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Aug 3, 2012 12:30 PM

What do you want to find in a vacation rental kitchen?

Suppose you're planning to rent a house on Cape Cod for a week. What kitchen equipment do you want to find? What's really essential and what would be nice? What do you not want to encounter?

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  1. Oh boy, as frequent renter and an owner of a vacation home, I could rant for hours on this subject! For me, it is more about what should not be there.

    What do I not want to encounter?

    no-stick pans with the coating wearing off
    warped pans
    melted plastic spoons, spatulas
    plastic cups or other non-breakable drinking vessels. In my experiences, these are always way past the end of their useful lives and look gross.
    too much of anthing. I hate clutter. No one needs a flatware service for 35 jammed in the drawers.
    cast offs - If it looks like it came from grandma's kitchen, stolen from a college caf or carried home from a bar, it doesn't belong.
    promo coffee mugs - really?
    old, ripped, or crusty oven mits and hot pads - we recently rented a house. Someone had written a long note about how the oven mit had a hole by the thumb so be warned and stuck it inside the mit.

    I am sure I will think of more.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cleobeach

      a can opener, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, a strainer.
      and everything really, really super clean. ( #1 expectation)

      basic kitchen "stuff" is just fine
      and some salt (hate having to buy a box of salt) pepper gtinder too?
      an automatic shut-off kettle

      No mold, nothing slimy in the fridge. no bugs.

    2. I want to find:
      - decent knives
      - a pot large enough for pasta
      - couple saucepans
      - lg and small fry pan
      - strainer
      - plates, bowls, etc
      - large glasses
      - wine glasses an opener
      - spatula
      - wooden spoon
      - whisk
      - pitcher
      - salad bowl
      - baking sheet
      - big cutting board

      I think anything else, I could work around. Sine you said Cape Cod, I also want a lobster pot though :)

      12 Replies
      1. re: CanadaGirl

        I like your list. Also more than one clean kitchen towel and dish cloth. Other basic cleaning items like dish soap, paper towels, a scrub sponge. Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, ziploc bags so that i can store leftovers. One other thing I would add is a few basic seasonings and condiments. Salt, pepper, soy sauce, hot sauce, maybe some non-rancid cooking oil and non-crusty ketchup and mustard, so that I don't have to buy all those things just to use have a little bit to use.

        What i don't want: ants. Ancient, freezer burned ice cube trays. A half-drunk cup of coffee in the microwave (that was found in an otherwise clean and well-stocked rental I had last summer).

        1. re: cookie monster

          I would not want any open food left from previous tenants. You can gather stuff up like that for under $10 or bring a few little individual packages with you..

          1. re: wekick

            I rented out my Florida house for a few months when I was away. They had good taste - they swiped my unopened sesame oil, saffron, and fish sauce..!

            1. re: Veggo

              They took your saffron. That is not nice. :) I hope you didn't have expensive saffron there.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Is there cheap saffron? I have a large pantry and I'm still taking inventory - the pine nuts and macadamias are gone, also...!

                1. re: Veggo

                  Man, somehow they have mistaken and must thought that they can take everything from the house.

                  Some guy claimed he was able to get some cheap low quality saffron from Asian markets:


              2. re: Veggo

                The places we stay have owner's boxes/closets that are locked.

                1. re: wekick

                  On Kauai we stayed at a place where they didn't encourage messing up their pristine kitchen. All they had were two saucepans, a skilllet and BBQ-sized utensils. And finally, a Sub-zero for me for ten days -- alas, all we used it for was cream, poke and wine.

              3. re: wekick

                We rented in several places where the policy was leave no food behind or we would have been charged a disposal fee. One agent said to me they have to have a policy in place or the fridges are clogged with stuff after two of three tenants.

                1. re: wekick

                  I guess I distinguish between seasonings and condiments vs. actual food. I wouldn't want someone else's open box of cereal or jar of peanut butter either.

