Hosting a private room: Successful hosts share tips, benefits, & surprises

Administrator

cffec1a9202458a26ca2.jpg

 

Hosting a private room can have incredible advantages: attracting guests who value a local connection, making new friends from all over the world, and creating a sense of belonging right in your own home. It can also come with a few unique challenges, from sharing a kitchen to securing belongings. That’s why we asked experienced private-room hosts for their top tips. If you already host in a private room, their responses might help inspire some ideas. And if not, their suggestions may inspire you to start.

 

 

Make it obvious you have a private room

Sometimes guests scan listings quickly, so be as explicit as possible. Hosts have a few keywords they suggest using when you’re putting together your listing.

 

  • Write “room” in the headline and abstract, and send a welcome message before booking that includes “this is a private room and the [home] is shared with the host.” —Till + Jutta, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Remember to include: guests must be mindful that it's one's home where they are sharing. —Helen, Auckland, New Zealand
  • I am excruciatingly honest in the listing description. I repeat the big things: one bathroom, one antenna-only TV, gravel road, no wifi, no air-conditioning. —Laurene, Florence, Canada

 

 

Be upfront about who’s at home

 One of the big reasons guests choose private rooms over entire homes is to have a deeper connection with locals. So, it can be a surprise when there are other guests, family members, or pets in the home that they weren’t expecting. “Wait, who are you?” one guest commented about a private-room stay. “Everything was great...until the morning, when it was clear that my ‘shared bathroom’ was not shared with just the host, but also with three other rooms she rented out.” These hosts have found that setting expectations is key:

 

  • Be clear on your listing that it is a shared space. When I first started hosting, I felt like I had to tiptoe around and not have anyone drop in, but this is not sustainable. So I have now written on my listing that this is a functioning home and that friends may drop in from time to time, etc. so they know up front what to expect. —Kath, Albany, Australia
  • A [female guest] might feel uncomfortable sharing bathroom with a male guest. A [male guest] might be having problems with the type of space he will have to share with other guests. You must ensure that the experience is as good as possible for guests, so make sure you are always clear in your communications. —Emily, Italy

 

 

Greet your guests to get on the same page

Welcoming guests in person is especially helpful if you’re hosting a shared space.  Many hosts told us that when guests arrive, they welcome them with a tour of the room and house, break the ice by sitting down for a tea or coffee, and chat about details like these:

 

  • Guests arrive tired and a little disoriented. If you [greet them] at the beginning of their stay, there are usually no problems. —Maria Jose, Spain
  • Upon check-in, clearly communicate what area guests can use and which are absolutely private. Don’t forget to say that you expect the kitchen to stay tidy, as there are some guests who come from cultures that cook and eat later at night. —Thomas, Basel, Switzerland
  • I make my rules clear in my house manual and chat to guests about lights, windows, quiet time, coming home late/early. —Paul, London, England

 

 

Provide specific, detailed House Rules

Keep your own schedule and needs in mind when you create guidelines for how guests interact with your space.

 

  • Guests can use the kitchen to make food, but I specify our own meal times so we don’t feel invaded. —Francoise, Paris, France
  • Specify if they can use the washing machine and the shower freely or only during certain time slots. —Emily, Italy
  • For me, saying this is paramount: "This is a non-smoking home." Guests are allowed to smoke on the back patio so that non-smokers can sit on the front patio. —Gerlinde, Kempen, Germany
  • Be friendly and flexible, but do NOT be a pushover! My check-in is 4 p.m. and you ask to check-in at 10:30 a.m.? I reply: "Unfortunately that will not be possible as my current guests won't check out until 11 a.m. and it takes a couple hours to make sure the room is cleaned completely. If you'd like to drop your luggage off at 11 a.m., I'm happy to allow that and arrange to have the room cleaned a little early for you. How does 2 p.m. sound?" —Suzanne, Wilmington, North Carolina

 

 

Make the stays memorable

Personal touches such as homemade breakfast, decor by local artists, and even a piece of chocolate can make a guest’s stay special. Here are more ideas from hosts:

 

