Recently, I decided to treat myself to a few nights at the Rockridge Casita – a charming short-term rental just five minutes away from my own home. I was craving a little solitude, and I also needed to make major progress on my next book (which is suddenly due very soon – eek!).
Diana Pasquali, has been an Airbnb Superhost for 12 years, and her charming Casita was named Sunset Magazine’s #1 Home Tour of 2019. Diana truly is a super host and puts so much care and attention into making visitors from near and far feel welcome. Guests are greeted with fresh flowers from her favorite florist, a handwritten welcome note, chocolates from a local chocolate maker, and a manual with local guidebooks and maps. The casita is also stocked with every amenity you can imagine – coffee and tea, fresh fruit and snacks, a mini fridge with wine and sparkling water, extra blankets, an umbrella, a space heater, hooks for robes or hats, a first aid kit, a lint roller, charging cords, backup toiletries, a hair dryer, and even a sweet little collection of games and a coloring set. Every single detail has been considered!
I was so blown away that I reached out to see if Diana would be willing to share her top hosting tips. Luckily for all of us, she was happy to oblige. Read on to learn how to up your game, whether you plan to rent out your home or just want to dazzle your BFF or mother-in-law on her next visit.
Favorite small ways to make a guest feel welcome?
I love welcoming guests with small, personal gestures like a handwritten note. In each note I address the guest by their first name and wish them well in their specific purpose of their trip (enjoy their family visit, have a productive work trip or a restful solo retreat). And, if I’m not able to write a note because I’m traveling, then I send a quick text that says something like, “You’ve just arrived! Hope you have a lovely visit with your sister – let me know if you need anything.” I also love adding a few local treats to make their stay a little more special: a local chocolate and coffee beans from our neighborhood roastery. Sharing our favorite local products helps our guests feel connected to the place they’re visiting.
Top tips for being a great host?
First, clear the clutter. Guests need space to unpack their things without pushing your things aside. That means providing a luggage rack or empty dresser or closet. If you’re hosting in your own home, put all personal items away in a box in a closet that your guests won’t be using.
Second, cleanliness is super important. One stray hair will really ruin a well-made bed. It’s worth going the extra mile: first clean, then sanitize. Get out that lint roller as a final check to make sure there are no stray hairs or fuzzes on the linens.
Third, think about creature comforts: fluffy towels, a terry-cloth robe, a good mattress, high quality pillows and linens, and – this is my pet peeve- make sure guests can turn out a light from the bed!
Ok, one more: think through the check-in process. How will guests get the key or code to get in? If your guest is arriving late at night, are there motion-sensored lights outside? When they walk in, what will they first see? I recommend that hosts create a welcome station, which can be a shelf or table, with all the info they need when they first step in the front door.
What info should you make sure to leave for your guest?
Hosts should provide guidance to two things: first, the home. How to use the wifi, heat, laundry, any major appliances (these should all be listed in a visible spot like a binder, or sent digitally in a well-organized list). Second, the neighborhood. As a host, I see myself as a local ambassador – I want to share my favorite spots with our guests. Guests don’t want a list of ten places to get coffee, since they can look on Yelp for that. Instead, they want to know my one or two very favorite coffee spots nearby. They want a curated, personalized list of restaurants and shops and insider tips, like the local farmer’s market hours or where to go for the best taco (Cholita Linda!) or our favorite ice cream shop (Curbside Creamery)!
Top 5 can’t live without hosting essentials?
Clean, crisp bed linens.
Welcome book with all the home and neighborhood details.
Hosting Splurges vs. Saves?
I would recommend splurging on a great mattress, sleeping pillows, and high-quality curtains or shades for privacy and sun-sensitive sleepers. You can get organic cotton sheets from Target or towels from Ikea, but don’t skimp on the mattress. We designed our guest house with my parents in mind, and they are super picky sleepers: one likes feather pillows, the other foam, so we offer a range of pillow options (stored in the guest closet) for guests to choose from. The essential comfort pieces: mattress, duvet, pillows, are all worth splurging on, and high-quality pieces will last longer, which is better for the environment. Then I think hosts can save on smaller pieces: nightstands, lighting, art and accessories like throw pillows and a side chair. We relied a lot on Ikea and Etsy for these pieces. Etsy is a great place to find hosting accessories like a cute, custom keychain, a wood binder for the house manual, or a throw blanket, and I like supporting individual artists and craftspeople.
Thank you so much, Diana! Who’s ready to book their stay? Click here to stay at the Rockridge Casita (it’s quite popular so book in advance!), and if you’re interested in renting your own property, click here to learn more about Diana’s signature “Elevate Your Airbnb” hosting masterclass.
Photography Credit: Melissa Habegger