Airbnb guests vary wildly when it comes to their kitchen use. For some guests, a meticulously crafted kitchen just serves as a convenient place to toss leftovers after a luxurious string of meals out. For other guests, the ability to cook their own meals was the very reason they booked an Airbnb instead of a hotel.
The variability of Airbnb kitchens themselves is equally extreme. There’s the vertical college kitchen comprised of the mini fridge, microwave, and coffee machine trio teetering in a nondescript corner. And then there are homes decked out with granite counters, restaurant-grade ranges, and copper-plated pans. Some kitchens are impressive minimalist improvisations that require equally creative cooking methods on the part of the guests. Others are sprawling spaces swimming with a hodgepodge of cooking utensils leftover from the host’s own kitchen.
Our favorite Airbnb kitchens, whether big or small, are those that have been intentionally outfitted. Here’s why. The absence of kitchen essentials tends to get noticed in the moment when the guest needs that item the most: the pasta has finished cooking, but there’s no strainer; wine has been offered, but there’s no corkscrew; the beans are supposed to be added when the sauce looks like that, but there’s not a can opener in sight.
The absence of kitchen essentials tends to get noticed in the moment when the guest needs that item the most.
That’s where this kitchen checklist comes in! We’ve cooked in dozens of Airbnb kitchens, and compiled this list to help any host rest assured that their guests will find exactly what they need in the moment they need it. As with any of our checklists, don’t forget to download your own copy, and if any of the products we feature below catch your eye, support bnbNomad by using our affiliate links below. Enjoy!
Coffee and Tea Makings
More often than not, the first time your guests will actually interact with your kitchen is the first morning they wake up in your Airbnb. And most of these folks will be on the hunt for coffee or tea. We’ve seen standard kettles, Keurig and Nespresso machines, electric kettles with a french press, coffee bean grinders (this one’s so quiet!) and every variation of Mr. Coffee machines they make. If you’re the host who already goes that extra mile and includes coffee and tea for your guests, consider going one step further and set out sugar, cream, and honey too. Even guests who like their morning jolt straight up will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Sharp Knives and Cutting Board
This is the most consistently overlooked essential in Airbnb kitchens: sharp knives. Before we left for our nomadic adventures, a wise colleague recommended traveling with our own chef’s knife. After brushing off her advice, we’re now on the verge of doing exactly that. Put your guests at ease and, at the bare minimum, stock a paring knife, a chef’s knife, and a large serrated knife along with a sizable cutting board or two. Choose a set that comes in plastic sheaths or, if you already have great knives, pick up a universal knife block. Just keep them from bouncing around in the drawer and getting dangerously dull. Don’t forget to include sharpening your knives in your maintenance routine.
Oven, Stove, Mitts, and Trivet MatsDepending on the size of your Airbnb kitchen, your oven/stove situation might be the classic appliance or a hot plate and toaster oven combination. Whatever you’ve got, tuck oven mitts, pot holders or trivet mats, and a fire extinguisher nearby. We’ve even seen hosts include the guides to their kitchen appliances in their house manual. Believe it or not, this millennial started drinking coffee after the dawn of the Keurig and had to learn how to brew a normal pot of coffee on the road.
Skillets for the Stove
Here’s our favorite stovetop skillet combination: a small non-stick egg pan, a medium saute pan, and a large deep-sided pan that can also go in the oven. This allows guests either to choose the right skillet for the job, or–gasp–cook more than one thing at a time.
Pots for the StoveA small pot and a large pot should cover your bases. Something small like a saucepan and something big enough for a batch of chili or box of pasta. Don’t forget matching lids for each. We absolutely adored this set by Rachael Ray. Hands-down the most nonstick pots and pans we’ve ever cooked with.
This is another commonly overlooked item. If you give a guest a pot, and they make some pasta, they’re going to need a strainer. It also doubles as a way to rinse off fruits, veggies, canned beans etc. We like strainers that stand up on their own since draining a big batch of something in piping hot water usually takes two hands.
Mixing BowlsTry making a big batch of guacamole in a coffee mug or tossing a salad in a lasagna pan, and you’ll know why we’re always relieved to find a few mixing bowls in any Airbnb kitchen. A nested set like these colorful bowls are great.
