Am I a nit-picky guest?
Yes, I probably am. After all, I have rented countless vacation homes over the past twenty years, in the UK, Europe, Canada, the US and the Caribbean.
Each comes with its own quirks, and I am very tolerant of most. I’ve owned many rental homes too and learned a lot over the years from the hundreds of guests we have hosted. However, there’s times when I’m mystified that an owner doesn’t think of what it’s like to travel a long distance by air, with no opportunity to bring along the comforts of home.
When guests come in by car, it is often loaded with cool boxes full of food and the sorts or herbs and spices they would use to cook up a storm at home. They might bring along their favourite utensils – a chef knife or a gadget they couldn’t be without.
I have taken along a slow cooker, Nutriblend smoothie maker, and pineapple corer just in case, often to find that the rental kitchen is fully-loaded with all the small appliances and gadgets I would need.
Try packing all those in the checked-in luggage you are trying to keep to a minimum because the airlines are charging for each item. I can usually get away with my absolute essentials –curry pastes, herb mixes, some spices I know I will not be able to get locally, my chef’s knife set, and an electric kettle (see my last post on that one!), but there’s not much room for more, so just hope that the owner has given some thought to these limitations.
And mostly they do.
We have been overwhelmed by wonderful kitchens on many trips and found everything we would possibly need (except perhaps a kettle).
So, when occasionally I happen across a minimalist home that requires the best of my creative skills to muddle through a couple of weeks of self catering, I’m disappointed. And when the lack of guest care spreads to other areas of the house, that disappointment verges on full-blown irritation.
So, here are twelve pleas from a vacation rental guest, for any owner who doesn’t want their guests feeling they are on a survival exercise.
- Provide some serving dishes so that my wonderfully prepared potato salad does not have to be served in the pan the potatoes were cooked in.
- Remember that self-catering means your guests are cooking for themselves. A little help is welcome. A blender, food mixer….or even a whisk…would be lovely to have. Of course, I can beat eggs with a fork. But try transforming spinach, berries and a banana to smoothie consistency with a fork. Nope. That is not going to happen.
- Think about what you could put in the drawers and cupboards in place of the myriad plastic shopping bags that previous guests have so thoughtfully left behind. Perhaps some small appliances beyond the toaster and coffee maker?
- Give some thought to some of the staple items that may not be in your guests’ luggage and they might need on their first night. Some cooking oil perhaps? Maybe a little sugar or coffee?
- Supply a good selection of herbs and spices. And salt and pepper in pots – not catering size containers that are impossible to shake without delivering copious amounts each time.
- Replace items that get broken so there’s more than a single side plate, and your guests don’t have to struggle with the egg lifter that has half a handle.
- Replenish the dish soap so that at least the first night dishes can be washed before shopping the next day. The same goes for dishwasher tabs and the half-roll of kitchen paper. Maybe I expect too much but it would be nice to have a ‘get-you-in’ supply of these things. And while I am on the topic of dishwashing, think about replacing the well-used pan scrubber before your next guests arrive.
- Clean the windows. Particularly when the view from the window is spectacular, it would be great to see it clearly.
- Buy sheets that actually fit the beds and not the skimpy variety that are so small they pull off the mattress in the middle of the night. And while you are at it, ditch the sheets that have holes and tears – this does not look good. And another thing….spend a little more on comfortable mattress covers. The cheap varieties crumple underneath the bottom sheet. In fact, have you ever slept in these beds?!
- Make sure the outlets work in the bathrooms. It only takes a minute to check out if the hairdryer you have supplied will actually work in the bathroom. If this is a problem, at least supply a mirror near to an outlet in a bedroom so your guests don’t need to be double jointed to stretch to see in the mirror.
- Don’t skimp on the thickness and size of bath towels. This is why we gave up going to hotels. We want to wrap in a nice fluffy (big) towel after coming out of the shower, and congratulate ourselves on choosing a vacation rental instead.
- Think about the lighting in your living space. Ceiling lighting is often stark and overly bright so why not make the place more ambient by adding more floor and table lamps. Good lighting by a dining table is helpful if you want to see your food without feeling like you are in an institutional environment.
Would all these things ruin your guests’ vacation? Probably not if the sun is shining, the sea is calm and the weather holds out. But, wouldn’t it be great if it was as wonderful inside as it was outside?
Most guests may not have the high standard and expectations that I have. I am demanding – I know it. But I am also tolerant of the few things that get missed or forgotten. I’m as guilty as the next owner of forgetting to fill up the pepper pot (at least I have one), or not noticing a light bulb has gone out (we have spares), so understand when a little thing or two is not quite up to par. It’s when the very minor things transform into issues that impact my precious vacation time, that I feel I need to speak up.
Is there anything here that resonates with you? My learning is actually from something not listed here ( or else I would have gone to 13). It’s important to have a hair dryer in each bathroom…..otherwise your guests have to do some sharing.