One of the big benefits to staying in an Airbnb instead of a hotel is the kitchen. If you like to cook, being able to do so away from home can be a great way to get to know a city’s culture or just save some cash.
On the other hand, lots of Airbnbs, listed as full apartments though they may be, are really, really small. And even if the kitchen isn’t tiny, there are plenty of variables and surprises that can throw a wrench into your culinary plans. For the best Airbnb cooking experience, follow this guide from GQ.
Pick the right rental. Is there a stovetop and an oven? If it’s summer, is there a grill? (If you’ll be cooking inside in warm weather, is there air conditioning? Once you cook, where will everyone sit to eat? Scour the listing and pictures carefully, and don’t be afraid to email the host with any questions.
Check with the host ahead of time. Let your host know you’re planning on cooking — they might restock pantry staples, or they might let you know the gas has been shut off for a month. Or, if there’s a shared kitchen that the listing promises you use of, a heads-up may be crucial to make sure four people aren’t all trying to use the oven at once. Your host can also let you know about local markets and grocery stores.
When you’re there, assess what you’ve got. Once you check in, take a pass through the kitchen. Check the staples and the cookware and look for necessities you’d hate to discover missing once you’re halfway through a meal. (Corkscrew, salt and dish soap are my big three.) Make note of anything you need and pick it up on your way back home after your day’s adventures.
Explore local markets. This is a great way to get to know a new city or town, whether it’s a butcher shop, outdoor market, or four stands of produce from nearby farms. When you encounter an ingredient that’s new to you, you can ask how to cook it here, too.
Shop megastores, too. Especially in a foreign country, there’s plenty of local flavour and authenticity to be found at a supermarket. (Stock up on crazy flavours of potato chips, while you’re at it!) You can also save money buying staples here instead of at small boutiques.
Sometimes, shop ahead. If you have dietary restrictions, you may want to pack some gluten-free pasta or whatever you’ll need, in case you can’t find it where you’re going. Whether it’s comfort food you won’t find where you’re going or a crucial ingredient for a big dish you have planned, as long as it can withstand the trip, there’s no shame in bringing it with you.