AVE you a spare room lying empty? Renting it out on Airbnb could be the way to have it earn its keep without any long-term commitment to a paying guest.
However, with more than 12,000 hosts renting to 800,000 guests in Ireland last year, it’s becoming more competitive.
Successful hosting comes down to the detailing, where not only do you have the bedroom and bathroom ready, but also provide a welcome basket with necessities like tea, coffee, bread, a box of cereal, and if they are renting the accommodation for a week or two, consider adding a bottle of wine.
Whether a guest is staying for one night or longer, the main thing they need is a bed, and, as we all know, the quality of a night’s sleep determines our mood the next day, so it’s paramount that a host understands the need for a good mattress and bedding.
James Hayes, owner of the Natural Sleep Company in Co Limerick, produces mattresses with an emphasis on natural materials like lamb’s wool, organic cotton and natural latex.
“It’s the bed you’re paying for with Airbnb, not the breakfast,” he says.
“The reviews will go up on Facebook and Twitter afterwards, so make sure it’s comfortable.”
Hayes offers five top tips:
- Get advice from the sleep specialist where you’re buying the mattress and choose a reputable brand. It doesn’t have to be expensive but do spend a little money for a mid-range product.
- Lie on the bed, don’t be embarrassed, and don’t discount it after putting just a knee or hand on the edge of it.
- Opt for something not too hard, not too soft. Bum and shoulders should sink into the mattress slightly and you should be able to place your hand under your lower back.
- Make sure when you lie on the mattress it doesn’t have a plastic cover which makes it difficult to assess the comfort level, and make sure it has side supports so it doesn’t cave away when you sit on the edge.
- Add a duck down duvet which feels light and gives appropriate heat regardless of tog.
All too easy to ignore, the quality of your pillows is key. Don’t think you can get away with cushions in a pillowcase if you run short of the real thing.
Mary Coughlan, bedding specialist at Casey’s Furniture, gives her five top tips:
- Sleep experts recommend using one pillow but it’s a personal thing so leave a selection in the bedroom for guests to choose from. These should vary in softness, height and natural and hypo-allergenic versions.
- Try out pillows in the shop while lying on a mattress.
- Use washable covers underneath the pillowcase.
- Consider shaped pillows for possible neck and back issues.
- Consider gel and memory foam for pressure relief, to create a cooling sleeping surface to avoid overheating and for their hypo-allergenic quality.
Textiles are the third consideration, starting with a good mattress protector — you don’t want your new mattress ruined by inconsiderate guests.
Then it’s sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases which should be new or in perfect condition, well laundered and ironed.
After that, towels ought to include a bathsheet and a hand towel per person, and remember to refresh them if your guests stay for more than two nights.
Hosts who really want to step up their game can opt for hotel-quality linens which are now readily available outside the trade.
One provider, www.higginsireland.com offers a complete package of linens and kitchen equipment if you’re kitting out an apartment or house to let.
Another wholesaler is linendirect.com, but if you covet the linens you had while staying in Hilton or Marriott hotels, they have their own shops selling everything from sheets to valances at hiltonhome.com and marriottshop.com.
Beyond the bedroom, ensure you have a clearly marked fire escape route, and rectify dangers like rickety stairs and rugs that might cause a trip up.
Check your insurance too — paying guests may not be covered — and check Airbnb’s host protection programme for the fine details.
Bear in mind your house is not a hotel and you don’t have to try to turn it into one.
It’s about finding the right balance between making the guest space comfortable, with just the right amount of charm, and respecting their privacy while still feeling comfortable in your own home.