticed are missing in a lot of Airbnb kitchens:

  • Cooking Oil. It’s needed to cook pretty much anything, so stock a large bottle so guests don’t have to buy it themselves.
  • Salt and Pepper. A cheap essential that makes a big difference for guests when cooking in your apartment.
  • Coffee, Tea and Sugar. It doesn’t cost you much to keep these items stocked, but it makes a huge positive impression on your guests when you have them.
  • A Good Knife. If it’s so dull that it struggles to cut through a tomato, it’s time to replace it.
  • Bin Bags. I’ve been surprised at the amount of apartments where Lee and I have been left with one trash bag for a week-long stay. We are certainly going to need more than that (especially since we cook a lot).
  • Tea Kettle. Don’t make your guests boil water for a cup of tea in a pot on the stove. It will make them sad.
  • Toaster. Investing in a toaster for your Airbnb apartment makes a big difference. If you really want to impress your guests, leave a fresh loaf of bread in the kitchen when they arrive.
  • Scissors. Handy for cutting into tricky packaging.
  • Spatula. Yes, really. Yesterday I was frying an egg in the Airbnb where we are currently staying in Podgorica, Montenegro and I looked high and low – but I couldn’t find something to lift it out of the pan with.

Feel like all of these details are too much to remember? Here’s an easy way to figure out what your Airbnb kitchen is missing: Try to cook a few meals there. I guarantee, you’ll notice that you are lacking and you can write it down on a list and head to the shop.

For example, at this same Airbnb in Podgorica, I quickly realised that there was nowhere in the kitchen to plug in the toaster. I had to use a wall socket near the TV and toast my bread with the toaster on the floor. That seems ridiculous, but it’s something you don’t notice until you actually try to use the kitchen and realize what’s missing.

Extra Toiletries

Please put extra toilet paper in your Airbnb!
Please put extra toilet paper in your Airbnb!

If you really want to create a fantastic Airbnb, it’s the little details that count. Supplying shampoo, conditioner, lotion and body wash for your guests is a welcome little touch – especially if they forgot to bring their own (or they run out during their stay).

This is the kind of little extra that won’t cost you too much. Shampoo and conditioner are much cheaper when you buy them in large bottles with a pump dispenser – which will last for several guests. (Plus, when you have large bottles they are much less likely to get stolen by your guests!)

And of course, toilet paper! Running out of toilet paper is something we experience quite often during an Airbnb stay. It’s often because the host has left us only one or two rolls for a weeklong stay. So, we end up having to buy more during our stay – which is a bit of a pain.

Buy toilet paper in bulk and leave plenty of it under the sink in the bathroom or in a cupboard!

(On the Island of Vis in Croatia, we needed just one more roll to see us through our stay, but the smallest pack of toilet paper in the shop was 10 rolls (thank goodness it was cheap). It was annoying to have to buy that much ourselves, when our hosts could have simply left us an extra roll.)

Don’t forget to also have a rubbish bin with a lid in the bathroom. Trust me, no woman wants to have to throw away her used sanitary pad in the other bin in the kitchen!

Is your Airbnb bathroom fully equipped?

What to Include in Your Bathroom

Here are a few other essentials your bathroom should have:

  • Towels (hand towels and large towels)
  • Toilet brush
  • Plunger
  • Air freshener
  • Bath mat
  • Hand soap
  • Hooks for hanging towels on
  • Enough surface space for guests to put their toiletries on
  • Hair dryer (One of the essential amenities for being a Business Travel Ready Airbnb)
  • A first aid kit
  • Tampons
Does your Airbnb have a washing machine?

Washing Machine

If you can provide your guests with a clothes washer, you’ll be well on your way to great reviews. After all, guests who are staying for a week or more will need to wash their clothes at least once (especially if they have packed light) and you’re saving them the hassle of having to go to the laundromat.

Also, a washing machine is one of the features that you can filter your search by in Airbnb – so travelers who know they will need one during their stay might be selecting that filter, and not even seeing your property!

Having a dryer as well as a washing machine is a bonus – and they are more common in North America than in Europe. If you don’t have a dryer, you can simply supply a washing line outside or a drying rack where your guests can hang their clothes to dry. (Please make sure you supply a drying rack! We’ve been in Airbnb apartments where we had to hang our damp shirts and underwear on every available surface and it’s really not ideal.)

