An Airbnb thank you ritual

The first few times I stayed at an Airbnb, I did what anyone with a Japanese mother would do — I arrived with a gift.

Thank you for letting me stay in your home. Dozo yoroshiku.

Little things, like a handkerchief or a mug cup with Mount Fuji printed on it. I would pack a few different gifts in my suitcase, and take out the most appropriate one after meeting my host and seeing how they decorated their living room. They would be a bit bewildered but quite pleased, and that in turn would please me, too.

I wasn’t sure how the ‘protocol’ should change with the introduction of a financial transaction but actually, it didn’t really matter — it was still someone’s home. Their castle.

I stopped after realizing that other people didn’t do it. It confused the hosts 😅 and also, there were more and more professional Airbnb flats with the same Ikea furniture and systems of assigned greeters and cleaners.

Nobody’s castle.


This year, we rented out rooms in our Paris apartment throughout the summer, and had the pleasure of hosting a dozen people or so.

Some of them left little notes underneath the key when they left.

One of them was a Russian grandmother traveling Europe with her grandson. They didn’t speak much English and weren’t seasoned travelers— she told me she was scared of flying — so it tickled me that they would stay in the apartment of strangers to see a bit of the world.

I’d said good-bye to them in person — she gave me a hug — so it was such a nice moment to return to my room and see this note on the table.

Thank you.

The next time I stay at an Airbnb, I think I’ll leave a note, too.