  • For me [breakfast is] the most fun time because we converse a lot. Many guests choose my listing for the organic breakfast, which is in the title. —Celine, Saumur, France
  • I slept in the private room I've listed to get a feel of it to establish how warm/cold it can get, and experience it first hand how guests would experience it. I've added a natural timber, tiered plant stand beside the bed where guests can place their phones, books, drinks, etc., and it’s become a talking point. —Helen, Auckland, New Zealand
  • I added leaflets about the city, magazines. We [decorate with] paintings by local artists. Guests appreciate this and often ask me where they can buy them. We added a folding desk because we have a lot of guests on business trips. —Emmanuelle, Rennes, France
  • I arranged the rooms as I would like to be hosted. In the rooms, there are spare towels, a kettle with cups, tea and coffee, and glasses. There are even basic pharmacy items. —Christine, Clohars-Carnoët, France
  • I added an extendable plug and power strip, and each room has a night lamp. In the evening, I always put two glasses of fresh water out so [guests] do not have to get up at night, which means less noise. —Ana, Galicia, Spain
  • Supply ear plugs for yourself—seriously! Place a few Breathe Easy nose strips in a little dish with a little handmade sign: “If you feel like you would like to try, please go ahead!” —Cathie, Darwin, Australia

 

 

Ask about interaction

How do you know when to spend time with guests and when to give them their space? Hosts say it’s easy: just ask them ahead of time how much interaction they’d like to have. They also suggested some other details to keep in mind:

 

  • Some guests are shy because they’re scared of disturbing others, so I [invite] them to join others around the table. —Emily, Italy
  • Business people, I see little, as they are often with clients and they want to have their peace in the evening. For tourists, I give them a lot of insider tips for the city and sometimes they make it clear they want to do something together. And solo travelers are always well organized and have a lot of interesting political and cultural discussions. —Christa, Munich, Germany
  • Be open and neutral: your guests have different world views and politics. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn. Stay neutral to start with and let conversations evolve naturally. —Kath, Albany, Australia

 

 

You’re sharing a part of your home, but also a part of yourself. Once you have a few housekeeping details squared away, the benefits really begin. Paul, a host from London, put it best: “I see every guest as a chance to learn something new and get to know a person I may not have otherwise met! Some have been really interesting, been from a walk of life I have never walked, and have views and opinions I don't share. But I love meeting these people and sharing my space with them. There really is not much more personal than opening your private home to an absolute stranger when you are living there too, but also there is nothing more rewarding!”

 

Labels (2)
39 Replies
Nancy in
Delray Beach, FL
Level 2

My challenge is that I have one whole house thermostat.  The room is its own space and locked off from the rest of the house.  Guests have expressed concern they can't control temp.  I do have a ceiling fan in the room and keep it cool to my standards with the thermostat set to 74 degrees for AC.

I spoke with my AC guy and he said to close off my vents so the air is forced into that room but that isn't enough.  Any suggestions are welcome. 

Martha in
Bryn Mawr, PA
Level 1

I have this problem too.. I actually tell them where the thermostat is and let them know they are free to adjust it either up to a certain temp or down to a specific temp... I list this in my manual.. when I’m a guest myself, if I’m sweltering while sleeping that’s not a great experience for me

Diane in
Woodstock, GA
Level 1

I installed a nest thermostat so I could lock it and control it from my home.  Each of my guest rooms have an electric heater and a fan.  I ask guests if they use the heater to keep the door closed and please remember to turn it off when they leave the house.

Cameron in
Toronto, Canada
Level 1

A vent booster should resolve your issue.

 

Have any experience or thoughts on this product that I found at Lowe's? https://www.lowes.com/pd/SUNCOURT-Flush-Fit-11-625-in-x-5-625-in-White-ABS-Resin-Louvered-Register-B...

Teresa in
Bellingham, WA
Level 1

I put a portable oil heater (in the winter) and an a/c unit (in the summer) in the guest bedroom. 

Lynn in
Goldsboro, NC
Level 2

Offer a "guest use" fan & heater. I have one of each labeled in the guests area for there use needed. They are it labeled & know they can help themselves.

Regina in
Mexico City, Mexico
Level 2

I believe that as much as you can share from your home is the best for the guests as heaters, fans, magazines, some food, and as much as you can so they feel as Home!!

I also make up conversations to see what else they need and I do not know about it.

 

I am not an expert still--- but each  person teaches me something.

Be OPEN AND AWARE of every situation no matter how simple it looks .

Marianne in
Santa Fe, NM
Level 2

Such a great post!  Thank you!

I host a separate-entrance bedroom in an old adobe and just finished an adjacent room as a kitchenette/bathroom with small amenities for eating and drinking. I can now offer that, and limited food preparation facilites. Depending on the guests (vegan, out-of-the-country, 3 or more) I have extended main kitchen use if it seems appropriate as we have some what limited restaurant choices in my rural area north of Santa Fe - am finding (in my limited experience as a host) it easiest to offer more use of the whole house if it seems needed.  I have truly enjoyed the varied guests I have hosted as I  love diversity AND conversation!! Thanks for the tips about where to send smokers and the oil heater!  

