7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10
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We had a recent poll on what kind of space you host, the results of which surprised our mod, @Quincy. According to the poll, cottages are more popular than anyone expected! One of my personal favorite types of homes, I was asked if I would share a few tips on how to make the most of your cozy space as a host.
 
First, let's take a moment to define what a "cottage" is. Our converted one room schoolhouse is not your traditional cottage, yet it falls best into that category.
 
-A cottage is a small home, typically in a rural or waterfront location. In British English, a cottage is often linked to holidays and vacations as well as farm labor. In American vernacular, its more likely to bring to mind a small home or a particular style of shabby chic decor.
-The term cottage is often used interchangeably with cabin which is defined as a small dwelling made of wood or logs in a wild or rural location. Log cabins have a strong visual and are often associated with remote, "off the grid" experiences.
-Tiny houses are rather a new twist on both of these modestly sized dwellings and are typically less than 500 square feet. Tiny houses may be mobile (on wheels) or stationary and are crafted from a variety of materials often with an eye toward sustainability.
 
I would argue that all three of these categories fit under a broad "cottage" umbrella in that they signify that the guests will encounter an intimately sized, free-standing home. So how to maximize the experience in these modestly sized spaces? These are my thoughts and I would love to hear what other hosts think as well!
 
  1. Play up the character. Cottages, cabins and tiny homes often have features that help them to stand out from the standard dwelling. In our particular case, our schoolhouse was erected in 1850 and converted to a residence in the 1930s. Built of solid stone that had to be dragged via mule sleds from local quarries, it certainly has a lot of quirks. Instead of trying to get our space to conform to an HGTV standard, we celebrate the unique features that speak to the handmade nature of our cottage. Have steep stairs? Gingerbread trim? Slightly off kilter floors? Reclaimed materials? Mention these things as a plus. Take pictures of the features that make your space different. That's the beauty of Airbnb after all-- the opportunity to experience an overwhelming diversity of spaces. So embrace what makes your cottage one of a kind!
  2. Decorate with intent. Choose your colors and furnishings carefully. In small spaces using a continuing color scheme throughout the entire house can make the home feel more cohesive and larger. Measure your sofas, dining tables and other large pieces to ensure they will fit with enough space to walk by comfortably. Use furnishings that are appropriate to the scale of the space. Consider durability and ease of cleaning when choosing your decor. Seek out small scale appliances and items that can be wall mounted instead of taking up valuable floor space. Don't forget things like light fixtures which can add tons of appeal, are useful and also difficult for guests to destroy!
  3. Consider your capacity carefully. The smaller the home, the lower your guest counts should be. My rule of thumb is that the capacity should not exceed the number of people who can comfortably sleep in the actual beds in my cottage. I do not count sofas nor air mattresses as sleeping spaces. In a cottage, cabin or tiny home, space is at a premium. I personally think its antithetical to a pleasant experience to try and pack the space with as many guests as can fit. Higher capacity also increases the wear and tear on an already elderly property and lowers the nightly price per guest (which often decreases the respect that guests have for the space.) So think about what makes sense for your diminutive dwelling, its plumbing, its parking, and your sanity.
  4. Do not neglect your outdoor spaces. As cottages, cabins and tiny houses are often found in rural locations, the great outdoors can be a big plus to attract guests to your listing. Features like a patio, fire pit, hot tub can be boons for bookings but may be expensive to install and require additional maintenance/safety concerns. Don't underestimate the value of lower cost items like string lights and pretty pollinator plants. If your listing is in an area with a natural feature like a great view, waterfront access, or hiking trails be sure that you make the most of those opportunities. Consider the approach to the space and the curb appeal. The drive in will be the first impression, so make sure the approach to your cottage is as welcoming as you can make it.
  5. Let your house guide shine. When you have a cute cottage, cozy cabin or tasteful tiny house, your house guide is your vehicle for introducing the space to your guests and giving the house its own personality. Emphasize the type of experience you hope to provide for guests. If your home is historic, give details of its past. Brand new and built for a purpose? Talk about your intent in creating this space. Name your cottage. Create a brand and use words in your guide that evoke specific feelings. Share pictures of before and after if you have made improvements. Write about your plans to restore, renovate or improve the space in the future. Add lists of where to find commonly asked-for items. Make your guide pretty and interesting reading. Use it to show that your space is loved and curated.
  6. Manage expectations from the beginning. If you are hosting in a unique space that is somewhat modest, you don't want to portray it as something it isn't. For example, our cottage is over 170 years old. It's NEVER going to be the Four Seasons. We shy away from words like "luxury" even though we do offer quite a few high-end amenities and our space is quite nice. Be selective in how you describe your space in your listing, and thoughtful about what guests should truly expect. Mention that you have wildlife around, or neighbors, or that guests may encounter insects. A floor plan is a great idea if you can add one to your listing. Under promise and over deliver is the way to go.
  7. Go big on the (little) personal touches. When guests book a cottage space, they are often looking for something authentic and different from their daily grind. Offer that in the way of the little "extras." Maybe its fresh eggs in the fridge from your chickens or a hand-written welcome note. Think about providing something small that is locally sourced, handmade or seasonally appropriate as a check-in treat. Do you have great fresh flowers that grow wild on your property? Fill a vase with them on the dining table.  Leave guides to star gazing or bird watching, or local flora and fauna. If you are a talented baker, homemade goodies can be an awesome treat (but just make sure that your guests don't have any allergies before you provide them.) Fill your shelves with your favorite books for guests to enjoy.  Collect old records from yard sales and create a music library with a record player. I have seen some hosts that even offer local artists work for sale in their space-- a great way to fill your walls with color AND help out some talented folks!
21 Replies

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Canary Islands, Spain
Level 10

A good rule of thumb is never more then 10 guests per flusing toilet no matter the space size of venue footprint.   🙂 .  Thanks for the share.   Good tips.  

