How to Create a LUXURY Airbnb and get 5 Star Reviews (within a Reasonable Budget)Nov 08, 2022
above image: The Nordroom
As a designer who designs short term rentals, I must admit I sometimes have a hard time staying in them.
It's not only the lack of good design that can be off putting when staying in a vacation home, but some would argue that more important is the lack of attention to detail. Let's be honest, what is luxury if not having all of your needs met, AND MORE, by your host.
Luxury is more than just really nice sheets and fluffy robes for after your dip in the hot tub. Luxury is feeling pampered. Luxury is having everything you could possibly need thought of and provided for you.
And also the things you wouldn't even have dreamed up but that make your tail wag? Those are provided too.
We recently went to a large resort for a 2 week getaway in the Dominican. Although this property was nice and newly renovated, there was an astounding lack of attention to detail. It was this that made the property feel far from luxury. Thus I had a spark of inspiration, and a blog post is born.
LET'S START WITH WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER GIVING YOUR GUESTS SOME LUXURY
Why is always a good place to begin for any new idea. If the idea of creating some luxury in your rental is a new one, let's lay the ground work.
- Luxury will differentiate you - You guys know this market is getting crowded, right? There are a lot of new rentals out there. You want yours to be different. Better than the others. When you incorporate a lux vibe, it will set you apart from your neighbor!
- Luxury will attract a higher quality clientele - Same goes for design, by the way. Well done interior design will set you apart, and luxury touches will too. Pay attention to all of it and you'll be ahead of the competition.
- Providing a luxury experience will make your gig as host more fun - This is the hospitality business. If making your guests super happy doesn't make you excited, you may not be in the right industry. For me as a host, there is absolutely nothing better than exceeding my guests expectations.
But at the end of the day, this is a business. We MUST be smart about what kind of luxury we invest in.
So then, let's dive into how we can go about being smart with this luxury thing. What luxury should we invest in for our rentals? How do we get the most return on every dollar we spend? These are important questions!
As a long time designer with an even longer record for being far too realistic for my own good, I've created a list for each and every space in your rental where you can go above and beyond to impress your guests where it will impact them most, but won't cost you a fortune.
Take a browse of the board below for some of my top picks for adding a touch of luxury, then read on for a room-by-room guide.
Happy guests = excellent reviews. And excellent reviews lead to repeat guests and new high quality guests in your future.
Let's break the details down by space, shall we!
above image: @Sweetolivegifting
The entry of your rental should be thought of as the very important first impression for your guests. As soon as they arrive, we want them to feel thought of and special. We don't want anyone feeling like just another guest making them money. Here are some simple things you can provide at an entry way that will make your guests feel fully welcomed and excited to be staying with you.
- A hand written note. Hear me out. I know if you have many properties or you don't live near your rental this can seem impossible, but actually it's not. You can have your turnover team write a simple 2 line welcome with their name on it. That's all it needs to be. Did you know that guests LOVE hearing or seeing their name? Keep it simple and doable, and this one can be very impactful for making someone feel special.
- A bottle of wine. We bought cases of nice wine from Costco and left them in the supply closet, bringing out one to leave at the front at each turnover. Sometimes they drank it, sometimes they took it home, and sometimes they left it untouched. But I guarantee it always made an impact.
- Some nice chocolates. A simple bar of nice dark chocolate or some truffles are universally welcomed.
- Something local - maybe it's local chocolates? Or local coffee? Is there a local business you could seek out and partner up with? Consider asking them for a discount for your guests in return for some free marketing for their brand?
- Flowers - Okay this one is very luxury, but worth considering if you happen to love flowers. I used to snip daffodils from the garden and put them into one of my rentals. Find simple ways to add joy to your guests' stay but make sure it's also bringing you joy in the process. If it doesn't, don't do it.
- This is really above and beyond but if you're creating a high end luxury property, a Harry and David Gift basket could be very impactful.
above image: Salt Lake City Airbnb
I think it was my friends Annette and Sarah from Thanks for Visiting that I first heard say the phrase "make sure they can cook a turkey dinner in there" when discussing how to stock up a short term rental kitchen. YES! I 100% agree. You need to supply more than the basic dorm room essentials in the kitchen if you want to attract and impress high quality guests. If you're looking for a good list, please download my FREE Amenities shopping list.
