Dear Vacation Rental Property Owner

6 Feb
Dear Vacation Rental Property Owner (be you with VRBO, AirBnB, HomeAway, Sabbatical Homes, or Bob’s Pretty-Good Rentals),
There are a few 17 things I would like you to know about the needs and desires of travelers who rent your apartment or home. After several years of renting in both the U.S. and Europe, I find there are quirks or things lacking that, if corrected, would make a huge difference in our comfort level and willingness to return to or refer your property to others. I am not amused by your flea market furnishings or good-enough-for-a-college-student kitchen ware. I am appalled when you ask me to clean, and I am confused by the widely varying approaches to recycling.
  1. Put a chair in the bedroom(s) where one can sit to put on shoes and socks. I am short and when I have to sit on a high bed to put on my undies or socks, it’s very uncomfortable. I’m not asking that the bedroom be furnished like Versailles, but a bedroom with only a bed, a small table, and a dim lamp is not really furnished.

    OK, nothing this bad,m to date, but we've had our share of drapes sagging on wire and shades that won't stay up...others won't stay down.

    OK, nothing this bad, to date, but we’ve had our share of drapes sagging on wire and shades that won’t stay up…others won’t stay down.

  2. Make sure things work and are in good repair. Do the curtains, drapes and window blinds hang neatly and are easy to open? We’ve seen cockeyed blinds, drapes where the rod or support is drooping, shutters half falling off the wall. We’ve had a washing machine fail to drain leaving us with a soggy mess. My favorite was the water heater that did not turn itself off and heated water to scalding. The owner’s solution: turn it off during the day and on at bedtime. After all, why would you need hot water during the day?
  3. There should be more than two wine glasses in the cabinet. And it would be nice if they matched.
  4. We have indeed found broken glasses, hidden in closets by prior guests.

    We have indeed found broken glasses, hidden in closets by prior guests.

    The coffee pot must work. We checked into one apartment in Italy where they had the teeny tiniest single-serving Moka pot but the gas burners were too big for it. I could not set it properly on the grate over the burner: it fell through! So no coffee in the morning, which is one of the main reasons we like to rent apartments. If you supply a drip coffee maker, make sure there are filters. I’ve had to make them out of paper towels, which of course I purchased myself because there were none.
  5. When we check in at midnight to your check-yourself-in-no-one-will-meet-you-there’s-a-lockbox apartment, the toilet paper supply should consist of more than 12 sheets on the last roll in the place, and there should be hand soap. We have had to buy these items in several apartments. I don’t expect fancy little bottles of shampoo and lotion, but some hand soap would be nice in the bathroom.

    Please supply a spare few toilet rolls. Arrivng late one night we found our apartment down to a few precious sheets.

    Please supply a spare few toilet rolls. Arriving late one night we found our apartment down to a few precious sheets.

  6. Ditto in the kitchen: dish soap, paper towels, a hand towel or two. I should not have to buy dishwasher detergent or even soap for washing dishes in the sink.
  7. I am happy to run the dishwasher as I leave the premises, but please don’t expect me to strip the bed and wash the sheets and towels, too. It is YOUR responsibility to clean the place for the next guests, not mine. In one Portland, Oregon apartment, we were asked to strip the bed and start the washer while paying over $200 a night.
  8. Believe-it-ot-not, we actually make our bed wherever we are staying, but I do not hink I should have to wash the linens.

    Believe-it-or-not, we actually make our bed wherever we are staying, but I do not think I should have to wash the linens.

    In conjunction with #7, do not charge extra for cleaning. It’s really irritating to have to pay a cleaning fee when the rent is already $200 a night! Build it into the price. Maybe give a break for staying 4 or more nights since you won’t have to clean the place as often, or charge a little more for short stays to cover those times when it has to be cleaned two or three times in a week. And reasonable, please! I pay €48.00 a week to have my 1000 square foot apartment cleaned in Rome. Why does it cost €110.00 to clean your 600 square foot vacation let?