And of course, don’t forget the washing powder! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in an Airbnb which has a washing machine, but doesn’t supply any laundry soap. It’s annoying, because I have to go out and buy a full box, even though I may only use it once or twice during my stay.

Have at least two keys – it makes it so much easier for your Airbnb guests.

A Second Key

This is another small fix that won’t take you much time or money, but will make a big difference on the experience for your guests. If you have more than one person staying in your Airbnb, they will be able to go out separately without having to coordinate with each other about who has the key and what time they will be back.

Better yet, use a smart lock or a lockbox system. That way, you won’t have to worry about keys and your guests can get into the house whenever they like. Plus, it allows you to do self-check-in, which is very convenient.

Make guests feel welcome with hassle-free check-in.

Hassle-Free Check-In

Speaking of check-in, that’s the next item on my list. When your guests arrive, you want to make the check-in process as easy as possible for them. They have probably been on a flight or a bus all day long, they are tired and hungry and they just want to relax.

A smooth check-in is your chance to make an amazing first impression.

If you are meeting them at the property, make sure that it’s easy to coordinate with them and don’t leave them waiting outside.

To make it even easier, you can use a lockbox or a smart lock. That way, your guests can check in whenever they arrive and you won’t have to meet them in person. Of course, this takes away the friendly warm of a personal greeting – but it certainly makes things much more convenient.

If you won’t be there to meet your guests and show them around, be sure to have materials accessible that explain what they need to know about the apartment. For example, how do you turn on the washing machine? Where are the extra towels? Where do they put the garbage bins when they are full?

This information can be printed in a book or guide that is waiting on the coffee table when the guests arrive – so that they can reference it whenever they need to. Make sure it also has your contact information, so that they can give you a call if there are any questions.

A bowl of fruit is a wonderful treat for hungry Airbnb guests.
A bowl of fruit is a wonderful treat for hungry Airbnb guests.

A Little Bit Of Food

Your guests have probably been on a long bus ride or flight and when they arrive, they are likely tired and hungry. If you provide them with a few snacks, they will be able to satisfy their hunger right away rather than having to head out first thing and find something to eat.

This doesn’t mean you have to stock the fridge completely – just a few simple items will do. Our lovely Airbnb host in Dubrovnik, Croatia provided a fresh loaf of bread, butter and some jam and we were delighted. Another Airbnb host in Ljubljana, Slovenia left us some apples from the tree in her parents backyard and they were delicious.

Offering your guests anything they can snack on right away if they are hungry when they arrive is a wonderful touch they will really appreciate.

Where should your Airbnb guests head if they want the essentials?
Where should your Airbnb guests head if they want the essentials?

A Guide to the Closest Amenities

After your guests have snacked on the lovely bit of food you have left for them, they will be ready to head out and pick up a few groceries. (It’s always the first thing Lee and I do when we arrive somewhere.)

To make it easier for them, provide them with info on where the closest supermarket, pharmacy and ATM are located. You can even add details about which supermarkets in the area are open late, which have better prices, which has the best selection, etc.

Again, it’s all about making things easier for your guests so that they don’t have to search around when they are on their vacation.

Leave personal items and clutter out of your Airbnb.
Leave personal items and clutter out of your Airbnb.

Less Clutter

We stayed in an Airbnb in Paris that was beautifully designed and well located. However, one of our only gripes was that it had stuff on nearly every surface. Photographs, books and decorations covered all of the shelves and tables.

It left us feeling like we didn’t have a lot of room to move around or put our stuff. We also felt a little strange, especially since many of the items were personal photographs and memorabilia. It felt like we had just stepped into someone else’s apartment when they were away and we were getting a voyeuristic look into their personal life.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have any books, photos, art or decoration in your Airbnb! A few of these things can really make your decor look great. However, make sure that you also leave some shelves, surfaces, drawers and closets free so that your guests have room to put their own things away.

Also, although your decor should have some personality – make sure it doesn’t feel like your guests are peering into your life. Leave personal photos and memorabilia out of your Airbnb rental and choose art and decorations that will appeal to the majority of your guests.

Give your Airbnb guests somewhere to hang their clothes!
Give your Airbnb guests somewhere to hang their clothes!

