Renting out your home has become big business—and a highly competitive one. Airbnb claimed more than a million listings worldwide in 2014; the HomeAway/VRBO folks had about the same. Tons of travelers are using this option over hotels; Airbnb says it’s hosted 40 million stays.
That’s a lot of eyes on your listing, and a lot of potential income up for grabs. Sure, a lot is in the photos: People looking for a Danish modern have a very specific space in mind, and they’re not going to rent a hippie bungalow. And location is huge, of course.
But a lot rests in those star ratings. And in this foodie-centric world, you’ll get demerits for having a wonky, dented skillet when your visiting Parisian wants to make slow-scrambled eggs for breakfast. We’ve been noticing negative comments about poorly stocked kitchens, whereas a well-stocked one will help you stand out from the pack: Airbnb even did a special profile on places with “Gourmet Kitchens.”
So hit the kitchen basics, and hit ‘em well. An informal survey of rental sites and home cooks revealed the following common requests. (We assume you’re stocking dish soap, sponges, paper towels, and the like.)
An exhausted traveler will probably want to boil up some pasta or fry up an egg at some point during his stay; don’t make him sweat for it.
A Good Knife
If you stash a dull 10-year-old knife in your kitchen, chances are, you’re gonna hear about it. Home cooks use knives for nearly everything. And nowadays you don’t need to break the bank to get a good one. (An 8-inch blade is your best bet.) The SweetHome tested a ton of knives, and loved the $25 Wusthof Pro and $51 Tojiro Gyutou.
Salt, Olive Oil, Sugar
You can’t have a kitchen without salt. Pepper would be smart to stock, but salt is crucial. (Hello, unsalted pasta; blech!) Same goes with olive oil. So many great dishes depend on it. And coffee and tea lovers will be dismayed to find they’re in a sugar-free home.
Nonstick or cast-iron skillet
A good nonstick skillet—they’re widely available—at least 12 inches in width is crucial. Again, think about eggs, pancakes, and easy foods. Make sure it’s not dented and that it sits evenly on the burner.
Pasta, soups, beans, reheating a bottle of milk in a bath of warm water—a big pot is crucial. Speaking of which…
Can and bottle opener
Woe to the host that doesn’t have a can and beer opener. Again, consider how long and daunting air travel can be; if you’re in a remote location, you want your guest to be able to open that can of chicken soup. Easily.
These are so critical that many travelers actually travel with them.
Gotta be able to flip those pancakes in the morning.
Flat-edged wooden spoon
Again, consider the eggs! Having both a round and flat-edged wooden spoon is ideal, but having one or the other for any liquid stovetop preparation is very necessary.
Unless you want to come home to some new scratch marks in that rolling wooden IKEA table, have a good cutting board—plastic is fine, as long as it’s heavy-duty—and make sure it’s easy for guests to find.
Don’t cross the caffeine junkie. A drip machine is fine, as is some sort of pour-over contraption with paper filters. A French press will impress coffee aficionados, but are tricky to keep clean. Major bonus points if you stash a bit of coffee (maybe a local one, if you’re really going for the brass ring) for the exhausted guest.
Clean plates, bowls, and mugs
It sounds so obvious—until you finish the eggs, are ready to plate them, and see cobwebs over the one tea saucer that’s supposed to stand in for a plate. Don’t make people eat right out of the pan.
Scissors for opening bacon packages, a tea kettle to keep tea and coffee-making classy, tongs for the grill or for flipping meat and fish stovetop, a whisk for sauces, and butter, because it’s delicious and better than EVOO for most morning cookery.