Here are the absolute essentials: a spatula, a big spoon, a whisk, a ladle, a set of tongs, all of which should be able to get nice and hot. Then there are the openers: corkscrew, bottle opener, can opener, and a grippy pad for stubborn jars.
Cups and Dishes
You know the role call here: plates, bowls, cups, and mugs. Two different plate sizes are wonderful to find. Our favorite dish we’ve seen in multiple Airbnbs are bowls that are wide and shallow. They hold soup or cereal, but can easily double as a plate. If you’re wondering how many of each dish to stock, ask yourself this: how many people do you advertise your space to sleep? At the bare minimum, everyone should be able to dinner at the same time.
An even easier group. Your kitchen should have forks, knives, and spoons. Consider adding a serrated set of knives to your butter knives. The silverware drawer is perhaps the biggest culprit when it comes to crumb accumulation. And Airbnb silverware is, after all, the only item in your kitchen that goes directly in each guest’s mouth. Create peace of mind for your visitors by opening up the silverware drawer between each stay and tidying up as needed.
Measuring Cups and Spoons
A full set of measuring cups and measuring spoons is a must for those of us who are awful at ball-parking what a tablespoon of olive oil actually looks like. This allows precision when your guests are tackling a new risotto recipe or anything in the baking world. A liquid measuring cup–think Pyrex style— is always appreciated too.
Fridge and Freezer
Regardless of how much they plan to cook, every guest loves to open up the fridge door to find it squeaky clean (and maybe stocked with a few goodies!) Crumb-lined drawers or a bounty of expired condiments raise questions about the overall cleanliness of your Airbnb. Also, on the off chance you don’t have a freezer, make sure that’s clear in your listing. You don’t want guests to figure that out as their pint of ice cream thaws on the counter.
Sink, Drying Rack, Sponge, and Plenty of Dish Soap
Make it as easy as possible on your guests to do the dishes. A great drying rack and mat, a fresh sponge (we love these individually wrapped ones), and plenty of dish soap are all that’s necessary. Don’t forget to add a bottle of hand soap next to the dish soap as well. We’re constantly washing our hands in the kitchen sink while cooking.
Trash Can & Recycling
Well marked trash can and recycling receptacles are a must. Leave plenty of extra bags in the kitchen so that guests can take the trash as needed. And don’t forget to tell your guests where the trash and recycling are located at your house! It’s second nature to you, but super awkward for guests to try and figure out: is it in the garage? Around the side of the house? In the alley? No one likes to prolong the chore of taking out the trash.
Wine Glasses and Tumblers
Not that we’ll refuse to drink wine out of a coffee mug, but finding designated glasses wonderful. Consider adding a few glass tumblers of various sizes, and maybe a pair of champagne flutes, especially if your Airbnb is a romantic getaway designed for couples. Just be sure that these items aren’t sentimental or expensive (and maybe don’t even have stems!) to help ease the inevitable guest slip up.
Hand Towels & Paper Towels
Leave a hand towel or two next to the sink with backups tucked somewhere nearby. This keeps guests with wet hands from bumbling through your drawers. Always offer an extra roll of paper towels, and leave whatever cleaning spray you prefer somewhere nearby too. This makes it easy for guests to wipe down surfaces and appliances after each use. We’ve become huge fans of the Mrs. Meyer’s line of cleaning supplies during our travels. They sanitize without the lingering chemical smells.
Salt and Pepper
As Julia Childs would say, we all need to be able to correct the seasoning. If you only include two spices in your Airbnb, stock salt and pepper. Guests don’t travel with salt and pepper, nor do they remember to pick it up when they’re grocery shopping, but they’ll use it constantly when they cook. We love pairs like these with grinders built into the lid.
Olive Oil and Vinegar
Just like salt and pepper, oil and vinegar are cooking building blocks. Whether we’re dressing a salad or just cooking an egg, we’re always grateful to the hosts who have stocked these items. Be sure to put them in clear containers. We tend to hesitate to use anything in an Airbnb kitchen that’s in an opaque holder.
