In late October, 17,000 data geeks (myself included) descended upon New Orleans for an annual tech conference of outlandish proportions. The city’s three-story, mile-long conference center was a sea of eager learners adorned with blue lanyards moving in slow currents that formed eddies around each conference room door. In anticipation of the sheer number of attendees, I had scrambled onto the Airbnb site four months earlier with uncharacteristically lenient search parameters. I just needed to find something suitable for Jay and I to set up shop for a few days while I attended the conference. We would bookend our road trip with show-stopping Airbnbs in Tennessee and Alabama, but to my mind, the New Orleans Airbnb was just serving a practical purpose.
That night, utterly exhausted with a brain bobbing in the wake of information overload, I walked into our Airbnb and was suddenly revitalized.
The day the conference finally started, Jay dropped me off with the other data enthusiasts and took the winding roads through the city to check in to our Airbnb. When I glanced at my phone between sessions, I saw a text from him: You’re going to love this place. That night, utterly exhausted with a brain bobbing in the wake of information overload, I walked into our Airbnb and was suddenly revitalized.
My energy climbed as I soaked it in: towering ceilings, striking artwork, a fusion of historic and modern amenities that were immaculately clean and yet irresistible cozy, dressed to the nines with fluffy throws, soft rugs, and supple leather furniture. The place was downright sumptuous. With this surge of excitement, I realized this was the epitome of a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too situation: I could attend the conference for the information, but travel to the city to truly experience the place. We had dodged the cookie-cutter rooms of the conference hotel, and instead landed in an early 19th century neighborhood living it up in a New Orleans Airbnb brimming with character.
The Superhost mastermind behind this marvelous Airbnb was Tim, an exemplary communicator with an undeniable knack for interior design. From the moment we booked our stay, we could sense how firmly his hosting style was rooted in hospitality. He offered the earliest check in time we’ve seen to date (2:00pm! How is that even possible?!) He asked what time we’d be arriving and when said that morning, he immediately offered to open the doors up to drop off bags early. Each room had been thoughtfully designed around the guest’s experience: an extra fan in the bedroom, floating shelves for toiletries in the bathroom, each window complete with curtains that we could close for privacy. And finally, his communication through the Airbnb app was so perfectly executed that we’ve dedicated the entire Clever Tricks for Hosts section below to deconstructing exactly what it was that made us feel so valued and welcome.
1800s Home in the Lower Garden District
The building itself was stunning. A dusty mauve trimmed in bright white, accented with a deep teal door, our New Orleans Airbnb encapsulated the distinctive architecture that had captured our attention the moment we entered the city. Double decker balconies lined the street, floating on toothpick legs amid a sea of waxy, coastal leaves. Lining our upper balcony, iron curved into delicate patterns, and beneath, the floorboards’ pale blue underbelly peeked out. The front of the house was more window than wall. Five stately frames dwarfed the door itself, each extending to meet the planks of its respective porch. The exterior was unlike anywhere else we’ve stayed, and the interior followed suit with equal gusto.
tall and airy
Inside, everything reached upwards in a full body stretch: the ceilings, the windows, the curtains, the fireplace, the doorways, the elegant staircase to the second story, which had to double back on itself to compensate for the first floor’s airy height. Even the bannister drew the eye up, its deep wood rounded into softness by the countless repetitions of people here before us.
Exploring this Airbnb was a delightful treasure hunt. Tucked beneath the staircase we stumbled upon a miniature bathroom. Through the living room we found a kitchen gleaming behind glass french doors. Upstairs we discovered a library, a second fireplace, a modern bathroom, and not one but two bedrooms. The second bedroom sat an additional half story higher and was accessible by two separate staircases, which required several comical roundabouts on my part to fully understand how these rooms actually connected. And those windows we had admired from the street transformed into frames for the neighborhood itself. With the panes lifted, we could duck beneath and emerge in the treetops of New Orleans.
personal touches we loved
This New Orleans Airbnb blended a series of eclectic items into a cohesive interior that was unforgettable. Here are the personal touches we loved most.
Illuminating the entry hall, living room, and library were unique light fixtures. Each arm of these multi-pronged pieces extended outwards culminating in an individual light bulb. In the living room, the fixture mirrored organic growth while in the library, the fixture was a geometric burst. What’s more, these lights were all connected to dimmer switches. The maximum settings would always fill the given room, but the flexibility empowered us to continuously match the light to our mood.
Eclectic ArtLeaning into the city’s European flair, a couple from Picasso’s blue period welcomed us each time we entered the home. This precedent continued throughout the house, each room boasting its own piece of captivating art. Propped up in the fireplace, a heart-shaped pair of crows leaned against the whitewashed brick. Upstairs, a neon blue porcupine balanced on streaks of paint. The stimulating collection was rounded out by book about Matisse’s cut-outs on the coffee table.
LibraryThe curated collection of books in the library was just as inspiring. There was something for everyone: David Sedaris’ Naked for those looking for a laugh, Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow and Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink for a bit of social science research, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls for anyone in the mood for a novel. The shelf’s collection was held up on either side with a pair of skull bookends to boot.
