Luxury Travel on a Budget: Those Extra Details that Take your Property to the Next Level

luxury travel on a budget

By The Hospitable Team

Creating luxury stays allows you to maximize revenue on nightly rates and have fun designing and curating a beautiful property. But, if you’re not in a position to build an infinity pool or hire an in-house chef, meeting your target audience’s expectations could be a challenge. 

In this article, we speak to Brian Seelos, owner of nine stunning vacation properties, who proves that luxury doesn’t have to mean expensive. Brian started managing his properties using with such success that we brought him into the team as a sales executive. The key is to elevate the small things, like home goods and check-in processes, and to create memorable experiences that exceed your guests’ expectations. 

We explore recommendations for creating luxury stays while taking care not to overspend, and how to successfully:

  • Make the most of your interiors
  • Select the best home goods
  • Offer personalized add-on services
  • Make your listings stand out
  • Have a professional direct bookings website 

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What do guests look for in a luxury vacation rental

Brian says that guests looking for a luxury vacation rental “want to spend a little bit more money because they know what they like. They want to be comfortable, they want things to work and they want things to be easy.”

Managing a luxury vacation rental property means putting in extra work to ensure there are no issues at any stage. From check-in through to check-out, you need to deliver a completely frictionless experience. So, just as you would expect from an upmarket hotel, you need to provide quality amenities, be on-point with all your communication, and be responsive to individual needs and preferences.    

A unique and personalized experience

Picture this… Your guest walks into a property that has all the essentials—fragrant soaps and toiletries in the shower, all the must-haves in the kitchen, nice new linens on the bed. It’s great, but it’s nothing special.      

Compare that to what you might expect of a personalized stay: A welcome basket with locally sourced foods and treats, a smart juicer and freshly picked oranges from the backyard, a gorgeously presented book of recommended nearby walks. That care and attention is what makes for a memorable stay.

Screenshot of Airbnb review
Special unexpected treats are a great way to show personalized care to guests.

Once you understand more about your target audience, you can think about how to make their stay that bit more special for them. Personalized recommendations and surprise treats and services can make all the difference.

Showing attention to detail

On the difference in the guest experience in his properties compared to elsewhere, Brian says, “I have people all the time saying they slept better in our beds than they do in theirs or the coffee they had is way better than they’ve had anywhere else.” It’s clear that the magic is in the details.

From your choice of towels, crockery, and linens, to how you manage your property and daily operations, you should aim to delight your guests. 

So, look for opportunities to add value to your service—whether that means accessorizing with artwork and scented candles, regularly adding a fresh coat of paint to your exteriors, or refitting your light switches and electrical sockets so they complement all your other design choices. 

Providing a white-glove service 

Taking your guests’ stays beyond that of the average vacation rental property means ensuring they can completely relax throughout; asking them to complete tasks like taking out the bins can make them feel, in Brian’s words, “like they’re staying at their parent’s house.”

So, to provide a white-glove service, take a step back and let your guests enjoy their visit, while still making sure they know you’re available whenever needed. 

We recommend checking in with your guests a day after arrival to identify and combat any issues and to demonstrate the level of service high-end travelers expect. 

With Hospitable’s automated messaging, you can send out proactive messages—including an early-stay check-up—as well as personalized responses to common issues, all without even being on your phone.   

Screenshot of Hospitable’s automated messaging function
Be available 24/7 by allowing Hospitable to send messages on your behalf

5 ways to create a luxury vacation rental experience without breaking the bank

Providing luxury-level attention to detail, care, and service is achievable—even on a budget.  

Take inspiration from other properties out there that have created a great luxury experience, and find ways to replicate their success by learning from these expert insights.   

1. Elevate your design

A minimalist look is the easiest way to create a luxury feel without huge financial investment. The key is to look for a small number of high-quality furniture pieces. Faux leather sofas look great but are also easy to clean and long-lasting, while warm wooden tables instantly create an intimate atmosphere. 

And, as Brian highlights, you can find affordable versions of expensive pieces at Wayfair, a fantastic platform for sourcing high-value home furnishings and appliances.  

Look to improve lighting by including at least three forms of light in each space. Choose one main focal point for a ceiling light and then give your guests options in the form of standard lamps or spotlights. In the living spaces, make sure all your bulbs are warm, reserving cold lighting for the kitchen, bathroom, and your exteriors.

