How to Stock a 5-star Kitchen at Your Vacation Rental

If we were to write a list of reasons guests choose to stay at a vacation rental property instead of a hotel, access to a kitchen would be near the top. In fact, the top amenity is the kitchen for 64% of vacation rental guests when booking.


If you have a vacation rental, it’s important to provide guests with a stress free, almost-as-good-as-home space for preparing food. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars creating a professional grade kitchen, but forgetting something your guests see as a necessity? That may cause a lower review rating and hurt your bottom line. 


The challenge is finding the right combination of items that meet most of your guest’s expectations without breaking the bank. Having rented thousands of nights' worth of vacation rentals, here’s what kitchen items your guests expect. 

 Vacation Rental Coffee

The Ultimate List of Small Appliances


When I’m staying at a vacation rental with my family, I love waking up early and preparing a hotel-style buffet for everyone. It brings back memories of going to my grandparent’s cabin in Northern Michigan and waking up to bacon and eggs sizzling in a cast-iron pan and the smell of black coffee. For me, this is a highlight of my vacation. So even if you have a simple cabin in the woods, you can provide your guests with these great small appliances. 


Essential Items

  • Coffee maker (plus coffee filters and instructions)
  • Coffee grinder
  • Toaster
  • Microwave
  • Blender
  • Mixer


Extras that impress

  • Rice cooker
  • Slow cooker
  • Waffle iron
  • Electrical Hot-plate (if you have a small stove)



Tableware and flatware

Time and time again, we get asked, “what’s the best number of tableware for our vacation rental?” We recommend owners provide 1.5 times the number of glasses, bowls, and plates that accommodate your vacation home’s maximum capacity. If your rental property lists max occupancy at 4 people, provide 6 dinner sets. Why? Few people enjoy doing dishes. This is especially true when on vacation. So more tableware and flatware means more time relaxing and less time washing.



  • Spoons (1.5 of max occupancy)
  • Butter knives (1.5 of max occupancy)
  • Forks (1.5 of max occupancy)
  • Steak knives (1.5 of max occupancy)
  • Sharp knives for food prep (at least 3)


Cups & Glasses

  • Water glasses (1.5 of max occupancy)
  • Stemless or Plastic Wine glasses  (1.5 of max occupancy)
  • Coffee cups (1.5 of max occupancy)
  • Plastic cups - for young children


Plates, Bowls, Serving

  • Large plates (1.5 of max occupancy)
  • Small plates (1.5 of max occupancy)
  • Plastic plates - for young children
  • Bowls (1.5 of max occupancy)
  • Mixing bowls/salad bowls (at least 2)
  • Pitcher
  • Serving platters (at least 2)




Pro-tip: Vacation rental kitchen inventory

 Keep things simple, fun, bright colors might be your style, but they are just as likely to make someone else cringe. Choose neutral colors like white bowls, plates and mugs. Also, make sure that everything matches. Find suppliers that make a lot of the same items, and buy common, easy to replace items, so if something breaks you can replace one item instead of the entire set. 



Cookware and bakeware


As vacation rental hosts, it’s our job to provide stress free, memorable experiences for all of our guests. In the kitchen, this can mean providing the right kitchen tools for a wide variety of home cooks and different tastes. Of course, we have limited budgets and storage space to consider. The absolute essential for cooking eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and pancakes is the simple non-stick pan. But if you have room, there’s a host of other items that your guests may expect. 


Essential Pots & Pans

  • 1 1⁄2-quart covered saucepan
  • 3-quart covered saucepan
  • 8-quart covered stockpot
  • 4-quart covered sauté pan
  • 10-inch skillet
  • 8 1⁄2-inch skillet






Kitchen utensils and accessories


Ugh, you probably didn’t invest in a vacation rental to keep an inventory of kitchen items. Maybe you don’t even know the difference between a spatula and a pancake turner, but your guests might. Providing the best tools for cooking takes some knowledge of what’s necessary vs. what’s simply optional. 


We recommend buying sets to ensure that items are easily identifiable and made of the same material. Wooden items are kept together, and plastic items are organized together. That way it’s easy to reset the kitchen between guests. It also provides subtle clues for guests when they’re seeking items they need.  


5-Star Vacation Home kitchen must-haves:


  • Ladle
  • Slotted spoon
  • Cheese grater
  • Whisk
  • Kitchen shears
  • Cutting boards (2)
  • Knife sharpener
  • Spatula
  • Tongs
  • Mixing spoons 
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Oven mitts
  • Hot pads
  • Strainer
  • Can opener
  • Wine/bottle opener
  • Beer bottle opener
  • Pancake spatula
  • Potato masher
  • Potato peeler
  • Oven gloves
  • Baking dish
  • Roasting pan
  • Cookie sheets (2)
  • Pizza pan
  • Pizza cutter
  • Paper towel holder
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Ice Trays and Ice


Outdoor cooking and dining


Another summer favorite is the BBQ. While technically not the kitchen, it serves as an activity as much as a necessity. Even if you don’t have a BBQ area, the ability to relax outdoors with a cold drink and snacks is an exceptional experience for guests. Simple additions like plastic mugs, wines glasses, and cups can make outdoor eating safe and fun. 


  • Lighters
  • Citronella Candles or Mosquito Spray
  • Dishwasher-safe plastic plates
  • Dishwasher-safe plastic bowls
  • Dishwasher-safe plastic cutlery
  • Dishwasher-safe plastic cups


Extras that impress

  • BBQ (propane)
  • BBQ cleaning brush
  • BBQ utensils
  • 2 spare propane tanks for gas grills (required)
  • Firewood if fireplace or wood stove is present
  • Garden hose with nozzle - if outdoor water source is
  • available
  • Step ladder
  • Small Cooler






Kid-friendly items


Do you market your rental as family-friendly? If so, have unbreakable, child-friendly items on hand. Are most parents going to bring these items? Yes, likely. But if they forget, you will be their vacation hero. Even if they don’t, you will show a keen attention to detail. 


  • High chair
  • Sippy cups
  • Kid-friendly and dishwasher-safe plastic plates
  • Kid-friendly and dishwasher-safe plastic bowls
  • Kid-friendly and dishwasher-safe plastic cutlery
  • Kid-friendly and dishwasher-safe plastic cups


Starter spices, condiments and pantry supplies


One of the first things may guests do when they arrive at a vacation rental property is take inventory of the cabinets. One pet peeve is finding empty spaces that lack even the basics like salt, pepper, and cooking oil. Few guests want their first vacation activity to be shopping. 


  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Cooking oil 


Pro-tip Starter spices, condiments and pantry supplies

 Invest in a reusable, no spill oil bottle and make sure it's clean and filled after before your guests arrive. Add a matching vinegar dispenser for an upscale restaurant feel. Also, buy matching salt and pepper grinders and ensure they are clean and filled before each guest arrives.




Whether it’s leftover pizza, locally picked berries, or hotdogs for the next day's lunch, leftovers save time and money. Just remember to label them so that there are no mix-ups. 


  • Plastic or glass food containers
  • Plastic wrap
  • Sandwich bags
  • Aluminum foil


Cleaning and maintenance supplies


A well-stocked supply of cleaning products signals to your guests that you expect a clean house. Make sure that dangerous cleaning products are kept in child- and pet-safe areas, and when ever possible use child-safety locks to ensure that only adults have access to cleaning products. 


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