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The Ultimate Setup Guide to AirBNB Hosting in 2020

The Ultimate Setup Guide to AirBNB Hosting
Thinking of signing up to be an airbnb host?
Friends of Improvised Journeys may use our referral LINK!

Fluffy towels, excellent wifi, and a great cup of coffee are just the beginning to setting the bar for what a great airbnb stay really has to offer.  These days airbnb is about an experience rather than just a place to get through the night. So, how do you create a magical wonderland for your guests that is worthy of superhost status? Read on for insight into how to set up your airbnb space and learn what touches will leave a lasting impression.

Each guest starts their stay at the door and the coded key entry (THIS) makes arriving simple and can be changed remotely and assigned to each individual guest.  It does not have to be fancy but opting for a reliable lock system will ensure you do not have guests unable to get in or getting locked out.

When the guest first opens the door first impressions are important but what is imperative is that they feel clear direction addressing all the aspects of their stay. 

Welcome Station

  • Consider setting up a greeting station front and center with the following:
    • House rules
    • Room keys and a sign directing them to their room (unless the whole house is available) 
    • Wifi sign-in info posted in common areas as well as individual rooms (THIS
    • Directions for breakfast – (a section of the kitchen featuring a breakfast nook with items like bananas, coffee, etc. give that extra special touch!)
    • Guides or manual with a list of what is available and where they would find it (this is great for occasional use items such as heating pads, extension cords, etc.)

Staying at an Airbnb is about the home experience–rather than just a place to sleep as most hotels tend to be.  This said, the bedroom is probably the most important room to address. 

We have slept on many uncomfortable mattresses and can honestly say this has been the defining factor of if we enjoyed the stay.  Getting a crummy night’s sleep (or lying awake all night) when you are paying for an experience is a major downer. You may think, “Well, a mattress is an enormous investment and I am trying to get ahead on my investment.”  First, I have to say that investing in an expensive mattress is unnecessary, but having a comfortable mattress is so key! 

Want your guest to have their best night sleep ever??
Spa Sensations 8″ Memory Foam Mattress, Size: Queen
You could even get one for yourself! THIS is the mattress we sleep on!

Highly recommend THIS mattress!  We actually have this mattress in our own bedroom and have never had a better night’s sleep (except for maybe sleeping at the Vdara in Las Vegas!) Having owned $1,500 mattresses in the past, I can say we have never slept as well on anything else! What is truly great about this bed is it comes in a box, is very inexpensive, and is phenomenally easy to set up. 

The bed foam and does not need a box spring – works best as if you have a platform bed. You can get a queen for ($263 at the time of this post) and if you only had $500 to invest in your airbnb setup THIS mattress would be worth the investment. ALL of your reviews WILL mention how good a night’s sleep was had on this mattress. You may end up getting one for your own bedroom. I can’t gush enough about it.

Items to consider for the bedroom depending on your set up investment are:


  • Comfortable Mattress – We recommend THIS
  • Mattress Platform – We recommend THIS 
  • Mattress protector – we use THIS allergen specific one and it also helps keep the bed cool
  • Pillows
  • Comfortable sheets–with a multi set for quick change between laundry / guests turnover
  • Blackout curtains / shades 
  • Ceiling Fan and or desktop fan for airflow
  • Humidifier – this could really help someone not used to a dry climate 
  • Noise machine
  • Desk, chair, task light – has been important to our stays as we have valued working in private and getting business done. The bigger the space the better depending on your room size, as it is nice to spread out beyond just your laptop. 
  • Pens, notepad
  • Hangers in a closet or wardrobe and/or dresser
  • Extra blankets
  • Bedside table and night light
  • Phone usb charging station & extra plugins and cords for charging iphone or android
  • Lamps with 3 way bulbs (for ambient lighting)
  • Various cozy decorations

Getting a shower can be a simple process–but you could make your bathroom an oasis!  From simple to deluxe here are some items to consider including in the bathroom.


  • Towel rack and fresh towels – also a change of towels kept separate for quick change between laundry and guest turnover
  • Shampoo, conditioner, soap (we have seen THIS dispenser used in several airbnbs which hangs in the shower and is easy to refill)
  • Tub stopper – super important! Guests LOVE baths if you have a tub!
  • Bath mat
  • Extras – toilet paper refills, kleenex, floss, pads, tampons, hair dryer, alka seltzers, aspirin, heating pad
  • Basket / organizers for keeping the extras
  • Electric candle – this is a treat if you have a bathtub
  • External speaker or music player hookup for phone
  • Essential oils and diffuser (THIS one is deluxe and comes with 4 timers, 7 ambient Light settings, and 20 therapeutic grade Essential Oils)
  • Plunger in discrete area
  • Trash bin with liners
  • Various cozy decorations

The kitchen is optional in some airbnbs but our favorites have allowed us to use it as if it is our own.  I have a very special diet and being able to prepare meals with the stove and store a few items in the refrigerator made spending that extra bit of money worth the stay. Here are some items you may consider if you are including the kitchen as part of the communal space. You can source these items from thrift stores or opt to buy the best. Your choices will depend on how you are planning on setting up the pricing for your stays.


