Pros and cons of listing as a "private room" vs. an "entire home"

Does anyone have experience hosting a private room and an entire home?

I know a few other folks on here have homes similar to mine: you rent out a private floor, but may have some shared areas such as a laundry room, kitchen, or entrance.

I rent out my basement, which is basically a one-bedroom apartment with its own entrance, but I share the laundry room and there is also no door at the bottom of the staircase to separate the floor from the rest of the house. However, a friend of mine is installing a door soon, and it will technically make my unit “separate,” if I don’t mind waiting to do laundry in between guests.

I am debating whether or not I should list as a separate unit. After a slow winter, a friend of mine recently switched her basement studio from a “private room” to “entire home” and has had mixed results. She saw a big jump in bookings (where her competitively-priced upstairs private room room sits unbooked). However, she is no longer getting guests who are a good fit for what she offers.

Anyhow, just curious what your experience has been!

I have been through this. As frustrating at it is, the rule is, if there’s not a door completely separating the two living spaces, it is not an entire home. It is a private room. It’s especially frustrating because you can only list 1 bedroom, though I have two.

Here’s how I list it, it’s not ideal, but I can’t bend the rules. I’d rather the people be surprised by what they get than disappointed. It’s especially problematic in that so many people do list these types of spaces as entire homes, and they are not.

On the other hand, when I search for airbnb I don’t bother specifying ‘entire’ or ‘private’. I’m booked very well already for the summer so I guess it’s not hurting me to badly.

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I do not have a separate unit, but so far what i hear from my friend, she has much more problems with renting out separate unit than i a private room. Most of my guests are very good, though i do have my share of others.
My friend has every other time some trouble. She told me she could right a book about all these incidents that happened. She gets booked months ahead of time, mine is always last minute.
May be its he presence of owners in a house that makes a difference. My house never gets trashed, almost never. I am at almost 100 guests, and only couple times it was left pretty bad. Her house gets trashed often. Also people smoke inside of her house despite her rules of non smoking.


Those are some good points, Yana -

Also, after reading Yana’s post, I remember some guests have specifically WANTED to stay in a home with a host - and those from outside the US really want to see what a ‘real’ American family is like. And I think the fact the I have three kids probably weeds out a lot of guests - but other guests enjoy meeting them a lot.

So, I guess the bottom line is, go with what you ARE. Some people will want that, some not, but we want people who WANT WHAT WE HAVE! ; )

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Sorry, another thought -

We enjoy the interactions with our guests. I’ve learned so much about other countries and cultures, and it’s an amazing opportunity for my kids. We have guests arriving tomorrow from INNER MONGOLIA. How many 11 year old kids even KNOW what Inner Mongolia is?? (How many adults, lol?)

So if you bill yourself as ‘shared’ you may have more freedom to interact with the guests - if that’s what you would like. If ‘private’ then that may limit this opportunities.


Thank you all for the thoughtful replies! I’ll have to mull this over more, when the carpenter installs the door, how to list. Right now as a private room with a separate entry, I don’t let guests come into “my” areas of the house because, though I’m clean, I don’t have time to keep it AirBnB-standard clean, and I worry about absent-minded guests letting my pets out. However, since it is a private room, I can come into their guest area and see how they’re doing, which keeps the partying down. I don’t enter the bedroom, but I can enter their living room area since it is considered a shared space. I’m doing well in the search-rankings and getting a lot of views and bookings (though I’m not always full and I’m not booked out months in advance) so I am able to get enough attention to my listing I can attract the guests who love my space. I have hosted 11 trips so far and really only got two or three who weren’t a good fit, which I am really happy with! My friend who switched her basement studio to an “entire home” is booked back-to-back now but is unhappy with at least half the guests she gets because they are no longer self-selecting if they’re a good fit for her home and hosting style.

Keep us posted! Would love to hear if you come up with anymore observations. I can’t provide private entrance just yet - it’s around the back of my house through the yard - during inclement weather it would be a mess. We are now adding a full bathroom in the space and finishing more of it. Once we finish paying for that we can consider this an option.

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I have a separate, self-contained room with en-suite. It’s in a separate building to the main house and has it’s own entrance. I put it down for awhile as ‘entire home’ and then got people enquiring who then couldn’t understand why it was in the entire home category when there wasn’t a separate living space, own laundry and fully-equipped kitchen (there’s a small fridge, toaster kettle etc). Guests would ask well is it an entire home or is it just a room!!

I’ve gone back to private room. I’m booked about 95% of the time and i’m okay with that.

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For awhile I listed as ‘entire home’ since I offered two bedrooms and a kitchenette. I had a family (mixed gen, from China) arrive late at night - after I showed them the space they asked “and where do you live”. They were very surprised that I lived right upstairs!! It worked out great but it wasn’t a pleasant feeling at the moment. They were confused and not entirely happy. So I changed my listing to private room. Again, better that they are pleased to have the space and privacy they have and not disturbed that we are sharing the space to a small degree.

Please, anyone in this situation, write to airbnb and request that they change or add a category so we can list a private room with more than one bedroom! I did and the rep was very responsive, and thought it would be a great idea. Please encourage them to do so!!

I appreciate this discussion!

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What is the best way to reach them? I’ve heard they are most responsive on social media. I think guests would appreciate something to find listings “in between” a private bedroom and an “entire home,” as a basement studio with a separate entrance is rather different from a big ol’ house!

Describe in the first paragraph of your listing what you have so there will be no doubt or surprise!

“I offer a completely private, separate and lockable studio space on the garden level of my single-family home…” Then go on to describe the neighborhood exactly!!! And then go on to explain exactly what they are getting and what they are not getting! Tell them exactly how far they are from town. Etc etc, I use a great deal of the copy to explain this, so I don’t get someone expecting a white sand beach and Starbucks within walking distance!

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There was someone on here offering free floor plans - that would be ideal in such a situation, so you can show the proximity of ‘shared’ and private space, I’m going to do it - I just need to run downstairs and get the measurements.