Five Senses in Five Minutes: How to Impress an Airbnb Guest the Moment They Walk in the Door

This post is all about creating a fabulous first impression for your guests! As we’ve moved from Airbnb to Airbnb, we’ve noticed how these clever hosting tactics can transform the first five minutes in a new space. Each trick delights one of the five senses, and together these small tweaks set your guests up for a 5-star stay.

Sight

Post Trail Markers

We’re huge fans of self check-in, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love a little direction when we first arrive. Put your guests at ease with a small trail marker that lets them know they’ve found the right place. Add an Airbnb symbol sticker to the door or add your guest’s names to a chalk board sign. If you want to go the extra mile, leave a quick note on a table welcoming the guests to your home. This is particularly thoughtful if your visitors are traveling for a special occasion like a honeymoon.

outside stair case to blue spruce loft
yellow entry way with coat rack and cello

Upgrade the Entry Way

Take a good look at the very first thing your guests see when they walk through the door. Is it welcoming? Is it decorated? Are there hooks for coats? Maybe a place to set a bag or a bowl for keys? Look for little opportunities to make your guests feel at home from the moment they turn the door handle.

Good lighting can make or break a guest’s visceral reaction as they enter a space. Once the suite is all cleaned up and ready for the next guests, take a moment to get the lighting just right.

Leave the Lights On

Good lighting can make or break a guest’s visceral reaction as they enter a space. Once the suite is all cleaned up and ready for the next guests, take a moment to get the lighting just right. Depending on when your guests will arrive, you might maximize the natural light or turn on a few soft lamps to accentuate the space. Just don’t let your guests arrive to a pitch black room and fumble for a light switch.

living room with red lamp

Smell

Light a Candle

Consider lighting a candle as you clean up between guests. One of our favorite Airbnbs had these fabulous lavender chamomile candle going for a bit before we arrived. This relaxing smell was even more impressive considering we had just arrived on a free-range farm!

cinnamon sticks in bowl

Warm Up Some Cinnamon Sticks

The old realtor’s trick. Just put a few cinnamon sticks in a bit of simmering water while you tidy up, and the whole place will smell like homemade apple pie when your guests walk through the door.

Good old fresh air and some Febreze Fabric can go a long way in keeping your space free of funky smells.

Open a Window or Two

Avoid any musty odors and create a cross breeze with a few open windows while you’re cleaning. Good old fresh air and some Febreze Fabric can go a long way in keeping your space free of funky smells.
kitchen window looking out on kentish countryside

Sound

Be Honest

Make sure there are no sound surprises when your guests walk through the door. Whether you’ve got adjoining suites, thin walls, a coup full of chickens, or pattering footsteps on the ceiling, include the details in your Airbnb description. Nothing can kill those first few moments for a guest more than realizing they’re less alone than they thought they’d be.

Whether you’ve got adjoining suites, thin walls, a coup full of chickens, or pattering footsteps on the ceiling, include the details in your Airbnb description.

Emphasize or Diminish the Noise Outside

If you live in a bustling city, make sure those windows are nice and tight when guests arrive. You might add a fan to the bedroom which doubles as a white noise machine. (Check out our full Bedroom Essentials Checklist here!) But if you’re nestled in some beautiful natural surroundings, consider leaving a few windows open for your guests. We’ve arrived to find sounds of a calm summer breeze and the soft rustling of fall leaves.
fall leaves out window
chickens behind fence

Touch

Prep the Temperature

Whether you need to turn on the air conditioning or kick off the space heater, get the temperature set up for your guests. Then double check that guests will know how to adjust the temperature as needed, whether you leave a sticky note on the side of the fridge or add instructions to a page in your house manual.

space heater in old fire place
olive oil hand soap and hand lotion

Set Out Soap and a Hand Towel

The bathroom is one of the first places most travelers will visit after arriving. Keep guests from rummaging through the cabinets by setting out good hand soap and a soft hand towel.

Hard floors should feel smooth, not tacky, and carpet or rugs should feel soft and clean. Everything should be barefoot friendly.

Ensure Barefoot Friendly Floors

Many guests will remove their shoes when they enter a new Airbnb. Leave a durable mat for their shoes and then test out the floors yourself. Hard floors should feel smooth, not tacky, and carpet or rugs should feel soft and clean. Everything should be barefoot friendly.

Prepare for the Flop

After a long day of travel, it doesn’t take long for us to kick off our shoes and flop on the nearest couch, chair, or bed as we figure out what to do next. We love places with inviting furniture or comfy throw pillows. Think about where this first relaxation session would happen in your space and make sure it’s clean and soft to the touch.

light blue rug
living room with two blue chairs

Taste

Offer Something to Eat

We’ve entered Airbnb kitchens to find all sorts of delicious things: sea salt chocolate bars, fruit and granola bar baskets, old-fashioned donuts, shortbread cookies. We even walked into one spectacular Airbnb to find a fresh loaf of homemade bread, softened butter, sprigs of rosemary, fresh eggs, homegrown cherry tomatoes, and a handful of raspberries waiting for us. The goal is to leave just enough food to appease a guest’s immediate hunger, but it’s also an opportunity to impress!

table with flowers, bread, cherry tomatoes
cup of coffee on teal table

And Something to Drink

We’ve seen hosts get creative here too. Coffee and tea are wonderful pick-me-ups after a long drive or plane ride. We’ve been greeted by a bottle of wine or delicious beer from the local brewery. One of the simplest but most appreciated touches we’ve encountered was a decorative bottle filled with chilled tap water in the fridge. More than anything, these touches highlight the thought you’ve put into the rest of your space.

Most hosts have pointed us to the best local restaurants, but the superstars have also left behind directions to their favorite local takeout spots.

Leave a Few Takeout Menus

Most hosts have pointed us to the best local restaurants, but the superstars have also left behind directions to their favorite local takeout spots. We’ve gratefully discovered takeout menus pinned to a thin strip of cork board in the kitchen or tucked inside a local guidebook. It’s the quickest way to set up tuckered-out travelers for a fabulous first evening.
Beautiful kitchen workspace in Salt Lake City

Happy Hosting!

We’d love to hear what you do to make your guests feel right at home in those first few minutes at your Airbnb. Leave a comment below and until next time, happy hosting!

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