Offering holiday accommodation in your spare room is a great way of making a little extra cash. It’s also an ideal opportunity to broaden your horizons and meet interesting people from far-flung places. But how to do it? We don’t normally have empty rooms at home just waiting for holiday guests. If you have a room that’s not someone’s daily bedroom, there are nifty ways to keep it useful for yourself and comfortable for Airbnb guests.
CLEAR OUT AND ASSESS YOUR SPARE ROOM
Be honest with yourself about how many people your spare room could comfortably accommodate. It’s a mistake to try to squeeze two single beds or a double into a small bedroom. Far better is to decide from the start that your room is for solo travellers. What you can charge may be less, but your visitors will be more comfortable.
If it’s already used as an occasional bedroom, and has normal bedroom furnishings, your job is half done. If, however, you’ve used it for other things (say a home office, hobby room or handy storage space), you’ll need alternative storage for the items you need to move out. A few boxes of small personal items can be stowed away in the loft, but if there are larger items like furniture, self storage is a good option. It means you don’t have to sell or throw away the things you might want to bring back at some point.
Storage units are available in lots of different sizes, from lockers up, so you needn’t pay for more space than necessary or for longer than you want. You can also rent short term so you’re not committed throughout the year if you only need storage during a short letting period. Once you’ve got a tidy space, have a look at my styling tips to create a bedroom fit for a staycation.
CREATE A COSY GUEST SPACE
When it comes to fittings and furnishings, think about installing a deep shelf where guests can store a suitcase off the floor. Unless you’ll invite guests to share your living room, it’s a nice touch to place an armchair or small sofa in the room, along with a desk or table. You could also provide tea and coffee making facilities (with cups or mugs), a hairdryer, and maybe an iron with one of those small, fold-up, hanging ironing boards.
The idea is to make a private space that contains everything a short stay guest might need without them having to come and ask you for it. Little luxuries like a TV in the room or a selection of books and magazines can also help guests relax and feel at home. Some Airbnb hosts like to provide welcome packs to guests that include soaps and shower gels. Adding a few chocolates or putting flowers in the room is an easy way to make your guests feel valued.
DEEP CLEAN THE ROOM
You may not wish to go all out and bring in professional cleaners, but make sure you clean thoroughly, getting every scrap of dust off skirting boards, headboards and from under the bed. Reed diffusers help keep the air fresh and look pretty at the same time, or go for unobtrusive plug-in fresheners. As well as the room itself, consider other areas of the house your guests will use, and give those the same cleaning treatment. Sparkling bathrooms and kitchens are especially important.
SECURE YOUR PERSONAL VALUABLES
It’s unlikely anything would go wrong, but better to be safe than sorry. During the periods you’ll have guests, it’s worth considering locking away your most cherished possessions (such as jewellery, valuable furnishings, even your passport and irreplaceable documents) somewhere away from your house. You could ask a friend or family to take them for safekeeping, or decide it’s another good use for self storage.
TRY OUT THE ROOM
Finally, try to see the room through a guest’s eyes. Even better, spend a couple of nights sleeping in there. Do you need blackout curtains or sound proofing? Are the plug sockets easy to reach? Is the mattress comfortable? Those easily overlooked details become obvious when you’re personally using them. Make a list and tackle them before you start letting out your spare room.
Airbnb hosting can be both profitable and rewarding, so it’s worth taking time in the beginning to get everything as close to perfect as you can. It will be a ‘work in progress’, and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to switch things around once you start getting some real feedback from paying guests. Let me know if you think of any other things you’d want from a holiday let in the comments below.