A toaster is such a small item to include, but it’s so appreciated by so many. Bagels and toast are part of many folks morning routine (as are Eggos and Poptarts, if your younger visitors are anything like we were growing up.) Look for a toaster with a crumb tray to make clean up easy.
We’ve stayed at plenty of places without them, but a microwave is such a nice thing to have on hand when it’s time to revitalize leftovers. If you’re catering to folks who will eat out more than they’ll eat in, a microwave, however tiny, is a good item to add to your Airbnb’s kitchen.
Best Kept Secrets
A Welcome Snack
Oh, the Airbnb snacks we’ve seen! A welcome goodie, no matter how small, is the quickest way to make a guest feel like a guest. From the moment we walk in and start munching, we’re impressed with our host’s generosity (and often less cranky if we’ve been driving and didn’t realize how hungry we actually were.) The welcome snack has a way of getting the stay off on the right foot.
Space for Groceries
This is especially appreciated by week long (or month long!) guests. Hosts have usually prepared space for a guest’s clothes, shoes, and toiletries, but often space to unpack groceries gets overlooked. Many kitchens have been so full that we end up putting most of our groceries in the fridge. Clear a shelf a cabinet, or even set out a few baskets or a fruit stand to invite your guests to unpack.
Clear Counter Space
Counter space can be a rather coveted commodity in Airbnb kitchens. We’ve been super impressed with hosts with minimal cabinet space who have transformed the walls into storage space in order to keep the counters clear and ready to use. Check out these vertical solutions from IKEA.
Food Storage SuppliesOnce the cooking is done and before clean up begins, leftover food needs to be stored. This is a noticeable gap in most Airbnb kitchens. Add things like plastic wrap, aluminum foil, a few baggies, and tupperware with the all-important matching lids. Chip clips feel like a godsend after months of bobby pin/hair tie rigs. And when you stock that corkscrew, add a wine stopper to the mix too.
Garbage DisposalIt’s incredible the amount of food that still manages to make its way into the sink even when careful post-dinner scraping has occurred. If a garbage disposal is out of the question, add a drain strainer above the drain to keep the food out. It helps us relax as guests because we know we’re not going to clog up your pipes!
A few good spices can make such a difference, and a starter kit might be more reasonable than you think. If you plan to just stock a few spices, we’d vote for chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, curry powder, thyme, oregano, ginger, and cinnamon. We also adore discovering local spices ready to use in Airbnb kitchens.
We’ve stayed at some lovely places that have included essentials for baking: flour, sugar, baking powder, rolling pin, electric beater, loaf pan or cake pan, maybe even parchment paper. If you’re a baker, you’ll know why some guests appreciate these thoughtful touches so much, and if you’re not, consider at least leaving some Pam in the kitchen to help guests out with a basic package of brownie mix or tube of cookie dough.
No one really wants to do dishes, but no one wants to dishes even more when they’re on vacation. A dishwasher isn’t just a fabulous time saver for your guests; it also cuts the systemic Airbnb kitchen cleanliness problem in half. Remove the variability with which the dishes are washed, and suddenly almost every dish a guest grabs is good to go. Tuck the detergent in an obvious spot nearby. (And if you’re thinking, there’s just no room in this tiny kitchen for that! check out this slim dishwasher we discovered in our very first Airbnb.)
Here is the final collection of items that can make your kitchen the best Airbnb kitchen ever. We’ve had our fair share of anxious moments in the absence of these items, from the please oh please don’t make me peel this entire butternut squash with that paring knife to the oh crap, how many lemon seeds did I add along with the juice? In no particular order, here we go: peeler, kitchen shears, pizza cutter, grater, whisk, juicer, meat thermometer, baster, fine mesh strainer, ice cream scoop, frying skimmer , and a cradle for a messy spoon on the stove top.
Thanks so much for checking out our kitchen checklist. If you’re ready for the run down on another room of your Airbnb, check out our bedroom and bathroom checklists. And don’t forget to download your own copy of the kitchen essentials checklist. We’d love to hear your thoughts! Did we miss anything? If you’re a host, what makes your kitchen special? If you’re a guest, what do you love to find while cooking in an Airbnb? Until next time, happy hosting!