The hostess with the mostest: Confessions of an airbnb host

“I think it would be weird to have strangers in my house,” one of my friends wrote on Facebook after I announced that our first airbnb guests had successfully completed their stay.

Honestly, I’d had the same qualms. I’m an introvert who considers my home my sanctuary, a sacred space where I won’t be forced to interact, to scour my brain for small talk or worry about whether the fact that I’m wearing footie pajamas at 6 p.m. will be considered weird.

But I’m also a first-time homeowner on a relatively tight budget who just purchased a home that’s nearly a century old. There will be unforeseen expenses. My boyfriend and I both work full-time and freelance part-time. Plus, I’ve got a less-than-modest trickle of income from my two books available on Amazon. But it’s not enough to repair the things that will no doubt break, or to add the delightful additions like a second bathroom in the basement and solar panels on the roof.

When we initially discussed how we would manage to sustain a house, airbnb seemed like an obvious answer. We’ve got a second bedroom, which is a guest room for friends and family, and there was no point allowing it to sit empty the 340 days each year that our friends and family were not in Seattle. It’s a nice room—cozy and quaint, with a balcony overlooking the backyard and the Chinese restaurant behind our house. We made the room even cozier with an excellent mattress, Etsy artwork, television, video game system, books, board games, and access to our extensive DVD and book libraries.

We put together a notebook with important details like where to get the best dessert and where to catch the bus downtown and how to get to the vegan cafe a half mile or so down the street. We wrote no fewer than a half-dozen reminders that our cats are indoor only, and the only truly sacred house rule—besides not smoking in the house—was to keep the cats inside at all costs. We screen our guests based on their likelihood to respect this rule. We even bought toiletries at the Dollar Tree and assembled them in a red plastic caddy for any guests who might have forgotten something important like a toothbrush or deodorant. I picked flowers from the garden and placed them in my favorite purple vase on the nightstand.

It was kind of fun, actually. I love playing host, and have far too few opportunities. I always thought it would be a delightful challenge to run a b&b.

I was a little astonished at how quickly the room booked up once the listing went live. We had multiple requests within 24 hours, and booked pretty solidly for the first three months. Of course, $45 is a pretty reasonable price for a night in Seattle, but still, we didn’t have any reviews and I was worried that would put people off. It probably did, but not nearly enough to prevent us from booking up so solidly that we realized we probably should have left some dates open for some peace and quiet, or renovation mayhem.

We waited, cautiously, as our first guests came and went. Then our second. Third. Fourth. It’s been just two weeks and we’ve been booked solidly during that time. We realized pretty early on we’d need to invest in extra bedding since there often wasn’t time for me to do the laundry between guests.

 

Really though, it hasn’t been all that different from my normal day-to-day routine. I’m a little more quiet, I close the bedroom door when changing clothes, and the house is just FullSizeRender (2)that little bit cleaner, which is actually kind of nice. And our guests have astonished me with their politeness. They gush over the cats and make their bed before “checking out” and ask our opinions about which DVDs they should borrow from our collection (so far Pulp Fiction and The Birdcage have been pretty popular). They visit the Chinese restaurant behind our house and our latest guests remind me so much of my college self that I want to tell them not to give up on being bookish, regardless of how terrifying the job market might seem. And thanks to the fact that airbnb handles all the financial transactions, we don’t have to engage in any awkward conversations about money.

I’m sure there will be a downside at some point—a guest will try to host a Trump rally at our house or develop a horrific allergy to one of the cats or something even worse that I don’t want to think about, because that’s how life works. It’s not all starry-eyed English majors gushing about how they want a house just like yours. I do think, however, that by expecting the best from our guests and being the best possible hosts, we increase our chances of getting the guests we’re excited to meet and share our home with.

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Comments

  1. You are braver than I…However, I have children, and it’s the ‘keeping it guest ready’ part that would prevent me from ever being an airbnd host, but who knows what the distant future holds…now, if I could only live in such a cool place like Seattle!

  2. I found your post via a WordPress search on “Airbnb host” because my husband and I are considering doing the same. This gave me the grandest of smiles. Shreveport, Louisiana, is no Seattle, so I don’t expect the onslaught of bookings, but I hope our first experiences are as lovely as yours! 🙂

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