SO here’s the thing. What do you make of an Airbnb rental that doesn’t come with a kettle? Now there is much to love about where we are living for a week, but the absent kettle confused us.
We looked everywhere, opened all the cupboards. Where do Australians hide their kettles? I rang the owner, who’d left the key under the front-door mat for us.
“The house is lovely,” I said. “But we can’t find the kettle.”
“We don’t have one,” our host replied. “You’ll find pans in that big drawer at the end of the kitchen. We boil water in those.”
We’d had a longish day in the vomit-yellow hire car and, being Brits, we fancied a cup of tea. Since Monday we have been making tea and coffee using a pan. This works fine but is still oddly unsettling, because how can you have a house without a kettle? A kitchen without a kettle is, well, like a vomit-yellow car without an engine. And say what you like about that car but it went fine, once I’d quarantined my left leg.
There is something so comforting about the boiling roll of a kettle. And it’s a lot less fiddly than tipping boiling water from a pan into a glass teapot. Yes, you read that right: a glass teapot. Anyway, I am drinking tea made that way as I type this.
After making tea without a kettle on arrival, I fancied a beer and got one from the fridge. Then I couldn’t find a bottle opener anywhere, and didn’t feel it would be reasonable to phone the owner. Later we went into a bottle shop – that’s what they call them over here – and asked if we could buy a bottle-opener. “Buy? I’ve got one you can have for free somewhere, mate.”
The bottle-opener was found and I promised to return to buy a bottle, and I’ve not done that yet. Incidentally, supermarkets here don’t sell alcohol, hence all those bottle shops.
There is one other negative about this lovely house in East Fremantle: it’s close to a busy highway, but the owner emailed a warning just after we booked. And it’s worth the noise because the house is great.
In the welcome pack, the owner calls it “a beautiful heritage home” and he’s not wrong. It’s a little like a Victorian terrace cottage that’s been tastefully modernised. You walk up the front steps to an old door that opens to reveal a long hallway. There is a bedroom at the front, another beyond that, then a sitting area that leads to a kitchen and dining spot, with a mini-study where I am writing this and drinking pan-boiled tea. Behind me there is a loo and shower, and outside the door there is a decking area, with washing machine and garden sink under cover. Beyond that lies a small walled garden.
All the floors in the house have been sanded and given a high-gloss varnish; and there are nice design touches everywhere, with small extensions expanding the space. Everything is arty and comfortable and there is even an old leather chair that swivels.
Although we’ve run our own mini-Airbnb business for a while now, this is only the second time we have used the online booking service. The other time was to rent a room in a large Victorian house in Bristol, where the wife was friendly enough but the husband looked permanently pained about having strangers in his house.
Airbnb has been good for us. Most of our guests leave happy, and we earn a little extra. But the headlines are often negative nowadays, with fears of people causing housing problems by cashing in on Airbnb. I’ve no idea where our owner lives when he’s not here; perhaps he has another house. But this one is homely and full of all his stuff and pictures, almost as if he’d just popped out, possibly to buy a kettle.