  • Cookware – including a pot to boil and a pan to fry. We personally love cooking on ceramic coated cookware or stainless steel.
  • Wok – quite useful for preparing large meals in small kitchens 
  • Spices – salt and pepper are essential but consider offering more – Basil, Turmeric, Oregano, Garlic Powder, Cinnamon etc.
  • Cooking oils – I really love cooking with coconut oil but this is just preference
  • Extras like Parmesan, Soy Sauce, etc.
  • Cutlery – basics are obvious but don’t forget other essentials
    • Forks, knives, spoons
    • Cooking utensils – spatula, spoon, ladle (opting for silicone will ensure these last and do not wear out)
    • Cutting board
    • Cutting knife or knife set
    • Potato peeler
    • Wine opener / corker
    • Kitchen Scissors
    • Strainer
  • Baking Pan and or Pizza Stone – This one is a major consideration. In the past we have loved to just pop by the store and grab a frozen pizza to take to the airbnb for a quick meal and have discovered no way to cook it! 
  • Pizza cutter
  • Oven Mitt
  • A toaster and/or toaster oven
  • Kitchen towels / linens
  • Cloth napkins
  • Plates, Bowls, Glasses, Mugs (for drinking tea / coffee)
  • Large bowls are great for mixing salads 
  • Saran wrap, parchment paper, foil
  • Soap, scrub brushes, bottle brushes, drying rack and dish towels
  • Ice cube tray if your refrigerator does not have an instant ice machine 
  • Dust pan / broom to tidy up spills during meal prep
  • Various cozy decorations

A breakfast nook dedicates a portion of your kitchen to your guest. Having a continental breakfast with fruit and grain choices with coffee feels like you have gone the extra mile.

Breakfast Nook

Offer a few continental breakfast choices – it will go a long way with your rating and could bump you to superhost status very quickly!   

  • Tea/coffee along with caffeine free options
  • Breakfast choice – consider offering a few options for those with dietary considerations
    • Bananas are a great option!
    • Oatmeal
    • Cereal bars
    • Bread options for toast 
    • Jams, butter, honey

If you are planning on having a communal area be a part of your airbnb consider adding these nice touches.  Our absolute favorite airbnb had a warm and lovely living room and patio and we spent all of our time in this space and still talk about our time there almost 4 years later.

Cozy armchairs are especially inviting…

Living space: Cozy Elements

  • Multiple varied lighting options – never underestimate the value of nice lighting!
  • Couch blankets and pillows 
  • Smart tv (THIS) with apps and subscriptions logged in- netflix, hulu, amazon prime video
  • Instruments – having a guitar or piano is a really nice addition 
  • Cozy armchair and extra seating such as ottomans, etc. 
  • Electric candles – (THIS) you can program these to come on at a certain time and these create a really nice ambiance
  • Binoculars – We used these at a stay that had great birds in the yard
  • Baby gate
  • Various cozy decorations

Setting aside a space for other amenities can really set your airbnb apart, especially if your home is located in a destination city where outdoor gear would truly add to a guest’s stay. Consider the following options where appropriate for your location and what the guests might enjoy using. Put items like these in a mudroom or dedicated space and mention their location in the greeting station manual.

Setup a dedicated area for exercise equipment in a low traffic area or even an unused closet! Guest love to keep up with their routines when on a trip away from their home gym.


  • Umbrellas
  • Bicycles – can be picked up for cheap at the thrift store and can really be a nice perk to have several on hand!
  • Snow shoes
  • Hiking poles
  • Goggle and fins – if you have a pool or are near the beach
  • Beach Towels
  • Vacuum 
  • Wet Vac – super helpful to have for guests to vacuum out their rental car so they do not get a fee for returning the car with sand 
  • Mosquito spray 
  • Sunscreen
  • Mud matt (locate this near the door)
  • Headlamps / Flashlights
  • Bluetooth speaker (THIS one is a nightlight too!) 
  • Game closet or bin with board games
  • Local books and guides / magazines with info about the area and recreation options
  • Printer/fax workstation (wifi) – THIS amenity would be so helpful to those staying on business / digital nomads
  • Exercise area with basic weights, foam rollers, etc. 
  • Laundry room – Free and Clear detergents (THIS) help all guests to feel at home when avoiding allergens
  • Outdoor space items such as barbecue, table and chairs, lounge chairs, yard toys, pool toys, etc. 
  • Leash, doggie poop bags (if your space allows animals) 

When setting up an airbnb you can be as minimalist or as prepared as possible, but the most important consideration is the guest experience.  Whether on vacation or business, guests choose an airbnb because they want to feel at home. And making them feel as such can be a breeze if given thought and care!  In all of our travels our favorite experiences were the ones where our needs had been thought of ahead of time and the space felt warm and lovely.  

When staying in airbnbs what has made your stay a 5 star experience? Drop it in the comments below! 

Thinking of signing up to be an airbnb host? Friends of Improvised Journeys may use our referral LINK!

Affiliate links may be present within these posts and if clicked, this blog may receive a commission based on your purchases at no additional cost to you.

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