Helen in
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 10

@Cameron@Teresa@Lynn@Regina@Airbnb

 

Thank you for including my suggestions, alongside others in the Airbnb community in this monthly newsletter, I hope you all enjoy them in general terms.

 

re Air Conditioning you may or may not be aware that is discussed elsewhere also in the Community Centre - use the keywords "Air conditioning" in the search box and that info will pop up.

 

There's an alternative to using air conditioning, it's called going back to nature, if it's cold, pop on a natural wool jersey / sweater and socks, if it's to warm for one, open a window and breathe in the fresh air.

 

With modern technology sometimes there's consequences that we should perhaps look at in the wider arena and address for future generations including how buildings and homes are constructed for the betterment of ones health and the environment.

 

All the best

Steven in
Burnaby, Canada
Level 2

We solved this for under a $1,000 USD by installing a small air conditioner and an electric baseboard heater.  Adjust rentals to recover costs.  Professional installation is important.  Make sure your home policy covers paying guests.  

Mrs Mac in
England, United Kingdom
Level 3

Nancy - you are in a hot spot of the US - whilst we in the UK generally have lower temps.  However, we do have a large floor standing fan which will gives a lovely breeze.  Might that help?  Or could your budget run to a small A/C unit just for that room?

Best wishes.  Mrs Mac.

Kristy in
Loma Linda, CA
Level 2

I cannot afford high A/C usage in our summer months. I place this in my listing in a couple places, especially under "amenity limitations." I do the best I can to set expectations up front - this is a desert, it's hot. 

Diane in
Bingham, ME
Level 2

I offer 3 private rooms with 2 shared baths and am clear about who has access to the baths. I also offer use of my kitchen and dining room to those who want to prepare their own meals to eat on the premises. I also make it clear that this is my home. That works out pretty well for me. However, I am second-guessing my willingness to grant access to the entire house with guests, especially after getting a few less than stellar reviews (4-stars) for having dust and dust bunnies. Is there a line that should be drawn as to how clean the rest of the house should be? Or should I stop allowing guest use of the entire house....? 

Connie in
San Diego, CA
Level 2

I believe that setting expectations is important for both the host and guests, so I have a saved message I send to each guest with the most important info, ranging from the critical house rules to where to find amenities like extra towels. As guests have new questions or I encounter behaviors I want to discourage, I update the message for all future bookings. I also have a photo of my cat prominently placed in the photos of my home to alert anybody who didn't read my listing carefully, just in case there are allergies.

Brianne in
Milwaukee, WI
Level 2

I have this problem too - particularly with the August humidity - I try to communicate on the front end and even let guests sleep in a different room if it gets unbearable (old house problems) - may invest in a window unit this summer for guests. 

Merrill in
Oakland, CA
Level 3

When my guests from India complained that the house was cold, I told them that I would turn up the heat if they would put on clothes! They were in shorts, sleeveless tees and barefeet! 

At this point, 25% of what I get each night is paid out in utilities...sad.

Paul in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Diane I hope you are well!

 

For me at least, I keep every area of my apartment that my guests have access to as clean and tidy as I keep their private bedroom.

 

If you don't want to allow access to certain parts of the house because you don't have the capacity to keep it up to a guest standard then don't allow access- just make it clear on your listing and when you welcome guests.

 

The first guests I ever hosted were from Norway and were hosts too. and both lived very very busy lives, and I remember in their listing it warned that they were very busy and often not at home so there may be unwashed dishes in the sink or the odd clothing item on the floor in the bathroom- I suppose it's all about managing expectations!

 

My guests don't have access to my large amenities and storage cupboard where I keep my freezer, microwave and linens,  and other things I don't want on display- it has a lock on it as i'd be mortified if guests saw it- it's not unclean by any means but is messy and would shatter their illusions of my clean lines and minimal living style :)

Diane in
Bingham, ME
Level 2

I recently hosted guests who asked for the heat be turned up and even then they went out and bought a space heater, which they cranked way up. I discovered this when I went to check on one of them, who was ill. Disappointed to find that my oil AND electric bills went up by $140 that month...lost money on these folks.

Diane in
Bingham, ME
Level 2

Thanks for your input! Maybe I should warn guests that I do, indeed, live here and that the tidiness standards in the rest of the house may not be on the same par as the kithen, bedrooms and bathrooms. Most of my guests understand this, but a few don't seem to take that into consideration when walking through to get to the sleeping quarters.

Maggie in
Crib Point, Australia
Level 1

Have you thought about putting a portable aircon in the room?