Deconstructed Night StandIn the absence of space for a traditional nightstand in the main bedroom, Tim got creative and mounted a deconstructed night stand on the wall. A gold lamp extended out from a mounted base and a series of wire geometric floating shelves provided sturdy, accessible surfaces. With their minimalist decorations, these inventive shelves added visual depth and height to the room while also offering guests a convenient spot for nighttime necessities like glasses, earplugs, or cell phones.
Every room in this Airbnb had a rug, from hallway runners to plush centerpieces. Our favorite, though, was the tiger rug in the main bedroom. With his orange body outstretched and his toothy, teal eyed smile, this tiger was one of the most memorable items in the home. His bold presence added such an unexpected and delightful element to our trip.
Clever Tricks for Hosts
Tim’s communication through the Airbnb app was flawless: a blend of information and hospitality, without an ounce of intrusion. We were so impressed with his communication style, we’ve deconstructed the key elements below to explain why it worked so well. If you’re an Airbnb host, here are some clever communication templates to try out inspired by Tim’s stellar example.
Before the Stay
“I’ll be in touch a few days before check in!”
Guests are usually looking to you to take the communication lead. After all, every Airbnb host they’ve ever stayed with has had a different routine. Once a reservation has been confirmed, use the Airbnb app to let your guests know what happens next. Just remember that you’re making a promise here, so be sure to follow through.
“Hope you are excited about your trip to New Orleans!”
The day or two before their stay, touch base with your guests. This puts folks at ease, especially when they’ve made their reservation months in advance. They’ll be glad to know you remember they’re coming, and your enthusiasm will prime them for a great stay.
“The keypad/keys will be here and the code is ######.”
Distill your check in instructions down to the bare bones. Ideally, all the important information should fit in a single sentence. If it doesn’t, perhaps it’s not the instructions but rather the process that needs simplifying. If you’re looking for more self check-in advice, check out this post.
How brilliant is this? A single text with a jumbled code prefaced by “Here’s the wifi password to copy and paste.” Talk about knowing your audience. The moment your guests walk through the door, you’ve ensured they’ll have the information they want most at their fingertips.
“Just a couple of house notes:”
Dense messages overflowing with detailed instructions rarely get fully read or internalized. Follow Tim’s example and select a few key items you want to bring to your guest’s attention. We loved how Tim leveraged white space between each item to make the message easy to scan and understand.
“Please don’t use the library window to go on the balcony. Feel free to use the window furthest to the right in the bedroom.”
This is a masterful strategy for redirecting unwanted behavior. This “please don’t… feel free to…” formula is the perfect way to gently guide your guests towards the behavior you’d love to see. As guests, we’re eager to please. We just need to also know what we should do along with what we shouldn’t.
During the Stay
“The place is all yours.”
If your Airbnb is cleaned up and guest-ready before the set check in time, send a quick message. Guests LOVE this, especially if just they’re hanging out with their bags somewhere in town. This generous gesture sets a positive tone for the stay before it has even begun.
“Just checking in to make sure everything is all good. Let me know if y’all need anything. Thanks!”
A little check in text like this is the perfect way to show your guests that you truly care. When most guests receive a message like this, they’ll tell you everything’s going swimmingly. But on the off chance something is less than ideal, this message becomes a safeguard, allowing you to fix the problem during the stay as opposed to being blindsided by a negative review.
“Hey Erin! How are you?”
The morning of check out, Tim opened his message like he would address a friend. By customizing your messages with your guest’s name and genuinely asking how they are, you’ll catch your guest’s full attention and increase the likelihood they’ll give your message the focus it deserves.
“I hope you enjoy the last day of your conference!”
When you recall any small personal details guests have shared with you, like why they’re in town or where they’re going next, they feel particularly valued. It’s that kind of personalization that can elevate an Airbnb experience over that of a hotel. These little details also distinguish the good hosts from the incredible ones. Bet you can guess which category we think Tim is in!
“Was there anything wrong with the 2nd floor bedroom? Just need to know if it’s noisy, or too bright, etc for future guests. Thanks!”
Tim’s New Orleans Airbnb had two bedrooms, and we unconventionally chose the slightly smaller, more secluded one since we anticipated being on different sleep schedules. When Tim noticed that the main bedroom hadn’t been used, he got brave and asked if there was anything he could do to improve the room for future guests. We made sure to alleviate his concerns, but were so impressed with his dedication to continue to improve the experience he offers, despite all of his five star reviews.
“Thanks for the great review! Please come back anytime :)”
Last but not least, invest in relationships with top tier guests by inviting them back personally. By doing this via a private message in the Airbnb app, it felt more genuine than when a host responds to the public review. This personal note just to us was the kindest way to acknowledge our gesture. And you bet. We’ll be back!
Book Your Stay
If you’re heading to the city, this New Orleans Airbnb is simply sensational. We’d especially recommend Tim’s home to travelers like these.
Lower Garden District
A stunning and safe neighborhood with an abundance of good food and easy access to the trolley line.
Less than a mile from the conference center, this is the ideal spot if you’ll be in town for work.
Two separate bedrooms and plenty of space makes this Airbnb perfect for a pair of couples on the road.