So You've Booked an Apartment: 5 Tips on How to Be a Good Guest

Some well-meaning advice on how to get the most out of your stay.

Apart from learning about life in multiple souvenir shops, my previous experience in tourism also includes a summer spent working as assistant to an owner of private accommodation units. As the place didn't have a 24/7 reception desk, the title of assistant implied staying close to my phone the whole day, waiting for the boss to call and let me know a group of guests is about to arrive. I was, in fact, a glorified key-bearer, spending my days running back and forth from my place to the apartments in the city centre. The experience used to be a bit frustrating at times, made better only by the fact I had a close friend for a colleague. A long summer of sharing anecdotes and dealing with all kinds of people left us with a couple of tips for potential guests, the following "we" point of view including me, my colleague, and all other managers out there.

So, you've successfully booked an apartment and are on your way to your destination. We kindly suggest a few things to keep in mind:

1) Stay in touch.

If your booking confirmation email included something along the lines of "we kindly ask you to let us know the expected time of your arrival", do that. We don't make that up for our amusement, we do it because we might be working on call and would really like to know the approximate time we need to show up so you wouldn't wait for us in front of the apartment building. Or, as the case often wants it, the other way around.
Nobody expects you to arrive at the exact minute you announced, but if by chance you arrive in the city a couple of hours earlier, let us know. If you're running a couple of hours late, let us know. On that note...

2) If you're not planning to show up at all, please let us know.

On many occasion, we waited around for hours, repeatedly tried to reach the arriving guests to no avail, then gave up after 1 AM only to receive a message the next day saying "forgot to let you know we wouldn't be coming, sorry". Calling the manager or sending a quick text or an email will take you less than a minute, and it will make a huge difference on our part. We don't like reservations falling through unannounced, nor do we like sitting in front of a building at night, wondering about the meaning of life.

If you, for some reason, don't show up and don't let us know until the next day, be so kind and skip the part saying "we decided for another apartment the last minute ha-ha!" We really don't need to know that.

3) Don't be petty.

If you decide to leave a review online, try to be reasonable. There's a difference between a five-star hotel and a small privately owned apartment, and you probably won't be getting the same quality of service in 20€ and 150€ accommodation. Rate your experience according to sensible criteria and keep in mind you might be influencing someone's chance to make a living. To be clear, if you've had a horrible stay, I don't suggest staying silent about it. However, giving a service an extremely bad rating due to personal preferences or pet peeves we couldn't have known in advance is not a nice thing to do.

Having said that, "we had cockroaches in the apartment" would be a reasonable complaint. "There was no running water and the manager ignored our calls" would be a reasonable complaint. "There was no toilet paper anywhere in the apartment" would be a reasonable complaint.

"I couldn't find an egg whisker among the kitchen utensils" is not a reasonable complaint.

Giving an apartment a two-star rating (out of ten) due to not finding an egg whisker is even less reasonable.

4) Pay attention to all available information. 

This one should be a given, but it's fascinating how often people don't take the time to carefully read the information about the accommodation unit that's available online. I'm aware our attention span has become significantly shorter in the age of likes, shares and clickbaits, but it's in your interest to find out what exactly you'll be getting for your money. That way, you won't be disappointed upon arrival, and we won't have to explain why there is no kitchen in a bedroom for two even though your booking invoice clearly states "bedroom for two" and not "apartment for two".

One other thing to pay attention to is the payment method. In some cases, paying by card might not be an option and it's better to plan in advance than wander around a foreign city at night, looking for an ATM.

5) Try to be kind

If by any chance you end up ignoring the previous four arguments, remember that the employees you're dealing with are not to blame for the service not meeting your expectations. We are here to make sure you are happy with your accommodation and we'll help in any possible way, but you can't expect us to magically come up with two extra rooms during high season or provide you with a parking spot you didn't tell us you'd need. Fits of rage and abusive language will not get you anywhere - all problems can be resolved and we're more likely to come up with a solution if we all remain calm and level-headed. After all, you're on holiday: as long as the place is clean, tidy and comfortable, have fun, relax and enjoy your stay. Oh, and if you wish for an egg whisker, let us know before you leave, and we'll be happy to provide you with one.