We’ve chosen to stay at a series of rental apartments on this trip, especially since Lizzie is with us (second room is necessary for all to sleep well) and we like the ability to cook simple meals in order to skip going out all the time. Okay, and I also like being able to keep a Coke Zero and some non-alcoholic beer cold at all times. We stayed in lovely places each time, but we learned a few things about how a given host/hostess could improve a stay. In no particular order, here’s how to make your short-term renters love their stay.
1. Don’t take too long with introducing them to the place: Your guests are probably tired from their journey, even if it was merely an hour on a train. They want to take off their shoes and have a drink. Show them the various rooms, where dishes are stored, and any quirks (e.g. The TV doesn’t respond to the remote so you’ll need to turn it on via this button. You must close the shutters if the wind picks up or you’ll regret it!) Ask if they have any pressing questions before you leave and be sure to indicate if they should text, email, or send a homing pigeon with further questions.
2. Leave a detailed list of instructions and helpful information – in both the local language and English: Include at least the procedure for checking out/leaving the apartment, any house rules – even if posted on the listing website, and a list of numbers guests would need an in emergency (fire, paramedics, local doctor, pharmacy). Other things we’ve liked are a list of local shops and restaurants our host enjoys, pamphlets for local attractions, how to decipher the laundry machine’s symbols, and a TV channel guide.
3. Clearly post WiFi connection information: Including it in an instruction booklet, posting on the wall in an obvious location, or leaving a tent card are all great ways to do this. (3.b. would be to offer WiFi, even if slow or a limited number of hours it’s on. Few are looking to do work but will probably want to save their International data plan for directions rather than Facebook before bed.)
4. Provide ability to do laundry: This doesn’t mean you have to have a washing machine in the room or even have your guest pay you to do a load, but make sure guests know how they can get their laundry done. Maybe a woman in your village does laundry part time or there’s a laundromat nearby? If no dryer – and, yes, we understand why having a dryer is very rare in Europe – have a clothesline or drying rack guests can use and plenty of clothespins.
5. Fill soap dispensers with hand soap: Not providing toothpaste and shampoo is normal, but guests won’t have to worry about where their body wash is in the suitcase the first time they want to wash their hands after the restroom.
6. Have a guestbook: Places with one will seem more like you’re having guests at your home, not just taking advantage of an extra room you have merely for the purposes of making extra income. Both you and your guests will be able to see where others have traveled from and maybe find out a good attraction or coffee place nearby. One place also had a map with pins to mark their hometowns.
7. Extra blankets and pillows: Some people (like Matt and I) are horrible at sharing blankets, so each place that had an extra one for our house was great. Extra pillows are great for folks who may have back problems.
8. Coffee buys you friends: Only applies if the apartment has a kitchen, obviously. Provide coffee and a way to make it. Instant is fine; Nespresso is heavenly. Tea should be included, too, if you’re expecting guests from tea-prefering countries.
9. Include bonues for families with children: Have a few toys or kid’s movies. Point out the children’s televesion channel, if there is one. Have a nightlight in the “kid’s room.” Have a step-stool for help reaching the bathroom sink or seeing out a picture window. Stock juice and milk in the fridge and individual packages of crackers or fruit. List in the information packet where a playground or public park with a grassy area is located. Have a good area for diaper changes which can be as simple as a waist-height horizontal surface free of trinkets and an extra towel.