THE last year or so, I’ve been an Airbnb Superhost (well, la-di-da!) after letting out the two spare bedrooms in my Hobart home to earn a bit of extra money and have a bit of company that’s human rather than canine.
You could say then, that I’m a decent host. Being a Superhost means loads of 5-star reviews — which my siblings are quick to point out has more to do with moderate personal charm than abilities as a housekeeper.
Around 200 strangers have pulled up stumps in my house and I’ve made a couple of lifelong friends, got a couple of good dinner party stories and had zero love affairs. I’ve also had a bunch of short friendships and it’s been glorious.
With so many people coming through my house, it’s fair to say I’m a reasonable authority on what makes an Airbnb guest the flatmate you wish you had, and what makes another question why you let strangers share your dunny.
The thing is, because you’re both being reviewed on Airbnb, you actually don’t get people acting like massive arseholes. No one’s going to trash your house, go to the toilet in your bed or punch your dog because you’ll write about it for all the internet to see.
Still, there are petty Airbnb crimes that make you count down the days until someone leaves.
THE LECTURING RACIST/SEXIST/ANY OTHER ‘IST’
I don’t know about you, but in my house, my dogs (Mabel and Goldie) and I keep a pretty open-hearted house. We welcome all genders, all races, all sexualities. Racism, sexism and any of their associated ‘isms’ make me physically uncomfortable.
Gauge what kind of home you’re going into — there will be indicators everywhere. The pretentious literary magazines, buddha statues and four different bins (recycling, compost, soft plastics, landfill) surely suggest I’m a bit of a bleeding heart hippy who won’t want to hear “the problem with Muslims …” or “the gender pay gap is rubbish, women just … ”
Likewise, if I was in an American home with MAKE AMERICA GREAT ephemera everywhere, I won’t be telling you about my plans to call my firstborn daughter Hillary.
Keep the chat polite, and surface-level. You’re only there a few days. We don’t need to find out each other’s views on Donald Trump’s tweets.
THE SCARY BOOZEHOUND
Before you hit the turps at your Airbnb house, figure out if your host likes a drink too. If not, don’t get drunk in their lounge room. One of the key unspoken contracts that goes on between Airbnb host and Airbnb guest is one of safety — you both behave in ways that indicates to the other that their safety is not at risk.
When a stranger is drunk, you have no idea how they’re going to act and it’s frightening. I once had a 58-year-old, 188cm guest in town to play golf and each night he’d polish off one or two bottles of red, getting louder and louder and more angry at the world. Perfectly nice guy when sober, but he frightened me when he was drunk and I wouldn’t recommend him to any other hosts.
THE GROCERY FIEND
Buy only the groceries you need! When you go, take them with you. I can guarantee your host doesn’t need another bag of wilting baby spinach. If you can take your King Island Cheese and your Lark Whisky, you can find room for the Nuttelex margarine and three-day-old, half-eaten sourdough in a brown paper bag on the kitchen bench.
Take your damned food when you go. Unless it’s chocolate. Please.
THE MESSY TEENAGER
Your host is opening her house for you to be a guest, she’s not your maid. At the end of your stay, if she’s a good host, she’ll strip the bed and clean the room thoroughly for the next person.
This doesn’t mean you need to leave it all a-shambles. Make an effort to leave it tidy — it shows your host you respect her a little. Ask whether she’d like the bed stripped, or just make it out of courtesy.
THE PUNK WHO THINKS HIS $60 ROOM SHOULD PROVIDE 5-STAR SERVICE
Get some perspective. You’re definitely paying about half, if not less, of what you’d pay in a hotel to have a room in someone’s home.
Of course, expect a clean room, clean sheets, clean towels, a clean bathroom, a clean kitchen, clean shared space, a decent internet connection, a television that works and a friendly host to welcome you.
A few months ago, I had a pretty overbearing guest who was there for a week, looking to invest in property in Tassie. He got the flu while he was at my place, so spent all week (day and night) on the couch watching all seven seasons of Suits on my Netflix while lecturing me about accounting, while his very sweet wife spent a lot of time in their bedroom reading.
Coughing, spluttering, heater up on full ball, watching Suits, when I left for work, when I came home from work.
I couldn’t have been more sympathetic or helpful to him — making him teas, checking in on him, listening to the lectures.
His review for my place? “This place is okay.”
What the hell else did this dude want from me? I couldn’t figure it out. I could only assume that the service wasn’t up to scratch, which made me realise: my house isn’t a hotel, it’s my home, so people shouldn’t expect 5-star service.