    Mommy Dearest would be appalled! So am I...

    Mommy Dearest would be appalled! So am I…

  9. Have some decent hangers in the closets and plenty of them. No wire hangers from the cleaners. Go to IKEA or Target and load up on nice wooden, or even heavy-duty plastic, hangers. If your guests are staying a month, they will need more than 6 bent wire hangers.
  10. We cannot intuit your city’s recycling and trash disposal rules, especially when we don’t speak the language. Explain the particulars and make sure your guests can comply without too much trouble. If you need to use pink bags for recyclable plastics and gray ones for garbage, supply them. We stayed in a place in Sorrento where the recycler only picked up plastics — in special green bags — on Thursdays and the plastics could only be set out on Wednesday evenings after 10:00PM.
    We were also admonished to remove all trash and recycling when we exited on Saturday. Since there was no place to put the plastics on Saturday we could not possibly comply. (See #8: it should be YOUR job to remove the trash anyway.)
  11. Expired food has to go.

    Expired food has to go.

    Periodically clean out the condiments and groceries left by prior guests. (Ironic that you want us to recycle and clean but you leave expired food in the house.) I never use the coffee left behind because it usually smells old. In a place we stayed last summer my husband tossed out a box of Cheerios that had an expiration date in 2013. It was July 2015 when he did this. Ric now makes it a habit to clean out the cupboards wherever we go. It’s a public service. Maybe you can label these items with the date you find them and if they are still there in 30 days, toss them out. 
  12. Reboot your router now-and-again. It helps the WiFi to function. By the way, strong, reliable WIFI is more important than almost any other amenity. We can no longer manage without it. It is the 21st century equivalent of “Direct Dial Phones!” in mid-20th-century motel rooms. We don’t need no stinkin’ phone, but we require WIFI. 
  13. Sort through the travel brochures and books left behind and only make available the latest and most reliable information. No sense leaving the Rick Steves’ 2010 Italy guide out when it’s 2015. Things change. The last guest’s crumpled map of downtown is not appealing. We’ve seen piles of tourist info in apartments that would make kindling for a bonfire. Maybe the visitors’ center can give you a stack of new maps to hand out. 
  14. When I wake up in the dark in a new place, I cannot remember what direction the bathroom is. Put a nightlight in each bathroom and supply a spare bulb. We need that for orientation when we wake up at night in a strange location. If you do not supply a nice low wattage nightlight, I have to leave on the overhead.

    Remember the elegance of a 1950s motel room? Many B&Bs in Europe have about as many electrical receptacles.

    Remember the elegance of a 1950s motel room? Many B&Bs and vacation apartments in Europe have about as many electrical receptacles.

  15. If your place is wired like a 1950s-era motel in Nebraska, please provide a power strip. I hate to crawl on the floor unplugging lamps so I can charge my phone. There should be a couple of convenient outlets for charging electronics. I should not have to put the phone in the bathroom or the iPad on the floor to charge them.
  16. If controlling the television requires an 8-year-old’s insight to the medium and the ability to juggle four remote controls, provide detailed instructions on which combination is necessary to watch the morning news. Best idea: pictures of each remote with guidance on how to use it and which buttons to push so I can figure it out in a jet-lagged state when I wake up at 4:00AM.
  17. Bathrooms should have decent towel bars or hooks so we can dry the towels out between uses. I hate having to hang them over the shower door or rod. So tacky. It would be nice to have access to an extra set of towels if we stay more than 2 nights. How hard is it to supply a couple of extra towels just-in-case. And don’t charge for beach towels in a resort location when you are already getting €200.00 per night from us!
Consider sleeping in your own property for a couple of nights now-and-then. See how it is to be a traveler in your rental. Can you make coffee in the morning? Do you like to hang your blouse on a twisted wire hangar? Can you read in bed? Do the pillows give you a crick in your neck? Are there enough pillows?  Is there something you miss? Your guests probably miss it too. You might be a more sympathetic landlord if you know what your guests are experiencing.
P.S., Apartments we’ve loved have had:
  • Great WIFI
  • Lots of sturdy hangers (a dozen or more please!)
  • The Moka pot, Italian stallwart of the AM, must actually fit on the burner to work.

