5 years, 6 months ago
Staying at a vacation rental has many benefits, amongst which the opportunity for guests to quickly gain local knowledge and tips about the area from their host. In my experience, a host can do more than provide their local insights to make a guest feel welcome. To me, being a good host is all about attention to detail, the little touches that make me feel right at home. A host may not speak the language of the guest but this can be more than compensated by good, old-fashioned hospitality.
A good host is, in my book, one who combines the comforts of home with great hospitality. The latter can be shown in many ways; welcoming guests with a beverage (or even a bowl of fruit) on their arrival. Sitting with them to provide local tips and ideas are excellent ways to quickly make guests feel right at home. I like hosts who are welcoming, easily reachable for assistance, helpful but not intrusive.
One of the most hospitable HouseTrip hosts I’ve met was Stephan in Berlin. Stephan owns several gorgeous lofts in the Moabit district in Berlin and is a very experienced and amicable host. He was there to greet me with a big smile when I arrived at the apartment. I appreciated the friendly welcome but more importantly, the fact that he was there upon my arrival. I’ve sometimes had to wait for the host and though it’s seldom an issue, after a long journey it’s just nice to have your host open the door the moment you arrive.
When I walked into Stephan’s loft, there was a board hanging on the wall with a personal welcome note, and in the kitchen, a bowl of fresh fruit awaited. While I was in the kitchen, I also noticed how well-stocked it was with utensils and all sorts of spices and herbs – some other apartments I’ve stayed at don’t go much further than the customary salt and pepper shakers. This kitchen is absolutely perfect for guests who like to cook their own meals.
Stephan also had a little reading corner where he had all sorts of brochures, city guides and maps neatly arranged on a shelf. We chatted for a bit about my plans in the city – I wasn’t sure what my plans were at that point. He nodded, then guided me to the reading corner where he told me to go through the information at my own leisure and if I needed any suggestions, he was no further than a call away. Helpful, not intrusive and easily-reachable.
So, how do you spot a good host when you’re making your booking? From my experience, two factors are important: the time a host takes to respond to a booking request, and more importantly, the number and quality of the reviews by previous guests. I find that I’m more motivated to write a review if I’ve had a great experience dealing with the host. I also pay special attention to the apartment description provided by the host; I like to see sufficient information about the apartment, its facilities, location and a bit about its surroundings. A host who has made the effort to provide all the relevant information I need, and tops it off with extra information about the neighbourhood and its attractions will easily grab my attention.