Lindsey in
Ann Arbor, MI
Level 2

Neither my house nor my guest room have air-conditioning and I have decided against installation.  I know that some August days here in Michigan can be uncomfortable. The guest room has a ceiling fan and two windows. To help guests avoid disappointment and to avoid hearing a guest exclaim, "Oh, you don't have air-conditioning?!" I write the guest several days before check-in to advise them to review the house rules and the list of amenities provided. On hot days, I provide the guest with a filled water mister. A misted sheet is a great way to feel cool enough to fall asleep, especially with an overhead fan. I also make sure that the guest always has a thermos of ice water along with some fresh slices of lemon. (My guests do not have access to the kitchen.)

Level 2

Teresa, what kind of air conditioner do you have, a window air conditioner or a portable air conditioner? I am trying to decide which one to use.

Becky 

Becky in
Milwaukee, WI
Level 2

I have just one household thermostat also, so I list the ways the guest can control their own room temp when they check-in: (depending on season) the wall vent may be opened/closed,  there is a heated mattress pad (popular in WI winters), extra blankets in the closet, you may open the window if you wish, there is a space heater, box fan and overhead fan.

I get guests from every climate, there is no way I could make everyone happy! All of the above are used year round. I also make the bed in layers—sheet, lightweight blanket, cotton quilt, and added duvet in winter. 

Buddy And Sally in
Miami, FL
Level 1

Hi Cameron,

   this product looks great. Do you already have a fan in the room you're considering it for?

I do have fans in the rooms, but two of them get a little warm in summer. Let us all know if you use this product.

Sally

 

Abigail in
Llanfairfechan, United Kingdom
Level 2

The cup of tea and a chat works well for us - we can find out about the guests' plans, offer advice and they can feel comfortable with us. Also the tour of the house - much easier to specify rules when you're in the location. Even simple things like showing how the shower works and where light switches are makes guests aware they can use them!


Huma in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Helen

I totally agree with you. Unfortunately, there are many guests that don't and even if you just slightly hint at them maybe considering the environment, they look at you like you are trying to rip them off! Many people feel like they should be able to walk around in their underwear in the middle of Winter and would never consider putting on more clothes. I had one Russian lady tell me that back home they put the heating on full on 1st September regardless of the temperature and then they don't wear slippers in the house because it's too hot!

 

I had one guest stay in the middle of the Summer when it wasn't cold at all, but he went running in the pouring rain and, rather than take a hot shower and put on dry clothes, demanded I put the heating on. He was very angry when I mentioned that we don't normally have it on at that time of year, and I mean angry! He said, "This is not warm where I come from (Miami), so if I were you, I would put it on NOW."

 

I have a centrally heated home with one thermostat and I was  not about to melt myself and my other guests to keep him happy, nor watch my bills and carbon footprint skyrocket while the other guests opened all the windows to let out the excess heat. So, I gave him an electic heater for his room just to appease him. He spent his whole stay dressed in a vest top and shorts.

Therese in
Daventry, United Kingdom
Level 2

Absolutely Abigail - I do exactly the same and its a definite ice breaker!  Have even been known to spend the rest of the evening chatting over wine with my guests.  Its about how comfortable you feel with your guests and addressing both their and my own expectations.  I always get a little nervous before guests arrive so how must it be for them.

Helen in
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 10

@Connie it's also useful to have that info tucked away in your House Rules and in your Private House Manual

Helen in
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 10

@Theresejust relax and don't feel nervous.

Enjoy life and meeting new people.

 

All the best

Sison in
Quezon City, Philippines
Level 2

I've been hosting private rooms for only 6 months but thru experience I've developed some House Rules that other's may find useful: 

 

A Php 3000 Environmental Deposit would be collected from guests upon entry. We are quite strict when it comes to the following: 
1. Missing towels/linen.
2. Smoking(cigarette butts/ashes)- not allowed inside building, allowed outside (10mts  away from Bldg.) but PICK UP butts and keep ashes in proper receptacles(provide your own ash tray).
3. Blood/vomit- stained linen and towels, vomit outside of toilet bowl or provided vomit containers. Vomiting in the sink causes plumbing problems. In case you really need to, use toilet paper to clean up (not towels)and throw in trash after.
4. Trash/Leftover food- Do not leave trash/food out in common areas, this will  attract stray cats and flies. 
5. Noise- as we are located in a private compound with other residents, no loud noise in public areas after 10pm. No karaoke machines, loudspeakers etc. allowed.
6. Party decorations- If you put up extraneous party decorations like balloon, streamers, etc. please take them down and home with you, and make sure not to damage or stain the walls/ceilings when putting them up or taking them down.
7. Flushing in toilet Bowl- Do not flush/throw tissues, napkins, cigarette butts or any  non immediately biodegrable in the toilet bowl. Throw them in the trash bin.
8. Cleanup after use- as we have shared spaces please clean up your trash and  common use items like plates, utensils, dining table and kitchen counter after use as a courtesy to other guests.
9. Trash segregation- segregating trash is strictly enforced by City ordinances. We have separate bins for biodegradable and non biodegradable trash. Please throw trash in the correct receptacle.
10. Doors and Windows- please keep doors, windows and screens closed at all times,  this is for your own security and health as we do not want intruders or mosquitoes inside the house.


