Veteran Superhost Marcella Lentz-Pope created one of the most popular Airbnb listings in Brooklyn (and the world). Here, she shares her expert tips on opening up a private room in your home.
Actress Marcella Lentz-Pope is no stranger to strangers. Since 2013, she’s hosted thousands of guests from all over the world at her loft in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Whether you’re new to Airbnb and considering sharing a space in your home, or an experienced host looking to improve your skills, read on for Marcella’s expert advice on making the most of private room hosting.
How I started hosting
I first started hosting in Los Angeles, where I shared rooms in my Downtown LA loft. When I moved to New York City in 2016, I brought hosting with me, and created The Funky Loft. The space was originally an open and bare studio which I immediately built into a four bedroom apartment—three of which I share with guests throughout the year. I decorated it with eclectic vintage pieces, plants galore and unique furniture. Because of its style, it attracts a lot of photographers so I also list it for photo and film shoots. Over the years I’ve learned quite a lot from sharing my home. If you’re nervous or unsure about how to start sharing your space, here are some tips that might help you feel more comfortable.
Marcella’s Tips for Private Room Hosting
1. Know thyself.
Be honest with yourself! Hosting a private room in your home isn’t for everyone. If you’re someone who values privacy above all or you’re very protective of people touching your belongings, hosting in your home may not be a good fit for you. But—if you’re a bit more open to sharing your space, it can be incredibly rewarding.
For me, it’s nice to come home at the end of the day and have people there. It’s like coming home to a big family. I love that I can just go downstairs and hang out with someone from halfway around the world. I really enjoy it… and you might too!
2. Make your rules a must-read
It’s super important to make sure your guests read your house rules to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This is important for all hosts, but especially when it comes to sharing the space. To make sure no one misses my rules, I actually put them in three places: I write all of my rules and important information directly in my listing description, as well as under the House Rules section. In my home, I also leave a printed copy in a binder in the common area in case they’d like to familiarize themselves with the rules again.
When a potential guest writes me or uses Instant Book, I’ll ask them: “Did you read the house rules? Do you have any questions about them?” This helps ensure that everyone knows exactly what to expect before they arrive.
Over the years I’ve learned that common sense isn’t always common. People come to your space from different backgrounds, upbringings, and cultural norms. So think about what makes your home different than others. Do you have set quiet hours? Do you prefer that guests remove their shoes when they come in? Do you allow Airbnb guests to bring their own additional guests over? We all have boundaries and they’re important to make explicit.
Also know that your rules will evolve. You’re going to make mistakes, but mistakes are important. I remember the time a guest brought a stranger over without telling me. I thought that was an obvious rule for a shared space. After that experience I learned that I needed to put a rule into the listing stating that guests can not invite other guests over who are not part of the original booking. You’re going to learn from these moments. Experience is honestly the best teacher you can have as a host.
And remember, these are specific to her home!
3. Take time for face time
It’s important to me to meet my guests in person. I want to be there to welcome them, check them in to the space, give them a tour, and go over any ground rules myself. It’s a chance for me to see their reaction to the space, ask them questions I might have, and learn a bit about who I’m sharing my space with. It makes them more comfortable and you more comfortable. Guests love that little extra touch and often mention it in their reviews.
When a guest books, I’ll ask them when their plane/bus/train is arriving and factor in travel time so that I can plan my schedule accordingly, and be there to greet them. For people who are just beginning their hosting journey, this can be a great way for you to ease any uncertainty. You’ll likely discover “Oh, I like these people. This is awesome!” If, for some reason I can’t be there myself, I’ll have a trusted friend show them everything—then I can say “hi” later in the day.
This is my way of doing things, and I think it’s a great approach, especially when you and your guests are sharing your space at the same time. But I know not every host can personally check their guests in. Lots of people allow guests to check themselves in by providing lock boxes, and that can work really well, too. It’s all about finding out what works best for you.
4. Set clear boundaries
When you’re opening your home to new people, it’s important to be very clear about which spaces and items are communal, and what’s private just for you. It’s nice to make space for your guests’ belongings by clearing a drawer for them in the dresser, making space in the fridge for their food, and putting some empty hangers in the closet. You can show people at check-in what things they can and can’t use and what spaces are private. Some hosts also use little signs indicating when a space or item is personal and not to be shared if that jives with their design sensibility!
If you have valuables or important documents to protect, I recommend getting a safe or lock box. If you have one, a room designated in your house that’s locked with a key just for you. I also offer lockers for guests to use and store valuables if they want to bring their own lock. That's the thing about a shared space: if you're trusting them, they're also trusting you.
5. Keep it communal
Design your communal spaces to be inviting and comfortable. It’s all about creating a welcoming vibe. Add touches and details that encourage people to meet, hang out, and feel at home. Of course, if they would rather keep to themselves, that’s also OK! For example:
Remember, anyone who has an extra room to share can be a host. You don’t need anything fancy; just an open mind—it’s the thoughtful little details that add up to a special experience!
Check out the full #howtohost series.
Yep, that issue happened a lot with me when I was first starting out as well. I have a very thorough process of talking to guests when they first send an inquiry or instant book. I go over all of the things that they need to know right then and there. So if you find that there is an issue that keeps coming up with your guests, address it to them when they first message you. That way if they realize they don’t want to stay there they will cancel the reservation before it is too late and both of you have bad experiences :)
for example “ thanks for booking! I just want to make sure that you read the house rules and are OK with everything? As it states guests do not have use of the kitchen so please let me know if that is an issue :)”.
Hope it helps!
Great advice. I picked up one rule to add to my list " no improvised guests". I also practice your "face time" philosophy. It sounds like you are a great host.
Great tips. Thank you for sharing them. I have a large house with three bedrooms for rent. My guests can use the kitchen, dining room, living room and deck. I have just added a TV room as well. The playlist sound like a great idea. Thanks again.
The loft is the best decorated of all I’ve been seen.
What about implements Building Regulation, staircase without fence, handrail etc.
No hard fealing
Thank you Marcella!
Are you a host looking to visit the Orlando Disney Universal area? https://www.airbnb.com/hosting/listings
Let's talk - please message me - we can definitely work out a price and the escape lodging you will love - I also welcome TIPS from you more experienced hosts. So please message me if you are thinking of visiting and want to work something out
Are you a host looking to visit the Orlando Disney Universal area?
2 bed rooms - 2 queen beds
Lots of things to do !
Hi Marcella115 in New York
I just read your suggestions, quite impressive. I live in the Bahamas, my name is Frances and have been meaning to spruce up my listing. I am glad I read your comments, I find them very helpful. I love your place!
I loved to "discover" your house and your history. When I was watching your video, I felt myself understood. Like someone talking to me, with a experience with Airbnb really similar to mine.
I got myself inspired by the way you organized all the important info in the description that I used as a model to my home. If you disagree, let me know and I can change it.
Thanks for your content, I learned a lot.
Wow, thanks for those tips , a universal adapter for international guest is vital for their computers and gadgets if they need it at home. Thanks a lot for that