Should charcoal be complimentary?

We’ve got a grill. Our guests are going to want to grill. Mind you, I’m still in the planning stages for getting my rental running, but I already know people are going to be out on the deck playing with meat and fire. It’s a summer tradition, and I expect that we’ll rent mostly in the summer.

Hosts who have a grill—do you supply a complimentary bag of charcoal/bottle of gas for guests to have cookouts? There is a (very small) grocery store fairly close by to our place, so they would have someplace to buy it if I didn’t supply it. I am somewhat worried about cost. On the other hand, it seems like a nice gesture.

I would suggest propane, charcoal is more dangerous and you need to dispose of the coals somewhere. If you are US based, propane is fairly inexpensive right now. Walmart exchanges cylinders for $15. I would not charge for the use.


I agree with Brandt. Get a tabletop gas grille with an 8 gallon propane tank.


I have a Weber Q on the patio which is a popular gas BBQ brand here in Oz. I provide the gas free as I barely get through 1 bottle in summer. On a slightly related note I see ABB lists an amenity as “fireplace (wood provided)”. If I did that I would expect them to provide their own wood which can be bought at nearby service stations for $18 for a 15kg bag which should get them through the weekend. i think it is a bit cheeky of ABB to expect it to be provided for free.


My Brooklyn hipster guests want charcoal. Lot of rentals around my area provide them. It is a delicate dance. I would provide charcoal for a weekend. Not for a week.

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It is also worth pointing out that almost every Mom & Pop hotel and camp I have been to in the Adirondacks provides charcoal grills - usually fixed into the ground – for each cabin or a few within a communal area. Guests are expected to provide their own charcoal.

There are charcoal grills in Central Park, by the way.


We have a gas grill on the property that doesn’t belong to anyone. It was probably left behind by a previous owner so has become communal property. I don’t mention it in the listing because it’s a removable or breakable amenity. (I know that any indoor appliance or item is too but if the fridge broke inside the rental, I’d replace it.)

Sometimes though guests see it when they are here and ask if they can use it. I say that they can but explain that I don’t maintain it, clean it or ensure that it has gas. Then I reiterate this in the message system ('Further to our conversation today…) plus say something like ‘so please feel free to use it at your own risk’.

That way I’m not responsible for anything. What’s more, I’ve said so in writing.

I have to say though that we are in a good-weather-all-year area (South Florida) and have hosted hundreds of guests. I can count on the fingers of one hand the guests who have asked to use the barbecue grill. And I can only remember one guest who actually did so.

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Thanks, guys. The grill that we already have is charcoal, so I’m going to be going with a charcoal grill for at least a little while. I’m thinking of going with @CatskillsGrrl and provide charcoal for a weekend, but not for a week. Of course, I won’t find out how many weekenders we get versus week-long stays until we start renting.

Absolutely. It’s not only safer but more convenient. Turn it on, turn it off. Propane takes much less time to heat up.

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My charcoal is like my metro passes – the charcoal bin may be empty or full, and the metro cards may have a low balance or high, depending on previous guest use! There are stores nearby to easily purchase a bag of charcoal.

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If you think the grill is going to be a big draw for your guests, I think you have several options here:

  1. Provide a fixed amount of charcoal for each guest. I wouldn’t suggest buying a bag for each guest, rather I would use a bin instead, and make sure it’s full for each guest. That way, if a guest doesn’t use the whole bag, you don’t have to replace the whole bag, just refill part of the bin. Make sure you include the cost of doing this in your nightly rate. Let guests know where they can purchase more if needed.

  2. Add the cost of a bag of charcoal as an extra cost to your listing that guests can choose to pay for in advance with their reservation. The ones who want it will pay for it, you provide the convenience of making sure it’s there when they arrive.

  3. Give guests the option of bringing their own by letting the know about the grill before they arrive. You could also let them know the cost of a bag in the local store.

  4. Have some bags on hand that guests can buy directly from you for cash during their stay.

Regardless of what option you choose, I think it would also be a good idea to provide instructions for how to use a charcoal grill. I stayed in a hotel a few years ago that had a charcoal grill as one of its amenities, but the only person who actually knew how to use a charcoal grill was my sister’s father-in-law! He became very popular that evening giving lessons to other guests on how to light charcoal grills! There are certain areas where the vast majority of people use propane or wood, so charcoal might be unfamiliar!


Good ideas, all. I like the idea of a bin. And I really like the idea of writing out some simple instructions to make sure guests know how to operate the grill. Now if I can only specialize in those magical read-the-instructions type guests, I’ll be all set. :smile:

We just supply a smallish bag of charcoal and restock for the next guest when it’s about half-full. We find that those of our guests who like to barbecue (and actually it’s most of them as we have lovely mediterranean fish and shellfish here) are quite happy to buy their own if they run out. I do like the idea of a bin and might change to that’

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Although people can still be idiots with gas grills, as I can personally attest to. :tired_face::tired_face:

I would say three of every four guests I have make use of the grill. I sometimes think about removing it,but I know the guests enjoy it so much that I can’t bear to take it away.

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We have a gas grill and thankfully not one guest has ever used it. I guess we have a different kind of place. I don’t mention it in our listing either. I am afraid someone will do something stupid. They might forget to turn the gas off. Ours is hooked through the house to a 50 gallon tank so leaving the gas on lit or unlit would get expensive at the very least or could cause an explosion. Another thing that could happen is someone cooking too close to the house and damaging the side of it. Still worse would be grilling with cooking oil and starting an uncontrolled fire. I know. I’ve done it! :blush: It’s the same with our fire pit. We have one but no one uses it except me. I sleep better at night knowing that.


I am surprised that there are still people on this planet that do not know how to light a fire. :roll_eyes:
If instructions are needed, then it is better that they do not even touch that thing.

If you advertise the grill, I would provide some charcoal for at least 1 use. The rest they should provide themselves (point them to the nearest store or gass station)

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My neighborhood had two grill areas with the fixed-type charcoal grills described by @CatskillsGrrl.

I agree with @daniellealberta about the grill being an asset. I have some guests who are thrilled they can grill-out during their stay. I started off renting by providing a large bag of charcoal & some lighter fluid in the unit’s pantry. I’ve not purchased a bag since. So far guests have purchased new bags when they’ve finished the prior bag and left the partial bag when they check out.


Exactly my experience also. I provided a big bag of charcoal at my lakefront rental the first summer. A house rule was that prior to departure the grill must be cleaned and prepared for the next user.

When I checked the grill, it was caked with residue and the ashes had not been dumped in the bin. I stopped supplying charcoal. I figured, why spend the $8+ and still end up having to do the work.

One bad apple ruined it for all the others…and besides, everyone bought or brought their own charcoal and left or forgot the rest.

I agree. That is like a provision or supply. They need to just go buy it. It’s part of BBQing. Whereas a tank is attached to the thing and not,something guests should be expected to bring or buy. I find one tank of gas lasts months and months.


The black sheep here - I always supply charcoal and condiments, spices, salt, pepper, flour, surgar, and the like. We have a Webber grill for guests and since my husband doesn’tlike propane so the idea of a gas grill will not happen. Ok my thinking here is that I hate when I travel to have to buy all these items and then they get pitched out or left behind since I am not going to take them home - such waste. Anyway I think it is the cost of doing business and my guests are SO grateful - remember it is the LITTLE things that really make a difference.