              4. re: CanadaGirl

                I agree with this list (with the addition of a good can opener), and cookie monster's suggestions too. None of it has to be fancy... stuff from Ikea or Target or even secondhand stuff that's in good shape would be fine. The last place I rented, every single frying pan was warped, made for an interesting breakfast making experience, and the saucepans didn't all have matching lids. Also there was tons of leftover food from previous tenants... I would advise against that. I know people leave it to be helpful so the next person can use it, but it took up a lot of space and I wasn't sure how old anything was.

                Also, a decent sized garbage can. This last place didn't have one at all in the kitchen, and a tiny one in the bathroom. I ended up just hanging a trash bag off of a kitchen drawer. Oh, and a paper towel holder.

                1. re: CanadaGirl

                  I totally agree with everything you've listed. A lobster pot is a must for a coastal rental in New England. It's important to have everything clean, relatively new, and in excellent condition, not just in the kitchen but throughout the rental property. When I rent a vacation home, and I do so on average once or twice a year, it's because I plan to do home cooking, and I don't want to have to resort to using dull, flimsy knives and warped cookware. I wouldn't use those things at home OR anywhere else.

                  I want a good supply of matching, unchipped dishes, glassware and stemware, and coffee mugs. Oh... there's GOT to be a good corkscrew, too.

                  One vacation rental we stayed in a few years ago near Acadia National Park not only had a lobster steaming pot, but a gas burner on the deck designed to hold the pot so we could steam our lobsters outdoors. We liked that arrangement so much we bought ourselves the same gas burner to use at home. That same rental also had an electric griddle -- so nice for making blueberry pancakes with fresh blueberries picked right outside the front door.

                2. At the very least, in my opinion, are: a pot, a pan, a spatula, a ladle/spoon, a kitchen knife and a cutting board.... a can opener, some flatware.

                  Obviously, it is better to have more, but the above are the minimal list.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I agree. I'd be perfectly happy with just the above. In fact, I WAS perfectly happy with just the above.

                    One year for my husband's birthday I treated him to a weekend at a waterfront place in Montauk, Long Island, NY. And it WAS waterfront. I could almost hit the surf with a rock from our balcony if I so desired. WONDERFUL place.

                    Anyway, the kitchen was stocked with a large pot, a saucepan, a skillet, dinnerware, & a few other minor implements. It enabled me to cook us up some lobster, fish & eggs (my specialty breakfast), & other seafood items when we weren't dining out.

                    Now this was back in the 1980's, so "foodies" wasn't even a word back then & expectations re: cooking weren't high at places like this. But still, even today I'm confident I'd be able to turn out decent meals with just those minor items.

                  2. I remember reading an article on this sometime ago (don't remember where). One item they mentioned I thought was good was to have at least one more place setting than the rental is listed to accommodate. The reasoning being. A Guest shouldn't have to make an emergency trip to the local store because they broke a plate or a glass.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mike0989

                      Agreed with Mike and with Chemical Kinetics.

                      Above ALL though, everything must be pristine. I tend to wash everything again before use - I know I am anal - but there have been a couple of rentals I have been to where the glassware has been soooooo sparkling and there has been not a bit of crud on the pans that I have declared it safe to use without rewashing.

                      These couple of places have been the two that I have recommended to friends without hesitation and places that we have also gone back to a number of times.

                      1. re: alisonk

                        you'd have had a blast at a place we rented years ago -- not only was filthy (dust bunnies and cobwebs that *weren't* in the photos) -- for which I *do* blame the owners --

                        but plates that had been put back into the cupboards with pools of jam on them (not just unwashed -- used and not even rinsed!) and the dishwasher that had been run with a entire chicken carcass on it -- the thing started to reek by our third day, so I pulled out the filter basket and found an entire chicken's worth of bones jammed in the filter.

                        I can't blame the owner for the last two -- while I could see looking in the cabinets to take inventory, who would actually look at all the plates thinking "but what if they put them away without washing them?" But the prior occupant was a pig.

                      2. re: mike0989

                        perhaps a well-stocked first aid kit as well...

                      3. Thank you all for your opinions. Please keep them coming.

                        I abandoned wood several years ago because it was invariably washed in the dishwasher at some point. Whose vacation is it, after all. However, there are reasonable substitutes and I try to provide them, and I will probably add some Victorinox knives next season.

                        I also have some basic cookbooks available.