8 Ways to Improve a Holiday Rental

Ready to take your holiday cottage or Airbnb property to the next level? Replicate the hotel experience through enhanced service, interior styling and branding.

Bed Drama

There’s nothing more irresistible than a perfectly made bed. The overriding memory of any hospitality experience is the comfort and quality of the sleep had there, so the mattress and bedding is a crucial area on which to spend time and money planning.

Hotel quality sheets of at least 400 thread count in 100% cotton are key for comfort and tactility. Visually, a vast amount of white can be jarring, so incorporate colour and pattern on loose cover cushions, a bedspread and valance.

A statement headboard such as those in Kit Kemp’s Firmdale hotels will also create drama and a more interesting mix of colour and texture. They are also incredibly photogenic which will help with social sharing and bookings via visual platforms such as Instagram.

Give each bed a distinct theme to help guests distinguish between bedrooms on the listing. It will also add interest and excitement, photo opportunities, and will further exemplify the taste and style of the owner.

Large square pillows will fill out space behind the pillows on king and super king sized beds. One king size and one standard pillow will also help with this. King size pillows are very nice on single beds, with a regular sized pillow in front, to add interest and also comfort when parents jump in bed with their children to read a bedtime story. Scatter cushions should always have removable covers, and any bedspread or throw should also be hardy enough for frequent washing. Flat linen sheets used as bedspreads work really well here, and get better after each wash.

Oversized lamps are another great way to add drama but should generally be paired with smaller reading lights. These could clip to the bedside table or headboard.

The magic of a minibar

One of the most exciting things about checking into a new hotel is to rifle through the minibar to see what treats have been picked for you. Recreate this in your holiday listing. The cost could be absorbed into the nightly rate, or a small price list could be provided nearby. To eliminate the admin of identifying and charging what has been consumed, you might consider an honesty bar style approach.

Stick an attractive basket on a shelf of the fridge, or choose things that will be happy at room temperature and organise on a pretty tray. Look for snacks and drinks that are made locally and artisanally. Packaging should be attractive but also sustainable, and if wine, champagne or bottled cocktails are offered, you should make sure the appropriate openers, glasses and ice are also available. Look for combinations of products – a bottled cocktail from a local bar, for example, might be enjoyed with artisan crisps, nuts or olives. 

You might consider selling books and novels relevant to the local area or locally made gifts. Things guests might have enjoyed around the house such as mugs, blankets and candles would also be an excellent addition. Any books should be wrapped in paper, and broken paper seals should always be charged for.

Welcome book

Talking of books, provide a proper welcome book or folder, rather than a couple of print outs in a ring binder. This will feel more thoughtful, permanent and luxurious and not like a last minute thought.

Include all the usual information about your property, but also consider adding recommended itineraries, your favourite pub and even a locally inspired or your family’s favourite recipe that guests could make together in the kitchen.


The best concierges are anticipatory, and there are a few simple things you can do to replicate this style of service. For example, if it’s due to rain during your guests’ stay, then leave umbrellas near the door and offer to make taxi reservations, or suggest indoor activities nearby. Tell a young family about the best child friendly restaurants nearby before they ask – it’s obvious they’ll need the information. 

Get to know your local attractions, and offer to book tickets for your guests. If the group is celebrating a special occasion, send across details of your favourite florist, bakery and even family photographers, or offer to make these arrangements on their behalf.


The simplest bathroom could be elevated with quality toiletries, and, for that matter, plush robes and towels. To reduce wasteful packaging, attach a bracket to the wall that will securely hold three large bottles, and use glass pump containers. Faith in Nature do a lovely product in 5L volume to refill pretty bottles. Meraki do a nice range of shower gel, shampoo and conditioner in attractive 500ml bottles.

Hotel quality towels (Egyptian cotton from the likes of Christy or King of Cotton) should be placed on towel radiators if you have them, not beds.

Photogenic interiors

Hotels have started to really harness the power of shareable interiors. A social share is a recommendation and essentially free marketing for the property. If everything is bland for reasons of mass appeal and available to buy in Ikea, why would guests photograph it?

Create cosy corners or statement mantlepieces using art, bookcases and colour. Find unique pieces at antique markets and collect artworks at affordable art fairs and local galleries.

Viral shares generally have one thing in common: a proliferation of something. This could be a colour over the floors, walls and ceiling, hundreds of baskets on the wall or lots of antique lamps hanging from the ceiling. This approach is immersive, playful, and invites the guest to be photographed there. Of course, interiors should not be designed FOR social media, as this often is to the detriment of the experience as a whole, but it would be unwise not to keep little photographic vignettes in mind in this Instagram age.

Signage & wayfinging

Another way to create a hotel experience is to introduce branded signage and way finding into your property to inform, assist and guide, helping with guest orientation and clarity. It elevates a property from family home to a hospitality environment. The information will be practical – which way to the spare blanket cupboard, how to lock the back door – but presented in an attractive and professional way. You could use brass plaques, enamel signs or framed print-outs.


That brings me to branding. Strategic naming, visual identity, photography style and tone of voice are the key elements of branding that will strengthen the quality of your offer. A strong brand will help to create a trustworthy product that is easily marketable, memorable and immersive for the guest.

A strong brand name will make your company easy to google, and the repetition of a logo, wordmarque and brand assets across printed ephemera will be easily recognisable as you both on– and offline. All the necessary comms, from booking confirmations to welcome letters, will look chic and professional in brand fonts and colours, and the tone of voice should be as consistent throughout.

Contact Hannah

If you are looking to develop an existing or brand new hotel concept,
guest experience or creative strategy, I’d love to help.



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