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Hello6  ten guests?!  I say two! But Americans often have very specific ideas about how many people can share a bathroom. I never want more than 2 people sharing in our space. I have had some guests that argue but that is all our plumbing will handle.

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

Former Community Manager in
London, United Kingdom
Former Community Manager

Another excellent piece of content filled with great information, thank you @Laura2592 

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

Thanks @Nick! Happy to share 🙂

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 10

Thanks @Laura2592 @Nick @Hello6 @Quincy @Emilia42 and others for sharing your stories about your home areas in general terms.

 

Here's a couple of historical references that may be of interest to those in or wanting to learn more about Maryland and surrounding locations to @Laura2592 beautiful heritage property.

 

Salaries of School teachers - 1884

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/WCT18840415.2.18

 

Recommended school hours for children - 1888

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/BH18880601.2.16.1

 

Child Labour and Education - 1918

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19180824.2.68.5

 

Maryland School for Blind

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ODT19130301.2.97.3

 

 

 

 

@Laura2592  Do you know what the School House Building was originally named?
And who built it?

 

How far from La Plata is your home?

Violent Storm - 14 deaths School destroyed

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/WDT19261111.2.54



I've been delving into my favourite Papers Past here in New Zealand to learn more about Maryland's history!

Farming in Virginia and Maryland

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/TAN18890123.2.15.2

 

University of Maryland - School for Housewives and Floral Arrangements

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/GISH19500923.2.131.1

 

 

 

I also see Maryland was featured in films 'In Maryland"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Church Creek, MD
Level 10

@Helen427Hi.......I'm on Maryland's eastern shore.  My ABnB is just mins from the Harriet Tubman Museum, she is a legend down here.  Areas around here were used in the making of the film about her life. 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Tubman

 

The artist that painted this mural lives just around the corner from me.  Lovey is a family friend.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCqoOKPgU6Y

 

 

You may also be interested in knowing about St Michael's, the town that fooled the British.  I'm just 40 mins from there, it's always on my list of must visit places.

 

https://www.stmichaelsmd.com/

 

Speaking of La Plata, they had a horrible tornado back in 2002.  It crossed the Chesapeake Bay and landed 1o miles from me on Taylor's Island, it passed my son in laws Aunt and Uncle's house then took out the home of my daughter's friend, no one was home at the time, they live about 5 mins from me.  Tornadoes rarely happen in this area of the country.  My friend videotaped it coming across the bay, they had it on the local news and interviewed him, I tried to find it but no luck.  Maryland was also featured on the big morning show here...Good Morning America.  Can't remember how long ago that's been now, it was really interesting.

 

I bet New Zealand is full of history as well. 

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 10

Harriet 'Moses' Tubman was an incredible woman @Laura2592 @Kym6 
@Gillian120 @Quincy @Wende2 

 

Here's a song she sang if at any stage of the journey she were compelled to leave her companions and forage for supplies, she would disclose herself on her return  through the strain of a favourite little song :-

 

"Dark and Thorny is the pathway,

Where de pilgrim make his way;

But beyond this vale of sorrow

Lie de fields of endless day"

 

The 'Underground Railroad' for fugitive slaves

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DTN18990708.2.38.5

 

Harriet+Tubman

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Church Creek, MD
Level 10

@Helen427   Yes Harriet was a force to be reckoned with, the museum is rich with history about her.  Her portraits are featured in several areas around here.  Another famous slave is Fredrick Douglas, an amazing man also from the area.

 

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Helen427  our school originally served the families that worked on the Francis Scott Key estate. We have a lot of history on its origins. There is a picture in our living room of the last class and a caption about schoolhouses of this kind-- the original hangs in the county courthouse.  Maryland has a really interesting history. Founded by Catholics, Carroll County where my Airbnb is was actually named for a prominent clan of Irish chieftans, the O'Carrolls. 

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Church Creek, MD
Level 10

@Laura2592      Have you ever watched the show Who do you think you are.?  They had Chris O'Donnell on, he was Robin in a Batman movie and is on the show N C I S  LA.  He found out he was an ancestor to Francis Scott Key and get this, he didn't know who he was. 

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
New York, NY
Level 10

.@Laura2592 Informative post. We call our home a "cottage" because we are surrounded by MacMansions. Most guests feel that it is a nice size and cozy. Love the suggestion about offering local artwork for sale.

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Ann783 your home is lovely! It seems quite spacious for a cottage, but its all relative. Its kind of like the Vanderbilts calling The Breakers "a cottage"-- if its a house close to the sea, it qualifies. And you have some cottage-y decor. 

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Church Creek, MD
Level 10

@Laura2592   Hi......the cottage is so nice, I'll have to book you one day.  I've actually never been to that area.  Maybe when mosquito haven gets bad I'll head your way  =^)

Re: 7 Tips For Hosting From A Cottage

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Wende2 aw we would love to have you!  We will probably also be out your way again soon. I love visiting Easton, Cambridge and St Michaels. 

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