The Ultimate Kitchen Setup Guide & Checklist for Short-Term Rentals

January 29,2024 | Published by Barr Balamuth

Short-term rental kitchens are at the heart of your the on-stay experience.


For many guests, a well-equipped kitchen is one of the biggest benefits of staying in a short-term rental. Cooking meals means guests get to save money, eat healthier, and accommodate dietary restrictions – so it's not a surprise that kitchens have become so key to getting booked - and the data backs this up.

According to one survey, 64% of short-term rental guests opt to cook for themselves, and even more (67%) said they they averaged two or three meals a day at their short-term rental stay. A separate TripAdvisor survey found that a whopping 83% of potential guests rate a fully equipped kitchen as a top priority – even above the cost of the booking itself.  

"67% of guests said they they averaged two or three meals a day during their stay."

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to setting up a kitchen your guests will love. Consider the setting of your short-term rental: Is it nestled in a culinary hotspot where guests might prefer dining out? Or is it in a secluded location where cooking is the only convenient option? Understanding your property's location is crucial in selecting the right appliances and cookware. Here are some other considerations as you decide how to set up your kitchen.

Buy the right stuff, replace it less often

Kitchen items tend to get used a lot, and dealing with replacements can be a huge hassle, especially if you have to do it after every few stays at your property. Not all guests will handle items with the same care you would. 

Consider silicone cooking utensils. They resist stains and odors, maintaining a fresh appearance over time. Plus, they're safe for nonstick surfaces, helping to extend the life of your cookware. Explore top-grade silicone options from our partners like Public Goods and Italic to upgrade your rental's kitchen.


Happy cleaning teams make for happy hosts

While your cleaning team handles turnovers, they might not scrutinize every kitchen item - especially when you have a shorter timeline before your next booking. Choosing darker-hued cookware and dinnerware can cleverly mask signs of wear and tear.

Colorful kitchen essentials can be both stylish and practical. Discover a variety of elegant and richly colored cookware from Great Jones and sharply patterned options from Poketo that will look great in your listing photos for years to come. 

Keep it organized

It’s tempting to fill your short-term rental's kitchen with elaborately complicated cooking gadgets fit for Gordon Ramsay, but guests almost always prefer clutter-free spaces. Evaluate how much space you have in your kitchen and make sure all your purchases have a place to stay too. 

Storage essentials: To keep your kitchen tidy, check out storage solutions from Yamazaki.

The Kitchen Set Up Checklist

Setting up a great short-term rental kitchen is all about balancing comfort, convenience, and a touch of luxury to make your guests' stay memorable. Here's a streamlined checklist to ensure yours stands out.

Small kitchen appliances

Short-term rental guests rely on a few appliances to cook up simple meals (or just re-heat them). This is what we recommend stocking up on to get your kitchen ready for hungry guests

Coffee maker (plus coffee filters and instructions)
Rice cooker
Waffle iron


      Tableware and flatware

      Here’s a great rule of thumb: Provide double the number of glasses, bowls, and plates that would serve your short-term rental’s maximum number of guests. If your home sleeps 4 guests, you should have 8 plates and cutlery sets. Your guests will be grateful that they can enjoy more meals before having to run the dishwasher.

      Butter knives
      Steak knives
      Water glasses
      Wine glasses (we recommend stemless, which are harder to break)
      Large plates
      Small plates
      Coffee cups
      Plastic cups
      Plastic plates
      Large serving bowls and plates
      Serving platters


      Pro Tip: We recommend selecting matching, minimalist dinnerware, such as all-white bowls, plates, and mugs. It’s a simple, smart way to make at-home dining feel more streamlined and sophisticated for your guests. A jumble of mismatched pieces will make every meal look messy and cluttered. Choosing matching tableware is also more efficient—you’ll find it easier to purchase replacements. 


      Cookware and bakeware

      Start off with a non-stick pan, an essential for basic cooking, like scrambling eggs, pan-searing fish, or making pancakes. Plus, look for dishwasher-safe items and spare your cleaning team  the hassle of scrubbing off your guests’ leftovers after every stay.

      Half-quart covered saucepan
      3-quart covered saucepan
      8-quart covered stockpot
      4-quart covered sauté pan
      10-inch non-stick skillet
      8 1⁄2-inch skillet
      Baking dish
      Casserole dishes
      Roasting pan
      Cookie sheets 


      Kitchen utensils and accessories

      This all comes down to what your guests are cooking, so provide the tools that are used most often in recipes. A quick way to elevate your kitchen experience? Purchase kitchen utensils all made from the same materials, such as wood, plastic, Teflon, or stainless steel.  

      Sharp knives 
      Slotted spoon
      Kitchen shears
      Cutting boards
      Knife sharpener
      Mixing spoons
      Mixing bowls
      Measuring cups
      Measuring spoons
      Oven mitts
      Can opener
      Wine/bottle opener
      Beer bottle opener
      Cooking thermometer 

      Kid-friendly items

      If you're catering to families, consider a child’s needs when stocking your short-term rental kitchen. Parents (or you)  probably don’t want their children carrying breakable plates and glasses. Similar to your outdoor dinnerware, offer plastic or unbreakable items for the little ones. It’s unlikely that parents will travel with a full tableware set for their children (or bring their own high chair), so win them over by supplying what’s needed for the whole family to dine safely together. 

      High chair
      Sippy cups
      Dishwasher-safe plastic plates
      Dishwasher-safe plastic bowls
      Dishwasher-safe plastic cups

      Starter spices, condiments, and pantry supplies

      No guest wants to run out to buy salt or a new bottle of cooking oil, only to use a small portion and leave the rest behind. Stocking on a few basic staples will make your guests feel at home (and save them from dashing off to a convenience store). It’s a major convenience that your guests will be grateful for.

      Cooking oil

      Food storage

      Leftovers are inevitable, so supply your guests with a few ways to store their food. Plus, make it easy for them to carry meals on the go. We recommend labeling your containers clearly on the bottom so that guests don’t accidentally take them home.

      Plastic or glass food containers
      Plastic wrap
      Sandwich bags
      Aluminum foil

      Cleaning and maintenance supplies

      Stock your kitchen with the essentials for wiping down countertops, tables, and other dirty surfaces. 

      Hand soap
      Dish soap
      Dishwasher detergent
      All-purpose cleaner
      Cleaning gloves
      Kitchen towels
      Paper towel holder
      Disinfectant wipes
      Garbage bags

      Go above and beyond

      Adding a signature appliance to your short-term rental kitchen is a great way to wow your guests and go the extra mile. Plus, you can highlight it as a special amenity in your listing description. Consider adding an espresso machine for barista-quality coffee, a wine cooler to properly store and serve wine, or a sparkling water maker so guests can enjoy bubbly refreshment on demand. On the less elaborate but still impressive end of things: it's always nice to stock a guests' fridge with complimentary beverages or snacks for them to enjoy after a long travel journey. Going the extra mile with small details like high-end appliances showcases your hospitality, makes your rental stand out, and gives guests something to rave about in their reviews.


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