A Food-Lover’s Checklist for Choosing an Airbnb

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Choosing an Airbnb can be an arduous task — and I should know. I stayed in Airbnbs for an entire year. Along the way, I learned a lot about vacation rentals, but the most important thing I learned was this: The kitchen is the heart of any home, even when it’s not your permanent home.

So, how can you make sure that you get not only the right vacation rental for you, but also one that has a great (or at least a viable) kitchen? Here’s my food-lover’s checklist for choosing an Airbnb.

1. Kitchen is listed as an amenity.

You’ve likely scrolled through to see if “wireless internet” or “breakfast” are included as an amenity; hopefully you’ve never been surprised when “essentials” (linens, soap, and toilet paper) is not. Well, here’s one more thing to look for: As a food-loving traveler, it’s crucial to confirm that the “kitchen” is listed as available to guests.

This may sound silly or basic (or both), but this is especially important when you’re renting a private room (as opposed to the entire apartment or house). Even if your travel itinerary includes every meal out, it’s nice to know you can swing by the corner market and grab ingredients for a home-cooked meal if you want to — perhaps to share with your host or newfound travel friends?

2. The photo gallery has gorgeous kitchen pictures.

As you’re scrolling through photos of the lush backyard, private pool, or perfect mountain vistas, make sure to check the photo gallery for pictures of the kitchen. Of course, I’ve faced the reality that some properties do not match the photos, but these photos are your best chance to figure out if the Airbnb is a good fit for you.

Is the kitchen a place you can imagine preparing (and enjoying) a meal? Does it look clean? Is it bright or spacious or inviting? Is there enough counter space?

Importantly: Can you infer the layout from the photos? Open-plan apartments may mean you’re sleeping next to the stove.

3. The reviews have favorable kitchen mentions.

After the photos and amenities, the next most important place to look is the reviews. You might have to wade through some bland reviews, but if you find one that raves about the kitchen, you know you’re on the right path. Conversely, a review that directly mentions a bad kitchen is a huge red flag! Sometimes, hosts use a liberal definition of kitchen when what they really mean is a hotplate, electric kettle, and mini-fridge (yes, I saw this in an Airbnb listing in Europe).

4. There’s a place to enjoy your meal.

As you peruse the photo gallery and reviews, try to determine if there’s a place to enjoy your meal. Is there a dining table? A balcony with outside furniture? Maybe a coffee table and couch setup? A great meal always seems a little diminished by having to stand and eat it from the counter you just cleaned to make room for your plate.

5. The kitchen is equipped with the necessary appliances.

Photos are your first plan of attack here: If you don’t see a standing mixer or coffee maker, it’s best to assume that you might not have them to work with. Still, some hosts will hide appliances in cupboards, so it’s worth asking, especially if everything else looks great.

6. The host includes a guidebook with local restaurants.

Did you know that Airbnb allows hosts to build a “guidebook” to accompany their property? Even if you’ve already got your own list of must-dos and must-eats, it’s worth checking out this page before booking. It can give you a good sense of your host’s knowledge of the area, whether you can trust their recommendations, and how much a food-lover they are!

Are there any other criteria you use to choose an Airbnb that meets your food-loving travel needs?