    The Moka pot, Italian stalwart of the AM, must actually fit on the burner to work.

    A crockpot so we could set up dinner and return from a day of hiking to a prepared meal (only happened once and it was so appreciated!)
  • More than 2 pillows
  • More than one set of towels for a stay of more than 3 nights
  • A Moka pot that makes two cups at a time (although we’d kill for a Nespresso machine)
  • Plenty of horizontal space for computers and personal effects
  • OUTLETS where they make sense! Bonus points to the apartment in London that actually provided a U.K. adapter! Double-bonus to our favorite apartment in Venezia where they have 110 and 220 outlets.
  • 4-or-more wineglasses and a corkscrew

    SMEG makes a fine toaster in Italy, but you seldom find a toaster in a gite.

    SMEG makes a fine toaster in Italy, but you seldom find a toaster in a vacation rental.

  • A welcome bottle of wine and chocolate (Can’t tell you how wonderful that was on a midnight arrival in San Francisco when we had last eaten a sandwich on the plane 6 hours earlier and after a transatlantic flight.)
  • A toaster (rare in Europe, loved by Americans)
  • Common condiments beyond salt & pepper: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, etc. so we can make a simple meal without leaving behind a month’s worth of supplies.
  • We love our wood hangers from IKEA. They cost next-to-nothing. ANd when I am somewhere for a week, I want more than 3 bent hangers.

    We love our wood hangers from IKEA. They cost next-to-nothing. When I am somewhere for a week, I want more than 3 bent hangers.

    Coat hooks by the door for our jackets
  • Towel racks in the bathroom

17 Responses to “Dear Vacation Rental Property Owner”

  1. nigewelly March 12, 2017 at 00:42 #

    This blog page may be an oldy but it surely is a goodie. It is truer by the day. You have brought back some really yukkie memories (dried mushroom soup in the kettle – are you kidding?? (Prati in Rome)) and some great ones – we cat sat in Rome for a lady who made the stay perfect, including photos of the remotes. You might know her….


    • Laurel Barton March 12, 2017 at 06:17 #

      Dried soup in the kettle!?!?! Indeed yukkie! I should update this with more recent annoyances, like the place at the Oregon Coast we stayed while our house was being painted before we moved in. They had left us 3 electric space heaters “in case we got cold.” Yeah, well, the reason it was cold in there is the heating wasn’t working properly! Why repair the furnace in February when you can just give the renters space heaters?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Melissa March 11, 2017 at 11:34 #

    Having spent a couple of years as a vagabond who rented a few apartments from Airbnb in the US, I am with you on all of these points. My pet peeve is the leftover food that has long since expired and on the other end of the spectrum, not having even sugar to put in my tea in the morning (at least I had the tea since I always carry tea bags with me).


    • Laurel Barton March 11, 2017 at 14:37 #

      Thank you for your comment! I was just re-reading this post yesterday and thinking of reviving and reblogging it based on more adventures in rentals! May have an update coming.


  3. Nigel February 8, 2016 at 19:14 #

    one senses a raw nerve…


    • gooddayrome February 8, 2016 at 21:32 #

      You have such insight!

      I have been working on this list in my head since our U.S. trip last August. I got fed up when a rental in Antibes told me last week that on top of the rent, which was not insignificant, they wanted Euro 110.00 for cleaning after 4 nights. Mannaggia!


