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How to Earn Top Dollar–and the Best Reviews–for your Cottage Rental

Cottage season is always an exciting time in the region, promising visitors an outdoorsy break from the everyday grind. This year, you can expect an even more eager clientele clamouring for a room without Zoom. If you’ve got a cottage to let, now’s the time to get it renter-ready. Not sure where to start? Not to worry. We’ve consulted with our founder, Andria, who’s not only an award-winning designer and interior decorator but also an Airbnb Superhost with a Haliburton rental that’s booked up months in advance.

Your clientele’s experience of your rental can be broken down into three distinct categories: the listing, the actual property, and the experience. Read on for how to elevate all three and delight your guests into leaving rave reviews.

Cottage living room

The Listing

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and your listing is that chance. Resist the urge to cut corners here. A little moderate effort and expense will go a long way towards presenting your property as a premier experience, a getaway worth the investment.

First up is the photography, which should be professionally shot. There’s little less inspiring than out-of-focus, dark, inexpertly cropped images. A professional will be able to light your space properly and capture images that compliment the size, space, and feel.

The text of your listing is no less important. Avoid overly flowery language and excessive superlatives. In travel writing, there’s a list of over-used words to be avoided at all costs. Strike nestled, hidden gem, breath-taking, and quaint from your writing. Your best bet is to be direct, descriptive, and honest. After all, while that washer/dryer set may be a welcome amenity, it’s hardly “jaw-dropping,” right?

Overall, your listing should be honest. You should be able to truthfully claim that the space is exactly as presented, and the property itself should be enough to entice the guest.

cottage kitchen

The Property

When it comes to styling your space, a few basic guidelines will get you the best result for your efforts. Think quality over quantity. Invest in key pieces like the couch, bed, and dining area. Protect your investment by using easy-cleaning and durable fabrics but don’t sacrifice style. There’s a huge selection of beautiful coverings that feel modern and snazzy.

coat hanging chubby

Perhaps surprisingly, stylish decor will have a larger return on investment than, say, the luxe appliances. While all your amenities should be modern, clean, and functional, appealing decor like candles, books, art, and cozy vignettes make guests feel comfortable and welcome. Nods to the location are welcome when used sparingly. A framed map or artwork is classy; a collection of ceramic canoes leans kitsch.

When it comes to your housewares, don’t choose the bargains.

Plush towels (and lots of them) leave a positive association and are worth the investment. Buy white sheets—they’re easily bleached—to make the beds feel clean and fresh. Discard flat, lifeless pillows. Equip the kitchen and bathroom with necessary soaps and lotions—bonus points for products that are locally made.

living room sofa

The Experience

This section could have easily been called “the vibe.” It’s about how to leave your guests with the feeling that they were welcome, comfortable, taken care of, and had a true experience. Some strategies are deceptively simple, like using a mild and natural fragrance diffuser prior to arrival. Others are more personal, like leaving a bottle of local wine or snacks on the table. A hand-written welcome note is a free and surprisingly evocative way to make your guests feel relaxed. It’s the little touches that take a rental from four to five stars.

fake plant in a pot in the living room

All images are of The Nest on Head Lake in Haliburton, Ontario, courtesy of Andria Cowan Molyneaux.


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