Hosting Tips & Tricks

10 Must-Have Items For Setting Up Your First Vacation Rental

10 Must-Have Items For Setting Up Your First Vacation Rental


When you are setting up your first vacation rental it can be an intimidating process. You are unsure of what to include and you don't know what the key must-haves are for a rental. We asked Karen Spencer, an experienced holiday rental coach and owner of The Business of Holiday Rental, to give us her top 10 must-have items for setting up your first vacation rental. Check out her tips below and start your first rental like an expert.   


Whether guests choose to access it or want a week away from the online world, give them a choice. Not having wifi will significantly reduce your bookings. It also allows you to offer extras such as Netflix. And wifi means, when your guests leave, you can remotely control the heating via apps such as Hive or Nest.

A Well-Equipped Kitchen

Guests have chosen self-catering as they want the freedom to prepare their own food. Don’t spoil that for them by offering a sparsely equipped kitchen.  Think how you use your kitchen at home and stock your holiday rental to match this.   And provide at least two more sets of crockery and cutlery than your holiday home’s bed spaces.

A Comfy Sofa

Relaxing on the sofa in front of the fire, with a book and a glass of wine is exactly what guests want to do on holiday.  Make this experience comfortable for your guests and give them a comfy sofa to sit on.  Don’t scrimp on this piece of furniture, go for quality.  It doesn’t have to be brand new. You can pick up some as good as new items from auction sites such as eBay.  It just has to well-made and comfortable. And you must ensure it meets local fire-retardant legislation.

Three Sets of Bedding and Towels

One set to be on the bed, one set in the wash and one set spare. This can be a significant expense when first starting out, but ultimately it will be worth it.  It will cause you less stress on changeover days.  Opt for white bed linen so it’s interchangeable if the sets get muddle up in the wash. Which invariably, they will.

Appropriate Window Dressings

Appropriate for your climate. In UK and colder climates ensure curtains are fully lined and fall to the floor. Windows with curtains ending at cill height looks likes your cutting corners and couldn’t afford enough fabric to hang to the floor!  Visually, from a styling point of view, it looks better. In kitchens and bathrooms, roller blinds work best.  Don’t always opt for plain, a patterned blind can be a great way of adding interest to those rooms.

A White Bathroom Suite

Period!  It’s current, looks clean and is readily available.  And it’s what guests expect.  Ditch the avocado suite (even if you’re inheriting one and it’s immaculate). Don’t have potential guests seeing you online and your property being memorable to them for the wrong reasons – “the one with the brown bath”. Go white suite every single time!

A Detailed Welcome Folder

This will include information on how the appliances work, useful telephone numbers, the rubbish and recycling system, your contact details. Its purpose is to educate and inform your guests. The more detailed it is, the less likely they have to bother you with a query.  Pop it in a plastic folder and leave in a prominent position in your holiday rental.


Lamps help create a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. Harsh overhead lighting has it's place but on an evening guests want more subtle lighting. Ensure each room has either a table lamp or a floor lamp, to give guests flexibility.  An armchair well placed under a floor lamp immediately gives guests a place to read. Ensure there’s a lamp by the side of each bed too.

A Source of Heat

Ideally a log fire or an open fire to unwind in front of.  Also ensure you provide a generous starter stock of logs, kindling, paper, matches, and firelighters so guests can use and enjoy this feature.  Why not provide a fire pit or chimenea too for outdoor use.  Ensure you provide usage and safety instructions too.

A Key Safe

If you don’t live close to your holiday home, having a key safe, for guests to access, means you don’t have to worry about leaving a key under the mat, or relying on your housekeeper to greet your guests.  Email guests the safe code ahead of their arrival and remember to change the code regularly.

Karen Spencer is a business coach for holiday homeowners and owner of The Business of Holiday Rentals. She helps vacation rental owners to maximize their income, to run it as a business and to enjoy the process, too. Check out her free downloads here.