  4. Chloe Erkenbrecher February 7, 2016 at 03:12 #

    We have stayed in several rentals and the best one we found was in Rome in the Prati area. It had everything one would need and was spotlessly clean. I could have lived in it for a year and been happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gooddayrome February 7, 2016 at 05:37 #

      We like Prati. Really thought of moving there but Parioli is familiar after all these years so we stayed. Our apartment is not without its quirks, but the price cannot be beat for a long-term rental. (Not exactly a vacation rental at this point.)


  5. Susan February 6, 2016 at 22:35 #

    I agree that your list should be sent to VRBO and the like. Would make the travel experience better for everyone . Hope your stay at Casa Bravenec met the requirements… I think so, but do let us know if we were lacking. At least we handled all the Seattle recycling demands ; )!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gooddayrome February 7, 2016 at 05:29 #

      Casa Bravenec was a perfect place to stay! Lovingly-supplied with all we needed!

      We had a great place in Ortisei, too, when we were together. I don’t think we found anything amiss there.


  6. mvaden1948 February 6, 2016 at 17:51 #

    Can I put a tripple like on this one?
    People ask why I always rent the same place in Venezia….because I know what to expect. I stayed in another place before I found the one I love where they provide two almost empty tp rolls for a two bedroom apt for two women for five nights. It had a dishwasher with no soap or instructions for use and no regular dish soap for hand washing the dihes and only a tiny little bar type sink. The “dining table” was you typical north American picnic table….complete with splinters. That was strange because the rest of the furniture was lovely. The two burner hot plate was okay for the moka but you couldn’t really cook because you couldn’t use both burners at once. All for €250 a night. Oh, could never get the wifi to work for more than a minute.
    My beautiful apartment where I have stayed twice…for a month each time…has a book on the table with instructions ( in Italian, English, French, German and Chinese!) for operating everything. Inside the cupboard is the complete instrctions for putting out garbage and recylcing. There were three mokas of varying sizes and a wire grate for putting it on the lovely gas range and there was no extra charge for cleaning. My only complaint..I did have to buy more bags for garbage etc. This place cost me €2000 for the month and included a weekly cleaning lady who changed sheets and towels and amazingly washed the windows inside and out. If I left a cup in the sink she washed it. Is it any wonder that I go back? Oh, great, superfast wifi and cable TV with hundreds of channels (but just like home….too many shopping channels). His regular hi season rate is €150 a night…..less for stays of a week or more.
    Of course I am very disappointed when I go somewhere else and they are like the ones you listed.
    And I don’t think any of the landlords read Conde Nast.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gooddayrome February 7, 2016 at 05:27 #

      That is a great story Marcia! I may need to get a referral from you on your favorite place once of these days. That is like gold! We have one we like there, too, but we can’t always get it. Last trip was short so we pampered ourselves in a B&B.


  7. Gayle Seely February 6, 2016 at 17:00 #

    This needs to be sent directly to both HomeAway and VRBO. So sorry the Portland Oregon place was such a pain. Next time stay with us – we are close to the Max and yes, we have a Nespresso. I agree TP is the worst. But I think maybe no coffee is worse that poor WiFi. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gooddayrome February 6, 2016 at 17:05 #

      I was thinking about that…. Or maybe I’ll send to Conde Nast. 🙂

      *Laurel L. Barton* *Roma, Italia*

      On Sat, Feb 6, 2016 at 5:00 PM, gooddayrome wrote:



  8. gooddayrome February 6, 2016 at 16:20 #

    Interestingly, that was the same place: no toilet paper (I carry kleenex thank God), but wine & chocolate. We went shopping early the next morning….

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Marcia Kakiuchi February 6, 2016 at 16:18 #

    The absolutely WORST thing on this list is not having enough toilet paper! Arghhhhh. And for those places you’ve stayed that had a bottle of wine (or for me, having bottled water provided!) and a few chocolates….that’s a huge wow!!!!

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Even a great trip can have it’s share of problems | gooddayrome - November 6, 2016

    […] Somebody from the staff needs to stay here a few nights and realize what improvements could be made. (See Dear Vacation Rental Property Owner.) […]


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