Deposit will be forfeited if any of these conditions were discovered upon checkout otherwise deposit will be refunded in full.

 

Guests must sign a waiver if they intend to go to the pool area, since this is a private residential compound there is no lifeguard on station.

 

Please don't leave personal belongings unattended in common areas.

 
Luigi in
Venice, Italy
Level 4

I do have 2 shared bathrooms for 3 rooms, as I rent a room , the guests can use their room , the shared bathroom and the common areas. I did travel for over 40 years and leave in hotels for the same time as I have managed groups of hotels all my life. The most important thing for me is to find an extremy clean room and place where to staty. I don't let the people to use the entire house as I have people from 57 different cities every monts and almost 2000 guest every year in my house all very nice but for many of them the meaning of the world CLEAN or  is not he same for me and my family. I can not let people cook  like in a camp or a hostel as this is not a nice experience for the other guests in the house. Every thing is clearly state on the listings.

April in
Oldsmar, FL
Level 4

Same issue. I live in Tampa FL, where a/c is brutally expensive, so I keep my thermostat higher. 

I've done a few things to my guest room and haven't gotten any complaints so far:

-I "mirror tinted" the window that gets the most sun (in addition to shades and light gauzy curtains.

-I have a ceiling fan in there

-I keep a fan (and a self-regulating portable space heater) in their closet.

-I use all light weight breathable bedding with other weight options in the closet. 

 

There's not a lot else I can do...the point of doing Airbnb is to make money, not spend everything on higher power and water bills for people staying.

April in
Oldsmar, FL
Level 4

I have a question about the profile picture change. Does anyone else find it disconcerting and totally unfair? 

 

I understand the move, but I feel a few have ruined it for all. As a host who has NEVER discriminated against any race, religion, gender or age (and I have the reviews to show for it), I'm also a single woman hosting from my shared home. I feel I have the RIGHT to know exactly who is coming in. As is, I feel Airbnb doesn't provide ENOUGH protection and verification. Now they're pulling the profile pictures until we book? And of course, we're screwed if we cancel. 

 

It's frustrating that the entire Airbnb experience is geared toward the renter, not the hosts. Everything is focused on being about them: their safety, their money in cancelation policies, their happiness. 

With every change meant to improve, I feel it's one more right stripped away from hosting - and it makes me more and more reluctant to do this. 

 

I live in a crazy state, which is also a huge tourist destination. Florida crime is so insane, random and unmotivated at times, it befuddles even the best investigators. My family has been against this from day 1. Now, with no photos for potential renters, they're really having issues. 

 

Am I alone in this creeped out feeling? 

Suz in
Pittsburgh, PA
Level 2

I also nondiscriminate.  Hosts should be allowed to view profile photographs, absolutely.  Any photographs which are not full frontal, and without huge mirrored sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat which covers one's face, should be a must.  Going in the wrong direction, to my way of thinking.

Cathie in
Darwin, Australia
Level 10

Hi @Rebecca. Although expensive, if space is difficult,  Consider a reverse cycle air conditioner. Split system. Whatever you buy, you should be able to claim something, although small, on tax. Check with accountant. In wall is usually capital so different from stand alone. But I’m no expert and would keep your floor space free. Depending on where you live, there are subsidies for remakes or small refurbishments from state Govt. (Stimulating economy)

Bill in
Boulder City, NV
Level 2

I provide a many complementary amenities. I tend to get a lot of people from out of the United States. 1 amenity that I overlooked that I recently added was electrical converters from Europe to the states. Simple plugin that allows guests to use their electrical devices in America. Under $4 for two on Amazon

Matthew in
Reading, United Kingdom
Level 1

I recently installed a Nest thermostat too.
It let's me control the heating when I am away and also let's me set the min and max that guests can set it to.

April in
Oldsmar, FL
Level 4

Yep.

Rebecca in
Aberystwyth, United Kingdom
Level 2

We've only had one issue where an individual hadn't fully read the description and so hadn't realised this was a room in a family home...only so much a host can do...

Comment
You must log in to join this conversation.
cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: