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

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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!”

 

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51 Replies

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

in
Delray Beach, FL
Level 3

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. 

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

in
Bryn Mawr, PA
Level 2

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

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

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.

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

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...

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

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

 

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

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. 

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

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 

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

in
Darwin, Australia
Level 10

Hi @Rebecca0. 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)

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

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.

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

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.  

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

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.

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

in
Loma Linda, CA
Level 3

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. 

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

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. 

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

in
Crib Point, Australia
Level 1

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

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