Storage Space

Speaking of letting your guests have somewhere to put their stuff, my next point is about storage space. Make sure that you have a set of drawers, closet or wardrobe where your guests can unpack their suitcases into.

I know firsthand that suitcases and bags are prone to “explode” across a room when you open them, as it’s not easy to keep clothes contained within them. Giving your guests a place to put their stuff will help them stay less messy and enjoy their visit more.

Leave your Airbnb guests a note with important info.
Leave your Airbnb guests a note with important info.

Bits of Practical Info

Your home or apartment has its own little quirks. Make sure that you write them down for your guests so they don’t have to figure them out on their own.

For example, when the rubbish bin is full, where should guests take out the garbage? The outside bins might not be obvious so make sure you describe where they are.

This will help you avoid any questions your guests might have during their stay. Plus, sometimes people simply have a bad time due to something quite simple, and you end up with a low rating that could have been avoided.

For example, the host of our Airbnb in Kotor, Montenegro said she had guests who gave her low ratings because they didn’t have any hot water during their stay. The switch to turn on the boiler was right outside the bathroom door and the bad review (and uncomfortable stay) could have been prevented with a simple mention.

You can tell your guests these things in a walk-through when they arrive, or you can write them in a laminated guide that you leave on the table for their reference.

Here are some other important things you might want to clarify for your guests:

  • Where are the electrical breakers?
  • How to turn on the washing machine and which setting to use
  • What should guests do with garbage?
  • Do you have a recycling bin? What goes in it?
  • Where are the extra towels/toilet paper/etc?
Tell the truth in your Airbnb listing, please!
Tell the truth in your Airbnb listing, please!

An Honest Listing

Whether your Airbnb property is a beachside villa or a studio apartment, it’s important to be honest in your listing. Describe your Airbnb and its location as accurately as possible.

Lying or exaggerating on your Airbnb listing is like putting misleading photos of yourself on a dating app. Sure, it might help you get more matches, but when people meet you in person they are going to be disappointed and confused. However, if you put realistic photos of yourself, you’ll match with the people who really want what you have to offer.

Your Airbnb listing should be accurate and should include all of the important information your guests need to know before they arrive. Don’t exaggerate what you have, just describe it honestly and include plenty of photos so the guest knows what to expect.

Also, describe the location of the property accurately as well. If you’re a 15 minute walk from the bus station, don’t say it’s 10 minutes. Describe what the neighborhood is like and what guests can find within walking distance.

If something isn't working at your Airbnb, let your guests know you'll fix it right away.
If something isn’t working at your Airbnb, let your guests know you’ll fix it right away.

Requesting Feedback and Acting On It

Make sure you let your guests know that they can contact you any time if they have any issues with their accommodation. Our host in Kotor, Montenegro did this really well. She said,

“If something is wrong I would rather come out and fix it, rather than you being uncomfortable during your stay.”

This will hopefully encourage people to reach out to you if they are unhappy. Otherwise, they might leave a bad review about something that could have been easily fixed.

Of course, when you make this statement you should be ready to act on it! Your guests might call you with a complaint – such as a burnt out lightbulb or a broken kettle. Get there as soon as you can to fix the situation so they don’t have to suffer too long in the dark with no tea (the horror!)

Stay in your Airbnb so that you can spot the little things that are missing.
Stay in your Airbnb so that you can spot the little things that are missing.

Staying A Couple Nights Yourself

You are probably thinking to yourself, “How on earth am I going to remember and implement all of this?”

Don’t stress yourself out too much. You know the easiest way to find out what your particular Airbnb is missing?

Just stay there yourself for a few nights and make a list of everything you notice.

Have a shower in the bathroom. Are there enough towels? Do you need a bath mat for the floor? Add it to the list.

Cook a meal in the kitchen. When it comes to strain the pasta, you’ll realise you forgot a colander. Add it to the list.

Sleep in the bedroom. When the annoying blinking light from the router keeps you up, you’ll decide to put it in the living room instead.

These are the little details that you don’t notice until you actually experience your Airbnb like a guest would.

Then, transform your Airbnb from “okay” to truly FANTASTIC – getting glowing reviews and a fully booked calendar as a result.

Any questions about how to improve your Airbnb? Leave them in the comments below.

PS. If you run a hostel rather than an Airbnb, check out this companion article: Little Things That Make a Hostel Go From Okay to Fantastic.

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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