- Sharp knives!! Just. You guys. C'mon, this one doesn't need more explanation right? Tell me you haven't been to a rental with extremely dull knives and nearly sliced your hand off just trying to get yourself a piece of toast in the morning. Here's a link to some good ones. Any knives by Henkel will be durable and good quality.
- Upgrade that coffee machine and also the coffee.
- Offer an Instant Pot. For my cabin folks or those that host longer family stays, this is a nice upgrade to the normal kitchen tools!
- SNACKS! Again, know your audience here, but I've been that haggard mom with kids in tow after a long travel day and have literally had my life saved by that simple basket of granola bars and chips left behind. And when I say had my life saved, I mean from my littlest kid who thinks an hour without snacks is a crisis. (I'm trying hard to retrain her. It's a process.)
The Living Room
This room is, as you know, the most important and one that carries a heavy load for a rental. Often the reason people book short-term rentals instead of hotels is so they can gather in a living room on their vacation. So this is a good one to spend a little time improving.
- Let's just start with the thing I am FOREVER preaching: LIGHTING CONTROL. I mean lamps and dimmer switches. Get yourself some!
- Nice, soft, CLEAN blankets.These are my fave Pottery Barn Blankets, especially the plush Alpaca.
- Pillows with down inserts (Ikea and Amazon have great ones!)
- Somewhere to put feet up (Everyone loves a good pouf!)
- Think about those occasional tables… Does everyone have somewhere to put a drink??
- Make sure to think a lot about the layout of this room. Does it evoke conversation? Does it think about the guests' experience in the space? Do you need a nook with a lamp directly over a chair for a cozy reading experience? Do you need swivel chairs so that they can be turned towards the TV or the lively family game of charades happening on the other side of the room?
If you want more lamp inspiration, stay tuned for my next blog post which will be a round up of my favourite lamps on the market right now!
above image: No. 131
Again, if offering luxury means giving guests more control over their environment, there are plenty of ways to do that in the bedroom.
- Bedding: One thing I like to suggest is offering the best options when it comes to bedding, but simultaneously not adding more work to your turnovers. The solution is to pop the extra bedding layers in the closet! I tie a ribbon around the extra bedding so that I can tell if it's been used and needs a wash or not. This is my favorite light cotton blanket to offer as an extra layer stored in the closet, and for more info about layering a bed for a rental head to this blog.
- Pillows: A lux upgrade to every bedroom is to have 2 sleeping pillows per guest with different fill options. Some can be foam filled, some down alternative, etc.
- Temperature control: Do you need a nice ceiling fan? Check out this blog for a round up of my faves.
- Offer bedside tables and lamps for each guest. That's right. If it's a bed that sleeps 2 people and you have room, you need 2 bedside tables with a lamp on each one. And maybe a lamp with a USB port or wireless charging feature.
- Blackout shades: Cater to the many different sleepers of the world by layering those windows right. Blackout shades are not optional. Check out this blog for my easy 3 step process for window coverings.
above image: No. 131
The bathroom may be the most fun spot to add a flare of luxury for your guests. There are all kinds of fun things you can add to a bathroom.
- Who doesn't love a fluffy bathrobe! I know this can make turnover tough, but if you have a small rental for a couple's romantic getaway, it will be worth the extra washing for the impact you'll make!
- Nice smelling hand soap does not have to cost a fortune. I recently realized my favorite hand soap ever is available at Target for $6!! It smells like heaven in a bottle.
- Somewhere to put shower things (not on the floor).
- Extra towels and make them fluffy! Try Casaluna from Target.
- Offer a nice little basket of things your guests may have left behind (travel size toothpaste, q tips, razor, etc.) I love this one from Pottery Barn.
In conclusion, I know there is a lot to do and think about with a rental property. Even getting your property to baseline is a huge undertaking.
But as the STR market continues to grow, adding some luxury for your guests will go a long way in making you stand apart by getting those amazing reviews and repeat bookings.
When you dazzle and delight your guests, you will stand out. It's as simple as that.
If you're feeling overwhelmed with how to style and stage your rental, don't forget to start with the right Design Style! Have you taken our FREE Design Style Quiz yet for STRs?
Happy Hosting and lots of love!