Staying in an Airbnb property can be a great way to truly experience a new city. Unlike a hotel, you often have access to an entire apartment including a kitchen, which can make you feel more like a local than a tourist.

As an Airbnb host, you can open your home or rental property to visitors from all over the world. The experience is not as anonymous as a hotel and in some cases guests and hosts may even share a living space, so there are certain etiquette tips for guests and hosts that make the experience more enjoyable for both parties.

How to be a great Airbnb guest

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Be reasonable with your arrival time

Unlike a hotel, which often only allows check-ins after 2pm, Airbnb owners can be flexible on check-in time. Some will try to accommodate guests who may fly into a location at an unusual hour. Each host will stipulate their rules on this matter in the listing.

If your host is flexible on check-in time, don’t take this to mean you can show up whenever you want. Chances are most hosts will have to come to the property to let you in. Make sure you’re clear with them about when you plan to arrive and keep them up to date with any delays that occur through the messaging section of the Airbnb app. Bear in mind that hosts may be ducking out of work to let you in or have other things they need to attend to. Don’t leave them hanging.

Follow the house rules

On the listing, hosts will outline any house rules they have. These might include requests like removing shoes when inside the property, or no late night parties or music. It only takes a minute to read the rules, so make sure you do it before you arrive. It’s important to realize that you are staying in someone’s house and you need to be respectful of their space. Act like you are a guest in someone’s home, because in essence, you are.

Alert the host to problems

If you encounter any issues with your accommodation, it’s always best to let the hosts know immediately and give them a chance to fix it. Nothing is more annoying for a host than having a guest suffer through a problem that could easily be fixed and then mentioning the problem in the review of the rental. Airbnb properties are often chosen by guests based on good reviews. If you tell a host about a situation and they don’t address it, by all means write a scathing review. But giving hosts the opportunity to right the wrong is always the best policy.

Be thankful

Staying in an Airbnb property can be viewed as a simple transaction, but it’s worth remembering that you’re dealing with an individual, not a hotel chain. While you don’t need to leave a tip or gift, you might consider writing a thank you note or card. Remember, the host will also be reviewing you as a guest — information that will be available to other hosts in the future. Be polite and courteous and bask in the glow of your five-star review.

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How to be a great Airbnb host

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Communication is key

I’ll never forget the time that I booked a room in Paris and didn’t hear anything from the host as I left London on the Eurostar. When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle station, there was still no word. Unsure of what to do I went to a cafe and tried to find WiFi to call her. Eventually she answered, but it was unsettling to arrive in a foreign country unsure of when I could access my accommodation.

As an Airbnb host, it’s imperative to communicate everything you can with your guests about all aspects of their stay. Some may be arriving from another country and may not be sure how to access local transport. They may also not have cellphone reception unless they have an international phone package. Be as helpful as you can before your guests leave their home country, offering information on how to reach the apartment and how to check-in.

Also key: cleanliness

Even though you’re not running a hotel, guests will expect the accommodation to be spotless. Not only should the place be thoroughly cleaned, but it should be free from your personal clutter. Pay attention to the details. Make sure the soap is refilled and don’t leave anything in the refrigerator except perhaps some fresh milk to get them started. You do not need to provide food for them, but leaving behind a fresh loaf of bread is a kind gesture. They may be tired and hungry from a flight. If you host on a regular basis it might be wise to employ a professional cleaner to thoroughly clean between guests.

Offer a welcome checklist

Though it isn’t necessary, it’s a nice gesture to offer a welcome checklist. This needn’t be redone each time you have a new guest: simply make a list, laminate it and leave it on the coffee table. You can include information such as, the WiFi password, any local restaurants you recommend, the full address of the property and your number in case of emergencies. This will also mean that guests do not need to bother you with questions, as most answers will be on this list.

Be warm and welcoming

I would hope this goes without saying, but being a gracious host is just as important as offering a warm and clean space. If your guests discover a problem or have a complaint, try not to argue or be defensive, but listen and attempt to understand the situation. Remember that guests are not only reviewing your space but your hosting abilities too.

Write an honest review

If a guest is challenging or abuses your space, be sure you are honest in the review. Your honesty can help other hosts decide if this is a guest they want in their rental. If the guest is respectful and fun, be sure to include that too as it can help them book other stays along their travels.