In this bright, airy living room (below), Brian uses one strong piece of artwork to create a visual focal point. And with just two carefully chosen patterned cushions, he expertly offsets the muted tones of the furniture and flooring. Meanwhile, the simple wooden coffee table is practical and uncluttered. 

So, with only the lightest of touches, Brian creates a warm, cohesive space that’s calming and expansive.

A living space in the short-term rental, Five Point’s Cottage
Brian’s vacation rental makes great use of patterns and textures for a minimalist, elevated.

2. Invest in amenities that set your STR apart 

From Egyptian cotton linen to essential oil soap bars, carefully select items and, where possible, locally crafted goods, that reflect your commitment to taste and quality.

The extra you spend on stocking your property with luxury items is worth it if it fills just one or two additional nights in your calendar. Even so, you can use warehouse memberships to get great discounts on products you buy regularly or in bulk. 

Brian recommends HostGPO, “a group-purchasing club for short-term rental owners that allows you to get 30-40% off retail value.” 

Consider stocking your property with these items to provide a luxury stay on a budget:

  • A range of herbal teas for a relaxing evening and to meet individual tastes
  • Sheets with 1000+ thread count which are both softer and longer-lasting 
  • Memory foam mattresses such as this one are super-comfortable and inexpensive to replace, which you’ll need to do every year or so 
  • Large towels with 1000+ thread count for an indulgent bathing experience 
  • Body lotion with SPF expresses extra care for your guests
The kitchen at short-term rental, Five Points Backyard Retreat
Brian says investing in a smart espresso machine is another great way to delight your guests.

3. Offer personalized add-on services

Luxury travel is not just about the destination itself, but the experience, too. By providing add-on services, you can make your guest’s stay more memorable. 

Brian gives the example of offering Uber discount codes, but you could also consider the following ways to partner with local providers in order to offer extra services that your guests will notice and appreciate, even if they don’t always take advantage of them: 

  • Offer discounted airport transportation service
  • Offer babysitting/daycare services 
  • Pick up grocery packages 
  • Organize guided tours
  • Buy/Rent bikes
  • Offer discounts on local events, activities, and attractions
  • Offer decoration and other custom services for special occasions

4. Make your listings stand out

Creating a luxury, frictionless stay isn’t enough to attract high-end travelers—you need to successfully market your property and service, too. 

Use professional-looking photography or create a property walkthrough and, in the words of Brian, “put your best picture forward” on your listings. Pair the most attractive parts of your property with a detailed description that paints a picture of what it would be like for the guest to stay there. 

Look to Instagram or explore luxury vacation rental sites like Plum Guide and Airbnb Luxe for inspiration. 

A screenshot of a home in New York listed on Plum Guide marketplace
Luxury vacation rental marketplace Plum Guide uses beautiful imagery to market its stays

5. Create a professional direct booking website

You can build on a feeling of luxury and exclusivity by creating your own direct booking site. Create a story about your properties and your brand that will engage your dream guests. 

Running your property in your family town? Got a great outdoor space? Showcase what makes your stays special. Make new guests feel like they’ve stumbled across something unique, and help returning guests feel like old friends. 

Pro tip: Create a stunning website with—with every direct booking avoiding platform fees and OTA commissions.

We sync your calendars for all your direct and OTA bookings, and automate your guest communication.

Take a look at Brian’s website below as an example of what you can do. He puts the images that are the “heart and soul of his rental” upfront, clearly showcasing the gorgeous interiors.  

A screenshot of Brian’s direct booking site created by
Brian uses beautiful photography throughout his website.

Each property on Brian’s direct booking website includes a detailed description that highlights its luxury amenities and unique characteristics. His website also has a user-friendly calendar that’s synced with all your latest booking information.

A screenshot of the descriptions on Brian’s direct booking site
Speaking directly to his target audience, the description of Brian’s vacation rental is immediately engaging.

Ready to take your property to the next level? Use these strategies to create a luxury stay

Creating luxurious properties and stays doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. Here’s a summary of the most important things to remember:

  • Have a minimalist approach to design, using a small number of strong visual focal points
  • Find quality locally sourced toiletries, foods, and treats
  • Personalize your add-on services
  • Automate communication
  • Build a beautiful direct booking website with professional-looking imagery

With careful attention to detail and by using our expert tips and strategies, you can create unique experiences that delight your guests.

Manage your luxury vacation rentals with Hospitable.

Create a beautiful direct booking site, automate messages, win 5-star reviews.
Start today with a 14-day free trial.
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