How to outfit your short term rental

How to outfit your short term rental

As the saying goes, it is truly the small details that matter when it comes to outfitting your property for short term rental.  Ensuring that there are two plates for every guest, hooks on the back’s of the doors to hang a robe or a convenient charging station for mobile phones are the details that often get overlooked yet are so appreciated by guests.

Special touches in the bedroom

Without a good night’s sleep, it doesn’t matter how great an experience the rest of your short term listing is for a guest.  Focus your energy on outfitting the bedroom first:

  • Comfortable mattress - if yours isn't the greatest, buy a memory foam topper from Costco
  • Mattress encasement - no one likes to think that a guest could bring a bed bug with them but it is possible. Save yourself from a whole world of hurt by investing in a mattress encasement. This one from Amazon has great reviews.
  • White sheets - People like to know that the sheets are clean and nothing says cleaner than white sheets. The bonus is that you can bleach them. Have two sets for every bed so that you can make the bed without having to wait for the laundry to finish.
  • Duvet covers - Two sets per each bed. I buy mine at Ikea and they coordinate with the blue accent colours throughout the house making it a very cohesive colour scheme.
  • Four pillows per bed - two soft and two firm. Yes, Goldilocks is indeed staying at your vacation rental. And make sure you buy the pillow encasements as well.
  • Black out window coverings - some guests will appreciate having the dawn light streaming into the bedroom to wake them up naturally. Others, not so much.
  • Phone charging cable - if you don't provide a cable or at the very least an easy access plug, beside the bed, you will be constantly dealing with unplugged bedside lights. And sometimes it is awkward to have to plug them back in so save yourself the hassle and provide it.
  • Bedside table - even if it can only handle a phone and a glass, a bedside table or shelf is key.
  • Bedside light - If at any time you're going to read a book, it's on vacation. Make sure that each bedside has a light.
  • Hooks - I have hooks in each bedroom. If someone brings a robe, they can hang it up. I don't provide robes as it's more laundry and we're on a tight schedule for turnover as well as being on a septic system.
  • Hangers - if you have a closet, ensure there are plenty of hangers in it.
  • Throws - provide an extra blanket on the bed, just in case your guest gets chilly in the night
  • Sleep aids - our beach house can actually be noisy when the ocean is rough. I provide earplugs in individual packs. Another nice touch is a bundle of lavender, the scent of which is supposed to aid in falling asleep. A box of tissues is also a nice touch.
How to outfit your short term rental

outfitting the kitchen/dining room

It seems that kitchens in vacation rentals are getting more and more attention.  In a world where kitchen shows are top entertainment, many people see their vacation as a time to really enjoy cooking, testing new recipes and savouring their meals.  Make sure your kitchen is well equipped to handle all their needs:

  • Pots and pans - ensure that you have a variety of sizes and of decent quality. You can pick up great saucepans for a great price at Winners. I even bought some that go with my colour scheme.
  • Dishes - have at least two of everything per guest. You don't want them running the dishwasher with just four plates but it will happen if that's all you provide. Simple white means that everything goes together and can be bought inexpensively at IKEA.
  • Cutlery - have a full set of cutlery so that your guests don't have to wash any during the day
  • Coffee maker and kettle - I did provide a Nespresso machine but found that the capsules are very expensive so now just have a drip machine. We do provide coffee and a selection of teas.
  • Utensils - Spatulas, whisks, tongs, scissors, wooden spoons, etc...
  • Barbeque and propane
  • Extras - blender, mixer ...
  • Toaster and waffle maker
  • Cutting boards - leave these in plain view unless you want guests using your butcher block countertops as cutting boards - ouch!
  • Trivets - have an obvious place for hot pans to be placed. You don't want your butcher block or quartz scorched. Hey, that rhymes!
  • Serving dishes - We provide a nice selection of white serving dishes. People want to feel special on their vacation and this adds to the experience.
  • Tea towels, dish rags, scrubbing brush, oven mitts...
  • Placemats, table cloths and napkins
vacation rental kitchen

setting up the living area

The living area is where your guests will spend the majority of their time so you want it to be comfortable, functional and eye pleasing.  A selection of furniture that is easy to take care of will ensure a great stay and just as important, a great review!  What you don’t want to do is have your short term rental as a place where your old furniture goes to die.  I am all about upcycling and repurposing but if it’s not in good shape and comfortable, don’t use it. 

How to outfit your short term rental

don't overlook the bathroom

The bathroom is not the place to cheap out with your rental.  Ensure that you’re providing all the essentials that your guests could need.  

  • Toiletries - shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the shower. I don't like the waste of individual bottles so provide a big bottle of each
  • Towels - good quality towels with one wash cloth, face towel and bath towel for each guest. If you provide more than this, they will get used which slows down the laundry which in turn slows down the turnover.
  • Make-up wipes - this will save you throwing out your ruined face cloths. I just provide the round cotton wipes in a jar on the counter. Hopefully the guest has brought her own remover formula.
  • Hair dryer
  • Additional toilet paper - some hosts allow only one roll per stay. Really?????
  • Bath mat
  • Toilet plunger - this I have in the broom closet as it's so unslightly but could be necessary
  • Room spray - our cottage only has one bathroom so this keeps it smelly pretty
  • First Aid Case - filled with all kinds of bandages
  • Over the counter medications - I do provide Tylenol, Advil, Benedryl but waaayyy out of reach of little children. It's even out of my reach! I know that some might feel this is risky but someone having an allergic reaction 45 minutes from the closest hospital is even riskier. I will be looking into carrying an epi pen, a naloxone kit and an AED in the future.
  • Other items - sunscreen, bug spray, lotions, etc....
How to outfit your short term rental

Don't forget the outdoors

While the focus of how to set up your short term rental is on the indoors, the outdoors is just as important.  In our case, our guests are coming to experience the lake and so we try to provide everything needed (without causing a liability) for their enjoyment.

  • Outdoor seating - For a cottage, I love the look of traditional white Muskoka chairs. Add some comfortable padding and I could spend all afternoon on the end of the dock. On the deck, we provide a table and chairs for eating dinner as well as a seating area with a coffee table which is a great spot to enjoy a morning coffee.
  • Fire pit or fire table - for our lakehouse, we provide a fire pit and fire wood when campfires are allowed. For our beach house, we also provide a propane fire table on the deck overlooking the ocean.
  • Outdoor games - Croquet, ladder toss and badminton are great lawn games that anyone can play
  • Beach towels - often our guests from Europe are staying with us as part of a major road trip through the province. As such, they haven't packed any swim towels with them so I'm happy to provide these
  • Insulated wine glasses - they keep wine/beer cold and keeps broken glass off the dock
How to outfit your short term rental

What we don't provide

  • Watercraft of any kind - be that an inflatable, a kayak, canoe or paddleboard, our insurance prohibits us from providing anything that floats (and therefore could sink) with our listing.
  • Bicycles - see above
  • Hot tub - see above
  • Access to our garage - we use this to store our boat and personal items while the cottage is in use. There is plenty of room for parking as is.

Earn that coveted superhost status

With a ranking of 4.9 on over 100 reviews, I know how to outfit a short term rental.  I hope these tips will help you earn your Superhost status.  It is a process of constant improvement so learn from each rental and continually update as your budget allows.  It’s the perfect formula for success.

And if you find it all overwhelming and need a bit of design help, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, as eDesign is an easy option.  Just click here to learn how it works.

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